Sharing may be caring, but when it comes to germs and children the phrase does not apply. Every surface they touch in every room of their schools, daycare centers and homes are constantly bombarded with germs and bacteria.
Where there are kids, there will be germs. It’s a lucid fact. Keeping any daycare clean and sanitized can seem like an unending task, but only because the definition of clean and how often high traffic/high touch areas need cleaning remains undefined.
Let’s go over some important cleaning tips for maintaining a healthy daycare center.
- Know the Difference Between Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting
Cleaning a daycare center properly means more than removing unsightly dirt, grime or other mess from surfaces. There are specific areas that need to be sanitized and disinfected after cleaning to ensure the spread of germs is kept in check. To do all three effectively, it’s important to understand the difference:
Cleaning is washing with a mild detergent and water to remove the visible dirt, soil and debris from a surface. Scrubbing, washing and rinsing are the three steps that must be repeated to clean a surface properly.
Sanitizing involves using a solution like bleach or other EPA approved sanitizer to cover a clean surface and allowing it to dry. All dishes, food contact surfaces and toys need to be sanitized after each cleaning.
Disinfecting involves coating a cleaned area with a disinfectant solution that eliminates different types of pathogens and can be used on different surfaces than sanitizer solution. Disinfected surfaces should be allowed to air dry. Target areas are diapering areas, bathrooms and any other location exposed to bodily fluids.
Always go in order: clean, sanitize and then disinfect. This three-pronged attack is the best way to combat the spread of germs and bacteria that cause illness.
- Clean, Disinfect and Sanitize on a Schedule
Every area of your daycare center needs to have a visible, printed cleaning schedule. Ask the parties responsible for cleaning sign off on log sheet every time they clean, disinfect and sanitize that area.
Not only does this provide accountability for everyone responsible for keeping things clean, but it also provides a record in the event that you need to conduct contact tracing for a virus-like COVID-19. Most important of all, scheduling helps you track your problem areas so you can ensure thorough and effective cleaning.
Logging immediately shows what areas have been regularly cleaned, sanitized and disinfected and which areas have not. Creating that cleaning schedule and sticking to it ensures no area is being neglected.
- Research Your Cleaners and Disinfectants Thoroughly
This tip is about the careful consideration of cleaning products more than it is a plug for “green cleaning” or a warning about mixing ammonia and bleach. Let’s start with the first rule of cleaning product research: read the label.
It is critical that you read the labels carefully on “hospital grade” germicides, as there are certain solutions that are dangerous to handle and have the potential to be toxic to children. Likewise, you should never use cleaning products in a daycare center labeled DANGER or CORROSIVE. This may seem like common sense, but few people are aware of the dangers presented by commercial and hospital-grade cleaning products compared to OTC cleaners.
Above all, before you use anything stronger than water and bleach, verify with a childcare nurse or a licensing agency that the cleaner in question is safe for use in a child-care setting. Finally, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use when using an EPA-approved industrial product to sanitize a surface. Failing to do so can result in serious injury or death.
- Focus on “Hotspots”
Obvious trouble spots like diapering stations and bathrooms will need the most attention, but it’s important not to overlook the lesser-known “hot spots” for spreading germs.
Clean, sanitize and disinfect entryways and door handles, light switches, pens, pencils, cubbies, floors, walls, railings, phones and keyboards daily. These areas tend to have the most foot traffic during the day, and most people touching them or coming into contact with them in some way.
Diaper changing stations must be disinfected between each diaper change, and the childcare provider must wash their hands each time even when wearing gloves. GI illnesses like rotavirus and norovirus spread rapidly and can cause both vomiting and diarrhea. It is critically important to keep these areas disinfected at all times.
Wiping play areas and surfaces should be next on your priority list. All toys should be regularly cleaned with disinfectant wipes, and more durable toys can often be cleaned in a dishwasher. Bedding and any other linens used in the play area should likewise be washed in a washing machine with non-chlorinated bleach.
Finally, bathrooms, kitchens, drinking fountains and any eating surfaces need daily cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting as well. Focus on refrigerator handles, stools, chairs, tables, trash cans, bibs, etc. Giving special attention to these hot spots each day will greatly improve the level of sanitation while preventing the spread of infection, too.
- Keep Supplies on Hand At All Times
Monitor your inventory levels for your most used cleaning supplies on a daily basis. Running out of paper towels, disinfectant wipes, sanitizer and other critically necessary materials makes it difficult to maintain your cleaning schedule, and without that schedule you are almost guaranteed to see a rise in illness soon after.
- Know the Daily Best Practices of Daycare Center Cleaning
Here are a few daily best practices to help you keep your daycare clean, sanitized and disinfected:
- Immediately clean and remove any spills
- Vacuum carpeting daily
- Clean bathrooms before the start of the day each morning
- Install handle free covered trash cans in every room
- Place any items that need washing (chewed toys, paint brushes, trays, items that get dirty frequently, etc.) in a separate container that can be kept covered and removed from the room.
- Depending on the local or state regulations, use disinfectant wipes wherever possible to allow for faster and more frequent cleaning
Is keeping your daycare center clean, sanitized and disinfected starting to feel overwhelming? Contact the experts at allied Facility Care. We have the knowledge, experience and training to keep your daycare facility safe and healthy for all your kids. Call today for more details.
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