Cleaning and Disinfecting

Effective and efficient cleaning and disinfecting all areas in a child care setting are necessary to maintain a clean and healthy environment. To be effective and efficient, the correct cleaners and disinfectants should be available and a cleaning schedule should be created that outlines who, what, where, when and how.


The physical removal of foreign material e.g., dust, soil, food, dirt. Cleaning removes the foreign material with water, detergent and mechanical action (scrubbing). Cleaning is an important part of the sanitation process because disinfecting is ineffective in the presence of soil or foreign materials.

Cleaning basics

  • Clean from least to most contaminated areas to prevent cross contamination, e.g., bathroom sink before toilet.
  • Clean from top to bottom.
  • Remove loose dirt and debris before cleaning.
  • Change cleaning cloths and mop heads frequently.
  • Change cleaning solutions frequently.
  • Avoid situations that allow microorganisms to multiply, i.e., store mops and buckets dry.
  • Warmer water makes solutions more effective.
  • Any detergent is adequate to clean. It does not have to be an antimicrobial product.
Download the Mixing of chlorine bleach solutions reference sheet
Download a disinfection chart

Disinfecting basics

  • All chemicals must be stored and labeled properly.
  • Staff must be aware of safety precautions.
  • Train staff to dilute solutions properly (use test kits).
  • Wash and rinse containers prior to refilling.
  • Do not top or refill containers or disinfectants.
  • Mix up new solutions daily to maintain effectiveness.
  • Remember: to be effective disinfectants must remain in contact with a surface for a period of time. Always follow manufacturer’s directions for contact time.


When choosing a disinfectant, check the product labeling.
  • The product must have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). This indicates the product has been tested and is safe for its intended use.
  • The product must have instructions on use, dilution, length of disinfection time, storage and disposal.
  • The product must also include appropriate precautionary symbols and statements as well as first aid instruction.
  • Choose the disinfectant by looking at the spectrum of antimicrobial activity, availability, cost and ease of use.
  • Always follow the product instructions to ensure the product works as it’s intended to and to ensure worker safety.

 Download a Guide to cleaning children's toys handout

 For information on proper dishwashing techniques, download resource for three-sink dishwashing.