(Photo courtesy of @amberinteriors)
With COVID-19 and other viruses floating around, it's important to regularly clean and disinfect your home and pretty much everything in it--especially your children's belongings. But there is a right way and a wrong way to clean and sanitize your child's items. Firstly, it's important to recognize that cleaning and sanitizing are two separate things. Cleaning uses soap and water to physically remove germs from items, while sanitizing is an additional step to kill even more germs on already cleaned items. Sanitizing your child's toys and gear provides more protection against all infections. To properly get rid of and kill germs, you will need to do both cleaning and sanitizing.
(Photo courtesy of @thefariastribe)
Cleaning vs. Disinfecting
Cleaning toys and books first to remove dirt is essential to the disinfecting process. Start by using good old soap and water to get rid of dirt and grime, which can carry germs and viruses. If you can actually see dirt and grime on the surface, use the soap and water method first. The next step is to use a disinfectant to actually kill the germs. The most effective disinfecting formulas include diluted bleach and alcohol-based solutions that have a minimum of 70% alcohol. The CDC has compiled a comprehensive list of approved store-bought cleaning agents that kill the coronavirus and other viruses on surfaces.
How to Clean and Disinfect Your Child's Toys
Identify which toys are washable, avoiding stuffed and porous toys. First wipe down with a wet sponge and soap. Rinse until suds disappear. Mix about 1/2 cup of bleach with a gallon of water. Soak toys in the solution for five minutes. Rinse with warm water and let air dry.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Baby's Feeding Items
The CDC recommends the following for cleaning and sanitizing bottles:
If using a dishwasher:
- Take bottle apart. Separate all bottle parts (for example, bottles, nipples, caps, rings, valves).
- Rinse. Rinse bottle parts and any other feeding items by holding them under running water. The water can be warm or cold, whatever you prefer.
- Wash. Place bottle parts and other feeding items in the dishwasher. (Be sure to place small items into a closed-top basket or mesh laundry bag so they don’t end up in the dishwasher filter.) If possible, run the dishwasher using hot water and a heated drying cycle (or sanitizing setting); this can help kill more germs.
Remove from dishwasher. Wash your hands with soap and water before removing and storing cleaned items.
- If items are not completely dry, place them on a clean, unused dish towel or paper towel to air-dry thoroughly before storing in an area free of dust or dirt. Do not use a dish towel to rub or pat items dry because doing so may transfer germs to the items.
If washing bottle by hands:
- Wash hands well with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Take apart. Separate all bottle parts (for example, bottles, nipples, caps, rings, valves).
- Rinse. Rinse bottle parts and any other feeding items by holding them under running water. Do not set them in the sink. The water can be warm or cold, whatever you prefer.
- Place all items in a clean basin or container used only to clean infant feeding items. Do not wash directly in the sink because it may contain germs that could contaminate these items.
- Fill wash basin with hot water and add soap.
If you use a dishwasher with hot water and a heating drying cycle (or sanitizing setting) to clean infant feeding items, a separate sanitizing step is not necessary.
How to Sanitize Baby Feeding Items
The CDC recommends taking the following steps after cleaning for extra germ removal. Check with the item’s manufacturer on which method to use:
- Place disassembled feeding items into a pot and cover with water.
- Put the pot over heat and bring to a boil.
- Boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove items with clean tongs.
- Place disassembled items in microwave or plug-in steam system and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for sanitizing, cooling, and drying the items.
Bleach: (if you can’t boil, steam, or use a dishwasher)
- Prepare a bleach solution of 2 teaspoons of unscented bleach per gallon (16 cups) of water in a clean wash basin.
- Submerge all items completely, checking that the solution touches all parts and there are no air bubbles in the bottles.
- Squeeze solution through nipple holes.
- Soak items in solution for at least 2 minutes.
- Remove with clean hands or tongs. Do not rinse because germs could get back onto the sanitized items. Any remaining bleach will break down quickly as it dries and will not hurt your baby. This process is similar to what is done to sanitize dishes in restaurants.
After sanitizing, place items on a clean, unused dish towel or paper towel in an area protected from dirt and dust. Allow to air-dry thoroughly before storing. Do not use a dish towel to rub or pat items dry because doing so may transfer germs to the items
(Photo courtesy of @_thevintageblonde)
Cleaning a Pacifier
Doctors say you should clean anything that comes into contact with your baby's saliva or nasal secretions on the regular. This definitely includes your baby's pacifier. Wash with warm, soapy water a few times a day or every time it drops on the ground. You can also sterilize your baby's pacifiers in boiling water once a week.
How to Clean Your DockATot
We created our docks so that each piece is washable. Check out the label on the bottom of your dock cover for more detailed instructions.
Outer Cover: Machine wash in warm water inside a garment bag and hang to air dry (to help avoid color bleeding for covers with prints, be sure to immediately hang to dry after machine cycle is finished and ensure there are no folds or overlapping when drying). Do not tumble dry. Do not bleach. Do not dry clean.
Pad: Hand wash in cold water and lay flat to dry. Do not tumble dry. Do not iron. Do not bleach. Do not dry clean.
Inner Sleeve: Machine wash in cold water and hang to air dry. Do not tumble dry. Do not bleach. Do not dry clean.
We do not recommend using bleach on any part of your dock - stain remover is preferred.
Inner Tube: The tube rarely needs washing, shaking and ventilating are usually enough. If washing the tube, machine wash in cold water inside a garment bag and then tumble dry on low heat only. You can shake or fluff to redistribute the filling as necessary. If still damp, lay flat to dry. Do not iron. Do not bleach. Do not dry clean.
While you're home with your kids, try setting aside times for reading together. Reading out loud has many benefits, find out more.