Kids and germs: What you need to clean

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Children love discovering new things. It’s their awesome imaginations that has them building sandcastles, splashing in mud puddles and sharing an ice cream cone with the family dog. Unfortunately, all that discovery leads to one common thing: germs. Here are some household tips on where bacteria seem to lurk the most.

Bathroom

  1. Every month, give bath toys a spin in the dishwasher or sanitize with a bleach solution.
  2. Children love taking bubble baths, but the bathtub can be one of the dirtiest places in your bathroom. Scrub down your bathtub using a bathtub disinfectant at least once a week.
  3. Keep toothbrushes upright, and away from the sink, toilet and other toothbrushes.
  4. The faucet is probably the most touched area in the bathroom, and we touch it before we wash our hands. Clean it with disinfectant wipes daily.

Kitchen

  1. How often are you deep cleaning your sink with the same attention you do the toilet? Sanitize your sink every day to keep breeding bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella at bay.
  2. Change your kitchen towels out at least weekly to make sure that what you’re drying your dishes with didn’t just wipe a snotty nose, too.
  3. Especially with little ones who are crawling, the kitchen floor needs disinfecting. A hidden moldy strawberry can easily find its way from the floor into a toddler’s mouth, so daily sweeping is important. Once or twice a week, give it a good cleaning with disinfectant.
  4. Wipe down countertops before, during and after meal prep. Use disinfectant with paper towels instead of sponges or dishcloths, which are likely just spreading germs from one surface to another.

Bedroom

  1. Bedding should be washed in hot water and weekly—more often if there are accidents.
  2. Your little one’s favorite blanket or stuffed animal should be cleaned weekly as well. If they aren’t machine-washable, toss them in the dryer on the fluff cycle. This will minimize allergens.
  3. Most plastic toys can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Wipe down plastic books with disinfecting wipes.

Family room

  1. The TV remote gets a lot of use from every family member. Get in the habit of disinfecting the remote, and other items that get a lot of handling, a few times a week, including: computer keyboards and computer mouse, doorknobs, cabinet handles, light switches, phones and tablets.
  2. Always put a clean blanket down for your baby to lie on instead of right on the carpet. Consider wood floors or area rugs, which are much easier to keep clean. If that’s not an option, occasionally steam-cleaning high traffic areas is a good idea to get rid of germs the vacuum can’t suck up.
  3. Shoes track in who-knows-what. Especially when you have children, make your home a shoe-free zone, keeping shoes at the front entry way. Toddlers who are learning to walk should have inside shoes and outside shoes.

Lastly, germ exposure is inevitable, and you should find a balance that works for you between what can be avoided and what can’t. Keep in mind that we each have an immune system made to protect us. Our best defense to germs is easy: hand-washing. Since children are sponges for information, set a good example and wash your hands together—and often. Sing or hum the happy birthday song twice as a cue for how long a thorough hand-washing should last.


About The Mother Baby Centers of Allina Health and Children’s Minnesota
The Mother Baby Centers is a unique partnership that integrates Allina Health’s comprehensive maternal care and childbirth services with Children’s Minnesota fetal, neonatal and pediatric specialty care.