Proper Cleaning in Childcare Facilities

05 April 2021

Properly cleaning and disinfecting childcare facilities is, without putting too fine a point on it, one of the most challenging tasks in the janitorial world. For example, children are inherently curious and learn about the world by interacting with it—they try to touch (and yes, sometimes taste) almost everything they see. Consequently, nearly every surface and thing within their reach becomes a high touchpoint (HTP), especially in environments that cater to toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary-aged children. Childcare facilities also typically pull double duty as food preparation and/or service areas, adding a whole other set of sanitary concerns and cleaning procedures to the mix. Oh, and don’t forget that children pick up all sorts of minor bumps and scrapes when they play; childcare regularly involves light first aid, and that demands a certain level of cleanliness.

The point is that cleaning and disinfecting in childcare facilities isn’t really one job, it’s two or three. The care providers and other employees in these environments will, out of necessity, usually take on some of the more routine cleaning duties themselves. But they depend on professionals to handle deep cleaning and disinfecting once they’ve closed for the day. Understanding how the division of labor should work is important for folks on both sides.

What Should Staff Clean?

Care providers and other employees should clean everyday messes and spills, as well as wipe down HTPs, changing surfaces, and food prep/service surfaces (counters, tables, etc.). HTPs should be cleaned as frequently as possible while changing stations and food service areas should be cleaned after use. Staff should also wash their hands frequently and encourage children to do the same. These simple measures are enough to mitigate the spread of germs and other environmental contaminants through the course of a typical day.

What’s Best Left to Professionals?

The short answer to that question is, “Everything else.” After the close of business, professional cleaners should thoroughly clean and then disinfect floors, HTPs, kitchen/food prep areas, restrooms, changing tables, and any other surfaces that may be harboring bodily fluids or environmental contaminates. Disinfecting products should be used precisely according to the accompanying directions; there are several varieties of common disinfecting/sanitizing products and they don’t all work the same way.

Most need to be left to stand for some amount of time after application—generally between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on the specific disinfecting agent(s) used in the product. Some must be left to dry completely, while others can be wiped away after they’ve had sufficient contact time on surfaces. Professionals cleaning in childcare facilities should also have at least one food grade/food safe sanitizing and disinfecting product on hand to take care of kitchen areas and, if the children in question are young enough, toys.

Cleaners working in childcare facilities should also be prepared to deal with bodily fluids more regularly than they might in other environments. Disposable gloves, masks, and any other relevant personal protective equipment (PPE) should be donned before contact is made with these kinds of contaminants. Remove as much fluid as possible with an appropriate absorbing agent (paper towels should be a last-ditch option unless the total liquid volume is only a few milliliters), preferably one that can be swept up with a broom and dustpan specifically designated for hazardous spills. Once the primary contaminates have been captured and disposed of, the soiled area should be cleaned thoroughly with hot water and an appropriate detergent—typically one that includes a degreasing agent. As with the broom and dustpan, any mops and/or cloths used to clean these areas should be reserved exclusively for hazardous/bodily waste. After a thorough cleaning, the area must be disinfected appropriately.

Whether you’re a care provider working in a hectic facility or a professional cleaner responsible for the health of the staff and employees, ABC Paper & Chemical Company is here to support you. We carry a broad selection of cleaning and disinfecting products and equipment, and our friendly, knowledgeable staff can help you pick the best tools for your job.