Resources for Child Care Givers
Provided by All Family Resources

Editors List Spanish books.
Site Index  
Practices Index  


Keeping the child care environment clean and orderly is very important for health, safety, and the emotional well-being of both children and providers. One of the most important steps in reducing the number of germs, and therefore the spread of disease, is the thorough cleaning of surfaces that could possibly pose a risk to children or staff. Surfaces considered most likely to be contaminated are those with which children are most likely to have close contact. These include toys that children put in their mouths, crib rails, food preparation areas, and surfaces likely to become very contaminated with germs, such as diaper-changing areas.

Routine cleaning with soap and water is the most useful method for removing germs from surfaces in the child care setting. Good mechanical cleaning (scrubbing with soap and water) physically reduces the numbers of germs from the surface, just as handwashing reduces the numbers of germs from the hands. Removing germs in the child care setting is especially important for soiled surfaces which cannot be treated with chemical disinfectants, such as some upholstery fabrics.

However, some items and surfaces should receive an additional step, disinfection, to kill germs after cleaning with soap and and rinsing with clear water. Items that can be washed in a dishwasher or hot cycle of a washing machine do not have to be disinfected because these machines use water that is hot enough for a long enough period of time to kill most germs. The disinfection process uses chemicals that are stronger than soap and water. Disinfection also usually requires soaking or drenching the item for several minutes to give the chemical time to kill the remaining germs. Commercial products that meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) standards for “hospital grade” germicides (solutions that kill germs) may be used for this purpose. One of the most commonly used chemicals for disinfection in child care settings is a homemade solution of household bleach and water. Bleach is cheap and easy to get. The solution of bleach and water is easy to mix, is nontoxic, is safe if handled properly, and kills most infectious agents. (Be aware that some infectious agents are not killed by bleach. For example, cryptosporidia is only killed by ammonia or hydrogen peroxide.)

Recipe for Bleach Disinfecting Solution
(For use in bathrooms, diapering areas, etc.)

1/4 cup bleach
1 gallon of cool water


1 tablespoon bleach
1 quart cool water

Add the household bleach (5.25%
sodium hypochlorite) to the water.

Recipe for Weaker
Bleach Disinfecting Solution
(For use on toys, eating utensils, etc.)

1 tablespoon bleach
1 gallon cool water

Add the bleach to the water.A solution of bleach and water loses its strength very quickly and easily. It is weakened by organic material, evaporation, heat, and sunlight. Therefore, bleach solution should be mixed fresh each day to make sure it is effective. Any leftover solution should be discarded at the end of the day. NEVER mix bleach with anything but fresh tap water! Other chemicals may react with bleach and create and release a toxic chlorine gas.

Keep the bleach solution you mix each day in a cool place out of direct sunlight and out of the reach of children. (Although a solution of bleach and water mixed as shown in the accompanying box should not be harmful if accidentally swallowed, you should keep all chemicals away from children.)

If you use a commercial (brand-name) disinfectant, read the label and always follow the manufacturer's instructions exactly.

Note: This information is not intended to take the place of your state's or locality's child care regulations and laws. In every case, the laws and regulations of the city, county, and state in which the child care facility is located must be carefully followed even if they differ from these recommendations.

All Family Resources
Children / Teens
Family Law
Aging / Seniors
Health / Fitness
Parents / Parenting
Money / Investing
En Espanol / In Spanish
Small Business
For the Spirit
Nutrition / Recipies

Copyright 1999 All Family Resources. All rights reserved.
Terms of use