Cleaning and disinfecting are very important in our homes and just as important in our daycares. Children are prone to touching their faces and putting objects into their mouths. This can be very dangerous, especially with the governments loosening restrictions on COVID-19 and the subsequent increased interpersonal contact. With that in mind, as someone with children entrusted to them, you need to take extra precautions to keep them and yourself safe.
Sanitizing toys and equipment is a crucial part in keeping your daycare clean and allowing parents to feel safe with their kids in your care. Below I’ve compiled some tips and methods on how to clean and disinfect different types of materials so that everyone in your daycare or home can stay safe and healthy.
Cleaning vs. Disinfecting
First, we should go over the difference between cleaning and disinfecting and how you should do both. Cleaning removes dirt, germs, and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs; it only removes them from the surfaces which lowers their numbers resulting in a lower chance of spreading. Disinfecting, however, uses chemicals to kill germs on the surface but does not remove dirt or clean the surface. It is recommended to clean with soap and water, then disinfect with the appropriate chemicals to lower the risk of transmission and spread as much as possible.
What to use
Now that we know the difference, what should we use? For cleaning, using the appropriate soap and water is good enough. For example, using dish soap for dishes, or just hand soap for hands. For disinfecting, it is important to use safe and effective chemicals for cleaning. When you are cleaning the toys and equipment, we would not want the chemicals to not be child safe or put the child’s health in danger in any way. In another one of our blog posts, “5 Child Safe Cleaners You Should Be Using & 3 That You Should Never Use”, we lay out some of the cleaners that are safe and that are not.
For different types of surfaces, it is recommended to use the corresponding supplies. Below are some of the common surface types and how they should be sanitized.
For hard (nonporous) surfaces: They should be cleaned if dirty, with appropriate soap and water, then most disinfectants should be ok, but check label on the disinfectant to make sure.
For soft (porous) surfaces: They should be cleaned with appropriate cleaners if there is visible contamination, then launder items as appropriate. Use the warmest water that is still safe for the items and dry completely
For Electronics: Follow manufacturer’s instructions, or if there is no manufacturer’s guidance, then alcohol-based wipes or sprays should be good (70% alcohol or more). Dry the surfaces thoroughly and avoid pooling liquids. With electronic screens that are not glass, (i.e. many computer screens, TVs, and monitors) it is recommended to use an isopropyl alcohol solution diluted in water and a soft towel.
For Clothes: Wear gloves if handling dirty clothes from someone who is sick. Do not shake dirty laundry. Laundering items should be good enough to disinfect them. Also make sure the clothes hampers are also disinfected.
For Packages: It is recommended to disinfect your packages lightly. They have a relatively low risk of transmitting the virus, but a risk is a risk. Coronavirus can live on cardboard for around 24 hours. Disinfecting with a disinfecting wipe would be a good idea.
As many businesses are opening back up, it is important to keep yours clean and safe. Knowing the appropriate way to sanitize your daycare is key to keeping yourself and the kids safe and the parents feeling calm.