Let’s begin by defining some cleaning terms:
- Cleaning – washing with mild detergent and water to remove visible dirt, soil, and debris from surfaces. You cannot effectively sanitize or disinfect unless dirt is removed. Scrub, wash, and rinse each surface before gonig further.
- Sanitizing – covering the cleaned area with a sanitizing solution such as sanitizer or bleach with EPA registration label and allowing it to naturally dry. Food contact services, dishes and toys that children put in their mouths must be sanitized once cleaned.
- Disinfecting – covering the cleaned area with a disinfecting solution such as bleach or ammonia. Allow the area to air dry or follow the manufacturer’s recommendation before wiping it off. Disinfect bathrooms, diapering areas and anywhere bodily fluids have touched.
The aim is to reduce as much as possible the viruses and bacteria to prevent illness from spreading.
Disinfecting And Sanitizing
Regarding large items, once you clean them of soil and dirt, disinfect with a spray bottle of disinfecting or sanitizing solution, wiping the liquid evenly across the surface and allowing it to naturally dry. Unless the manufacturer’s instructions on the disinfectant container say otherwise, do not wipe the area dry; disinfectant works best when allowed to sit without disturbance. By the time the liquid dries most bacteria and viruses are killed.
For dishes and plastic toys, sanitize the items in your dishwasher. A dishwasher can apply water at temperatures higher than your hands can stand as well as use the appropriate sanitizing solution as part of the cycle. Some dishwashers have a sanitize setting that cleans at higher temperatures.
Clothing and linens can be disinfected in the washing machine. Purchase items that can withstand hot water, disinfecting solutions, and repeated laundering without fading.
Areas to Clean
The easiest way to ensure thorough cleaning is to follow a schedule and clean areas in the same order every day. Any surface with visible soil, especially bodily fluids, should be cleaned and disinfected immediately.
Each day clean the entryways including the door handles, light switches, pens and pencils, cubbies, floors, walls, railings, phones, and keyboards.
The diaper changing area must be disinfected between each diaper change. The provider must also wash hands between each diaper change, even when using gloves. Gastrointestinal illnesses caused by rotavirus and norovirus are easily spread and can cause dangerous diarrhea resulting in dehydration.
Wipe play areashelves, play centers, and play surfaces. Some toys can also be wiped clean but smaller, durable toys can be washed in a dishwasher. Washable toys, linens, and bedding should be washing in the washing machine using chlorine or non-chlorinated bleach as appropriate.
In the bathroom, clean the sinks, toilets, floors, rugs, doorknobs, and light switch. Kitchen floors, faucet, refrigerator handles, stools, tables, counters, trash cans, chairs (including high chairs), and bibs must be cleaned.
Other areas that may need additional attention include doorknobs throughout the center, shared keyboards, drinking fountains, faucet handles, toilet levers, toys, and nap mats. Any surface liable to be touched by a child during the course of the day must be cleaned and disinfected or sanitized.
The NAEYC publishes a frequency table with recommendations for cleaning your facility.
Tips on Cleaning Your Daycare Center
- Immediately clean up any spills.
- Vacuum daily.
- Clean the bathroom before opening in the morning.
- Use a hands-free covered trash can in each room.
- Keep a container to place items that need to be washed such as toys that have been chewed, paint brushes and trays, and other frequently soiled items.
- If allowed by state regulations, some types of disinfecting wipes may make cleaning chores easier.
To find disinfecting wipes that meet state licensing requirements, check the label to ensure that Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli O157: H7, Salmonella enterica, Streptococcus pyogenes, Human Coronavirus, and Influenza virus are killed by the disinfectant in question.