7 Disgusting Facts About Ball Pits That Will Ruin Your Childhood

One would assume a ball pit provides a safe, enclosed space for kids to jump around and have a blast throwing, crawling, and burning all their energy in a sea full of balls. The reality, however, is that there are more germs in ball pits than there are on a toilet seat. While there are more dangerous ways for kids to have fun, ball pits are filthy health hazards that should come with a serious health warning attached. 

When it comes to gross ball pits, location is everything. With ball pits set up at home or those newly fashionable adult ball pits, it is much easier to keep things sanitary. Fast food chains and places where kid birthday parties take place, like Chuck E. Cheese, are a completely different story, however. In public ball pits, you can expect that your kids will encounter everything from squashed cheeseburgers to used condoms in the ball pit.

If you ever had questions about what lurks at the bottom of a ball pit, then get ready to dive in to these disgusting facts about kids ball pits. Once you learn about why ball pits are gross, you may just find yourself building one in your own backyard. 

Photo: papillondream / Shutterstock.com

  • Ball Pits Are Dirtier Than a Toilet Seat

    It may not come as a surprise that ball pits are a bacteria haven. The sheer number of kids jumping into the play place would suggest this to be the case. Just how much is found in ball pits, however, might come as a shock.

    Dr. Erin Carr-Jordan, a professor at Arizona State, took her tools to a local McDonald's Play Place ball pit and found the following: "We found stuff that causes meningitis, food-borne illness, skin, hair, eye infections. . . fecal contamination, coliforms, quite a few things that can make children ill, and several of which are multi-drug resistant and potentially fatal."

    Luckily Carr-Jordan will not have to face these illnesses anytime soon, as she was swiftly banned from local area McDonald's locations after her findings were made public.

  • There Could Be Anything in the Pit

    There are plenty of stories of bizarre and potentially hazardous items that were found by unsuspecting kids. These range from the obvious, such as stray Hot Wheels toy and a wad of gum, to the interesting like watches and even video games. Unfortunately, not every buried treasure is as appealing. Imagine your child coming out of the ball pit with a Band-Aid on his arm - when he wasn't wearing one when we he went inside. Employees have found plenty of bloody bandages, along with the odd used condom or two, in public ball pits.

    One particularly extreme tale tells of a six-year old kid finding a pair of rusty scissors at the bottom of a McDonald's ball pit. The fast food giant then proceeded to buy the kid off with a free ice cream, because a 99 cent cone beats a multi-million dollar lawsuit any day of the week.

  • Teens Might Have Had Sex in the Pit

    Oh, teenagers. Lust-filled, angst-ridden, and apparently keen to get it on whenever and wherever the mood strikes. One McDonald's employee (swiftly followed by a troubling amount of others) recounts catching two love-struck teens doing it in the Play Place ball pit.

    This is probably the most beautiful half a minute that McDonald's has ever seen.

  • They Might Bump Into a Homeless Person

    There are a surprising amount of stories out there about homeless people using the Play Place as a crash pad. Employees and the general public alike have happened upon people sleeping in and around the ball pits at McDonald's and Burger King.

    Not something you really want to worry about when you let your kids loose in what's supposed to be a safe environment.

  • Ball Pits Are Full of Food

    Ball pits are gross enough as it is. They only get grosser when you realize how often kids take their food into the play areas with them. Obviously, this is a situation that becomes more prevalent at fast food chains like McDonald's and Burger King. At these joints, the bottom of the pit is covered with stale Chicken McNuggets and half eaten cheeseburgers.

    Be sure to check your kid's feet for pickles next time they are playing in the ball pit.

  • Children's Accidents Can Go Unreported

    When you combine kids jumping around and playing with eating junk food, there are inevitably going to be accidents. The problem here comes when the parent is either too embarrassed to report what happened or just doesn't care in their haste to leave. In those situations, vomit, burst diapers, and who knows what other bodily fluids are infecting the ball pit your kids are playing in.

    Also beware of the smell of strawberries. This Chuck E. Cheese employee speaks of how he was taught to cover the smell of vomit with cotton candy crystals.