When it comes to the battle against bacteria and viruses, you need a combination of the right tools and know-how to win the war. Follow these tips to disinfect safely when doing the dirty work of cleaning your home and your kids’ toys for increased peace of mind during uncertain times — and always.
1. Start with Personal Hygiene
The first step in keeping a healthier home revolves around its inhabitants. No matter how many times you mop your floors, for example, your family still tracks dirt and grime in on their shoes. As much as 90% of the nastiness on the soles gets transferred to your floors, and if you have a crawling baby, they’re coming hand-to-mouth with E. coli and heaven knows what else. Have your family drop their footwear at the door.
While you are probably tired of hearing this advice — and may have the cracked palms to show it — handwashing is critical to hygiene. Always wash your hands before you prepare any food or sit down to eat. It’s a wise idea these days to do so after coming in anytime you go outdoors, even briefly. Sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice through in your head to make sure you lather up thoroughly enough.
2. Choose the Correct Cleaning Supplies
You may have a lot of concerns about toxic chemicals as a conscientious parent. However, if you have gotten into the habit of using distilled white vinegar as a natural cleaning agent, reconsider that, at least for now. While the substance does kill some germs, it is ineffective against COVID-19 and many other viruses that can cause illness.
Instead, opt for cleaners that make the EPA’s list of acceptable agents against the coronavirus. You may have many in your cabinets already. For example, bleach will kill most germs, and you can use a diluted solution of it to clean hard plastic toys that won’t fade. Many popular brand-name cleaning wipes will also do a thorough job of removing bacteria and viruses.
3. Select the Right Methods
Stuffed animals can harbor a ton of germs, but you don’t want to risk Avery the Lamb losing all his wool in the washing machine. If your child’s favorite plaything is machine-washable, follow the cleaning instructions on the item using the warmest appropriate water temperature. If possible, place the item in a breathable mesh bag to protect parts like button eyes. Be sure to thoroughly dry all fabric items.
Many cleanup jobs require a two-step process to be effective. For example, if you recently mixed up a giant pot of pasta sauce, you could have splatters all over your stove and counters. Use a washable rag the first time around to remove the grime and gunk. Then, go back over the surfaces with a disinfectant wipe or a paper towel and a surface-safe solution. This method helps you preserve your sanitizing resources and the planet, too.
4. Enlist the Aid of Your Appliances
Did you know that you most likely have a sterilizing machine sitting right on your countertop? You can use your microwave to disinfect sponges and scrub pads. You can even clean your dog’s favorite rope toy using this method — as long as it doesn’t contain any metal or plastic parts that could spark a fire.
Another tool at your disposal is your dishwasher. Many hard plastic toys like teething rings are dishwasher-safe. Once you confirm that the item you wish to sterilize won’t damage the appliance — or melt — all you need to do is hit the button to start the cycle. It’s generally best to use the top rack for washing toys so that they don’t get lodged against the heating coils.
5. Disinfect Frequently Touched Surfaces Often
Finally, some surfaces in your home see more use than others. For example, electronics with and without touchscreens always have fingertips across their surfaces. Determine whether the device has a coating that requires a specialized cleanser. Otherwise, a solution of isopropyl alcohol and water will do the trick for disinfecting.
Other surfaces that get touched frequently are light switches, doorknobs and toilet handles. Go through your home once a day and either wipe or spray them with disinfectant. It only takes a few minutes, which is far superior to spending weeks feeling under the weather.
Keep Your Home and Kids’ Toys Clean and Disinfected
You always want to keep your family safe and healthy, but during a pandemic, proper hygiene becomes even more critical. Keep your kids’ toys and your entire home cleaner by following a few simple tips.