Daycare Cleaning: Keeping Children Safe and Healthy

Daycare Cleaning: Keeping Children Safe and Healthy

Discover how specialized cleaning protocols are not just a recommendation but a necessity for keeping children safe and healthy in daycare settings.

Daycare Cleaning: Keeping Children Safe and Healthy

The Importance of Cleanliness in Daycare Settings

In the context of child care, cleanliness transcends routine housekeeping—it becomes a pillar of well-being and safety.

A clean daycare facility is not merely an aesthetic or olfactory choice; it's necessary to prevent the spread of diseases and infections among children with developing immune systems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a hygienic environment can substantially reduce illnesses and improve child health.[1]


Unique Challenges and Responsibilities

Cleaning a daycare facility is different from sanitizing other spaces.

With young children involved, daycare providers face unique challenges, such as handling bio-hazards like diaper changes, cleaning up after messy meals and snacks, and sanitizing toys that constantly go into kids' mouths.

Additionally, daycare centers often experience high traffic volumes with children crawling, playing, and frequently touching surfaces.

All of these factors significantly escalate the risk of germ transmission.[2]


Why Special Cleaning Requirements are Necessary for Daycare Facilities

Children's Vulnerability to Illnesses

Children, especially those under 5, are more susceptible to illnesses than adults for various reasons.

One of the primary factors is their underdeveloped immune systems, which are not yet fully equipped to fend off bacteria and viruses.[3]

Furthermore, children's behavioral patterns contribute to this susceptibility.

Frequent hand-to-mouth actions, close interactions with other children, and a general lack of awareness about hygiene increase the odds of contracting and spreading illnesses.[4]


High Traffic and Its Impact on Hygiene

Daycare centers are bustling hubs of activity.

The high-traffic nature of these facilities—filled with children, staff, and parents—creates an environment conducive to the quick spread of germs.

The opportunities for cross-contamination are abundant, from shared toys and eating utensils to common play areas and restroom facilities.

Regular cleaning routines suitable for less busy environments will not suffice; specialized cleaning protocols are necessary to counter the heightened risk of illness spread in daycare settings.[5]


CDC Guidelines and Their Importance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides comprehensive guidelines for childcare settings.

These guidelines emphasize the importance of using appropriate disinfectants on surfaces and objects children frequently touch.

They also recommend a more frequent cleaning schedule than other facilities to help mitigate the spread of pathogens.

Following these guidelines isn't just a recommendation—it's crucial for maintaining a healthful environment for the most vulnerable among us.[6]


Regulations and Guidelines for Daycare Cleaning

Navigating the regulatory landscape for daycare cleaning can be complex, given that guidelines can vary from federal to state levels and even among industry standards.

Understanding these diverse rules is crucial for maintaining a safe and healthy environment in childcare facilities.


Federal Guidelines for Child Care Settings

At the federal level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers extensive guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing in childcare settings.

Their recommendations range from the types of cleaning agents to the frequency and cleaning methods for various surfaces and objects.


California State Guidelines

These rules cover the types of acceptable cleaning agents and provide explicit directives on cleaning schedules, staff training, and documentation required for cleaning tasks.

Failure to comply with these guidelines can result in penalties, including revoking the facility's license.


Industry Standards: ISSA Guidelines

The International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) has set industry standards for daycare cleaning.

These standards offer a comprehensive framework that details best practices for cleaning childcare facilities, including protocols for high-touch areas, recommendations for cleaning tools, and criteria for measuring cleanliness.

The ISSA standards are often considered a benchmark for quality and effectiveness in the cleaning industry.

Adherence to these diverse guidelines is not just about compliance; it's about fulfilling a moral obligation to provide children with a safe and healthy environment.

By aligning daycare cleaning practices with federal, state, and industry guidelines, facilities can ensure they meet the highest cleanliness and safety standards.


Types of Cleaning Agents Suitable for Daycare

Non-Toxic and Child-Safe Cleaning Agents

When it comes to daycare cleaning, the choice of cleaning agents is a topic of paramount importance.

Given the sensitivities of children's developing systems, opting for non-toxic and child-safe cleaning agents is not just a recommendation but a necessity.

These cleaners typically contain natural ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, or plant-based compounds, and they lack harsh chemicals that can cause skin irritations, respiratory issues, or other health-related concerns.[7]


The Trade-Off: Efficacy Vs. Safety

While the appeal of non-toxic cleaners is evident, daycare providers must grapple with the efficacy-safety trade-off.

Some natural cleaners may not be as effective at killing a broad spectrum of germs and pathogens as their chemical-laden counterparts.

This limitation could compromise the health and safety of the children in care.

Hence, daycare providers must strike a delicate balance between choosing cleaning agents that are effective in eliminating pathogens and safe for children.[8]


EPA-Approved Cleaners: The Best of Both Worlds

To navigate the challenge of efficacy versus safety, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a list of disinfectants proven effective against SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens while meeting safety criteria for use in childcare settings.

The EPA's List N offers a selection of cleaners that have undergone rigorous testing to ensure both their disinfecting abilities and their safety for use in environments with children.[9]

These cleaners are a reliable choice for daycare facilities aiming to adhere to the highest cleanliness and safety standards.


High-Touch Surfaces: Special Attention Needed

What Are High-Touch Surfaces?

High-touch surfaces are areas or objects within the daycare facility frequently touched by multiple individuals throughout the day.

Examples include doorknobs, light switches, faucets, tables, chairs, and toys.

These surfaces serve as hotspots for transferring microbes, making them critical points for intervention in cleaning and sanitization efforts.[10]


Frequency of Cleaning

Given the high risk of contamination, the frequency with which these surfaces should be cleaned is much greater than in less-touched areas.

The CDC recommends that high-touch surfaces in daycare settings be cleaned and disinfected at least once daily.

However, given the constant activity and the vulnerabilities of a child-centric environment, many experts advocate for multiple cleanings throughout the day, especially during flu season or a pandemic.


Cleaning Techniques for High-Touch Areas

The following cleaning techniques are commonly recommended for high-touch areas:

  • Pre-cleaning: Remove visible dirt and debris from the surface using soap and water.
  • Disinfection: Apply an EPA-approved disinfectant. Ensure that the surface remains wet for the time specified by the manufacturer to guarantee the elimination of pathogens.
  • Rinsing: For surfaces like eating utensils or toys that might go into children's mouths, it's essential to rinse them with water after disinfection.
  • Drying: Allow the surface to air-dry or use a clean towel to remove moisture, as moisture can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Protective Gear: Always use gloves and, if necessary, other protective gear when cleaning and disinfecting, especially when dealing with biohazards.


Best Practices: The Cleaning Schedule

The Concept of a Cleaning Schedule

A well-organized cleaning schedule is the backbone of any effective daycare cleaning strategy.

It helps ensure no area is overlooked and that cleaning tasks are performed consistently and effectively.

The schedule is typically broken down into daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, each targeting different areas and types of cleaning to provide a comprehensive approach to maintaining hygiene and safety.


Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Cleaning Tasks

  • Daily Tasks: Include cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, sweeping and mopping floors, and sanitizing eating and diaper-changing areas. Trash should be emptied, and toys should be cleaned at the end of the day.
  • Weekly Tasks: This involves more in-depth cleaning, like washing soft furnishings, cleaning windows, and disinfecting less frequently touched items like shelves, cupboards, and storage bins.
  • Monthly Tasks: These are the deep-cleaning activities, such as sanitizing outdoor play equipment, deep-cleaning carpets, and conducting an inventory check on cleaning supplies.


Importance of Documenting the Cleaning Process

Documentation of cleaning activities is a critical aspect that should be addressed.

Detailed records help ensure accountability and serve as a valuable tool for periodic reviews and audits.

The "Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards" guide emphasizes that documentation assists in establishing a baseline of cleanliness, enables adjustments to cleaning protocols when necessary, and serves as evidence of compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.[11]


Technological Aids for Effective Cleaning

Introduction to Technological Innovations

With technological advancements, daycare facilities have more options to enhance their cleaning and sanitization efforts.

Technological aids like UV sanitizers and air purifiers are becoming increasingly popular for effectively eliminating pathogens and improving air quality.


UV Sanitizers: Efficacy and Cost-Effectiveness

Ultraviolet (UV) sanitizers kill a broad spectrum of microorganisms by disrupting their DNA or RNA.

They can be especially useful for disinfecting objects and surfaces that are challenging to clean manually.

A study by the National Institutes of Health attests to the high efficacy of UV light in inactivating various pathogens, including viruses and bacteria.

However, the initial investment for UV sanitizing equipment can be relatively high.

Despite this, they are often cost-effective in the long run because they reduce the need for disposable cleaning supplies and labor hours.

It's also crucial to ensure that UV sanitizers comply with safety guidelines, as direct exposure to UV light can be harmful.[12]


Air Purifiers: Additional Layer of Safety

Air purifiers equipped with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters or activated carbon can significantly improve indoor air quality by removing airborne particles, allergens, and sometimes even pathogens.

While air purifiers are not a replacement for traditional cleaning methods, they provide an additional layer of safety, particularly useful during flu seasons or pandemics.


Efficacy and Cost-Effectiveness

Air purifiers vary in efficacy based on the filter type used, the space size, and air exchange rates.

They can be a cost-effective solution for maintaining air quality, especially in settings where adequate ventilation is challenging.

However, it's essential to factor in ongoing costs such as filter replacements and electricity.



Summarizing Key Points

Maintaining a clean and healthy daycare environment involves a multi-faceted approach that goes beyond general cleaning.

Specialized cleaning requirements are a necessity, given children's susceptibility to illnesses and the high-traffic nature of daycare facilities.

Understanding and adhering to federal and state guidelines, including those specific to California, is paramount.

The choice of cleaning agents should be both effective and safe, conforming to EPA recommendations.

Technological aids like UV sanitizers and air purifiers can offer an added layer of protection, proven to be both effective and cost-efficient in the long run.

Furthermore, implementing and documenting a rigorous cleaning schedule, aligned with trusted standards like "Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards," ensures a consistent and comprehensive cleaning regimen.


The Imperative of Specialized Cleaning

It's crucial to reiterate that specialized cleaning isn't an optional luxury but a fundamental necessity for daycare providers.

The welfare of the children in your care depends on a meticulously clean environment, free from harmful pathogens and toxins.

Your commitment to maintaining stringent cleaning protocols not only elevates the quality of care you provide but also builds trust with parents, reinforcing the essential role you play in their children's early years.


Call to Action

Take the Initiative: Update Your Cleaning Protocols

To daycare providers, the health and well-being of the children in your care are paramount.

As our understanding of hygiene and sanitation continues to evolve, so should your cleaning protocols.

Keeping abreast of the latest guidelines from reputable sources like the CDC, EPA, and state regulatory bodies is crucial.

Therefore, take the initiative to regularly review and update your cleaning and disinfection procedures to incorporate the most current best practices.


Choose Verified, Effective Cleaning Agents

Opting for cleaning agents isn't just a routine decision; it's a commitment to the safety and health of the young lives you are responsible for.

Ensure you use verified, effective cleaning agents that are EPA-approved and align with federal and state guidelines.

Prioritize those that have been scientifically tested for both efficacy and safety in childcare settings.


Concluding Note

There is no room for compromise regarding maintaining a clean, safe, and healthy environment in daycare facilities.

Your choices today will pave the way for a healthier, happier tomorrow for the children and your daycare business.

Take action now to refine your cleaning protocols and ensure you use the most effective and safe products.

If you would like more information regarding the effectiveness of high-performance infection prevention and control measures, or if you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation on-site assessment of your facility's custodial needs, contact us today for a free quote!

In Bakersfield, CA, call (661) 437-3253

In Fresno, CA, call (559) 206-1059

In Valencia, CA, or Santa Clarita, CA, call (661) 437-3253

In Palmdale, CA, or Lancaster, CA, call (661) 371-4756



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  4. Guo, N., Ma, H., Deng, J., Ma, Y., Huang, L., Guo, R., & Zhang, L. (2018). Effect of hand washing and personal hygiene on hand food mouth disease. Medicine, 97(51), e13144.
  5. CDC. (2022, November 2). Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  6. How To Clean and Disinfect Early Care and Education Settings | CDC. (2023, May 17).
  7. Rose-Malm, J. (n.d.). Tips to Reduce the Use of Toxic Chemicals in Child Care Programs. Retrieved August 29, 2023, from
  8. US EPA. (2014, November 20). Identifying Greener Cleaning Products. US EPA.
  9. EPA. (n.d.). Disinfectants Pesticides.
  10. Environmental Guidelines. (2019).
  11. Caring for Our Children | National Resource Center. (2019).
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