Sanitizing Tips for Your Home and Baby Supplies

Reviewed by James Brann, MD
Every time you turn on the news, it seems like there is another “outbreak” of some type of major illness. Pandemonium ensues. And even if you are not one of those “worry freaks” who cares to obsess over many of the serious viruses that are going around, it is always good to take precautionary measures to keep your family and your baby well.
Sanitizing your home is where it starts. Kids and babies are always putting things in their mouths, and it can be difficult to keep up with all of the cleaning you have to do. However, germs can be found anywhere, even in the least likely of places. They can be lurking on everything on your home, and even on you and your clothes!

Experts recommend washing or scrubbing with lukewarm water for general cleaning of toys and countertops, etc. rather than using harsh chemicals. You don’t really need to use anti-bacterial or special soap. Common household dish soap does the trick perfectly well.
Sanitizing, however, requires an extra level of effort. In most cases, sanitizing will kill the majority of “dangerous” germs, but remember to clean the surface before sanitizing. Bacteria and germs are good at finding hiding places. If you want to use an effective, safe sanitizer, it can be done simply by making your own solution. Homemade sanitizer ensures that your products will be the most germ-free, since it will be freshly made and you have control over what goes into your sanitizing solution.
Here is a simple sanitizing solution “recipe”:

  • 1 tbsp. bleach
  • 1 qt. water
  • Or, if you need more you can use ¼ cup of bleach to every 1 gallon of water.


Once you mix the bleach and water, this will be considered safe and non-toxic for cleaning your baby’s toys, furniture, etc. but be mindful of the bleach on some surfaces, such as wood. It can stain your wood. Use this sanitizing solution on all of your baby’s equipment, such as the bouncer, walker, swing, etc. and toys. It evaporates easily within a few minutes, so even if your baby plays with it an hour or two after you have cleaned it, the baby cannot be harmed.
Some smaller toys can also be washed in the dishwasher, as long as they do not have batteries. Or, some parents throw all of the toys in the bathtub and soak them in a lukewarm mixture of soap and water. Make sure to scrub the dirt, grease or film and residue. If you want to take extra precaution, you can apply the sanitizer solution after you have washed them. Then, stick the toys in a dish rack or in a high place until they have air-dried.

If the toys have batteries, you will have to wipe them down manually by hand and then apply the sanitizing solution. Make sure they have fully dried before the child plays with them.

Soft toys can be put in the laundry, including all of the stuffed animals. If the item has fragile pieces, such as eyes or sparkles or ribbons and other pieces that come off easily, you may wash them by hand in the kitchen sink and then let them air dry instead.

How often should toys and baby equipment be sanitized?

Some parents are obsessive about washing their children’s toys, bags, equipment and baby furniture every other day or once a week, but you do not have to drive yourself crazy and go to this extreme. In general, it depends on how often your baby plays with these things. It is always good to wash them after your baby has been sick, even with a small cold. Or if another child plays with them, you may also think it is best to do.

As a rule of thumb, you can just wash them when you notice they need it. If a stuffed animal or blanket seems soiled or if the baby has been sucking on it, then go ahead and wash it. If it has been sitting on a shelf for a month, then it might be just fine. Certain pieces of baby equipment – such as the highchair – should endure frequent cleaning and sanitizing. Playpens and swings, etc. that may get used more should definitely be managed.

It may seem like common sense, but you should try to keep your home free from dust as much as possible. Although many moms don’t find a lot of time for dusting, it should be done at least every couple of weeks to prevent your baby from getting allergens and respiratory issues. Wash bedding at least once a week and try to keep the inside of your car cleaned at least once every week or two, as well. Remember that cleaning and sanitizing does help to prevent those nasty germs from attacking your child, as well as the rest of your family.

 

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