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How to Keep your Day Care Facility Clean


Minnesota Rules
Bleach Cleaning/Disinfecting Solution
Cleaning and Disinfection Steps
Hard Plastic Toys
   Battery Corrosion
Stuffed Toys
Water Play Tables
Potty Chairs
Diaper Changing Area

Clothing and Diapers
Body Fluid Spills
Hand Washing


The State's rules explain what to do. The text immediately following explains how and why...


Minnesota Rules


Subp. 13. Diapers. Children in diapers shall be kept clean and dry. The following sanitary procedures must be used to reduce the spread of communicable disease.

A. An adequate supply of clean diapers must be available for each child and stored in a clean place inaccessible to children. If cloth diapers are used, parents must provide a change of the outer plastic pants for each fecally soiled diaper change. Cloth diapers, except those supplied by a commercial diaper service, and plastic pants, if supplied by parents, must be labeled with the child's name.

B. Diapers and clothing must be changed when wet or soiled.

C. For disposable diapers, a covered diaper disposal container must be located in the diaper changing area and lined with a disposable plastic bag. The container must be emptied when full, and at least daily.

D. Diapering must not take place in a food preparation area. The diaper changing area must be covered with a smooth, nonabsorbent surface. If the surface is not disposable and is wet or soiled, it must be washed with soap and water to remove debris and then disinfected with a solution of at least two teaspoons of chlorine bleach to one quart of water. If the surface is not soiled with feces or urine, then it must be disinfected with the solution of chlorine bleach and water after each diapering.

E. Single service disposable wipes or freshly laundered cloths must be used for washing a soiled child. A child who has soiled or wet must be washed with a disposable wipe or a freshly laundered cloth before rediapering.

F. Cloth diapers, except those supplied by a commercial diaper service, plastic pants, and soiled clothing must be placed in the plastic bag after removal and sent home with the parent daily.

Subp. 14. Toilet training chairs. Toilet training chairs, chairs, stools, and seats must be washed with soap and water when soiled, and at least daily.

Subp. 15. Hand washing. A child's hands must be washed with soap and water when soiled, after the use of a toilet or toilet training chair, and before eating a meal or snack. The provider shall monitor and assist the child who needs help.

A. In sinks and tubs accessible to children, the water temperature must not exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent children from scalding themselves while washing.

B. Caregivers shall wash their hands with soap and water after each diaper change, after assisting a child on the toilet, after washing the diapering surface, and before food preparation. Hands must be dried on a single use towel.

How to Clean Toys with Bleach Solution 

  1. Wash with soap and water to remove dirt. 
  2. Rinse thoroughly with clean water. 
  3. Soak toys for 5 minutes in a solution of 3/4 cup bleach and 1 gallon of water. 
  4. Rinse thoroughly with water. 


Recipe for Weaker Bleach Disinfecting Solution 

(For use on toys, eating utensils, etc.) 

1 tablespoon bleach 
1 gallon cool water 

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Routine cleaning with soap and water is the most useful method for removing germs from surfaces in the child care setting. Good mechanical cleaning (scrubbing with soap and water) physically reduces the numbers of germs from the surface, just as hand washing reduces the numbers of germs from the hands. Removing germs in the child care setting is especially important for soiled surfaces which cannot be treated with chemical disinfectants, such as some upholstery fabrics. 

However, some items and surfaces should receive an additional step, disinfection, to kill germs after cleaning with soap and and rinsing with clear water. Items that can be washed in a dishwasher or hot cycle of a washing machine do not have to be disinfected because these machines use water that is hot enough for a long enough period of time to kill most germs. The disinfection process uses chemicals that are stronger than soap and water. Disinfection also usually requires soaking or drenching the item for several minutes to give the chemical time to kill the remaining germs. 

A solution of bleach and water loses its strength very quickly and easily. It is weakened by organic material, evaporation, heat, and sunlight. Therefore, bleach solution should be mixed fresh each day to make sure it is effective. Any leftover solution should be discarded at the end of the day. Keep the bleach solution you mix each day in a cool place out of direct sunlight and out of the reach of children. (Be aware that some infectious agents are not killed by bleach. For example, cryptosporidia is only killed by ammonia or hydrogen peroxide.) 

Important! NEVER mix bleach with anything but fresh tap water! Other chemicals may react with bleach and create and release a toxic chlorine gas. 

  • Toys that children (particularly infants and toddlers) put in their mouths should be washed and disinfected between uses by individual children. 
  • Toys and equipment used by older children and not put into their mouths should be cleaned at least weekly and when obviously soiled. 

To wash and disinfect a hard plastic toy: 

  1. Scrub the toy in warm, soapy water. Use a brush to reach into the crevices. 
  2. Rinse the toy in clean water. 
  3. Immerse the toy in a mild bleach solution (see above) and allow it to soak in the solution for 10-20 minutes. 
  4. Remove the toy from the bleach solution and rinse well in cool water. 
  5. Air dry. 

Hard plastic toys that are washed in a dishwasher or cloth toys washed in the hot water cycle of a washing machine do not need to be additionally disinfected. 

Stuffed toys used by only a single child should be cleaned in a washing machine every week, or more frequently if heavily soiled. 

Toys Damaged by Battery Corrosion:

Be sure to replace batteries as they become weakened and you will not have to try to salvage a toy.

What has happened is your battery is dying slowly, and unfortunately, as it dies, leaks out an alkaline: Potassium Hydroxide. This is a corrosive base, much like lye. The way to neutralize the leakage is to removed the batteries, and if you can get to the inner workings of the toys' circuit board, wash all of the affected areas with a solution containing a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and pure water. Scrub carefully with a good toothbrush or very gently with a cotton swab, and then rinse with pure water and force dry with a hair dryer. Replace with fresh batteries, and then give the toy a try. If it still doesn't work then the damage has been extensive and you will have to throw out the toy.

Water Play Tables 

  1. Disinfect the table with chlorine bleach solution before filling it with water. 
  2. Disinfect all toys to be used in the table with chlorine bleach solution. Avoid using sponge toys. They can trap bacteria and are difficult to clean. 
  3. Have all children wash their hands before and after playing in the water table.
  4. Do not allow children with open sores or wounds to play in the water table.
  5. Carefully supervise the children to make sure they don't drink the water. 
  6. Discard water after play is over. 


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Bathroom surfaces, such as faucet handles and toilet seats, should be washed and disinfected several times a day, if possible, but at least once a day or when soiled. 

Surfaces should be drenched or soaked with the disinfectant for at least 10 minutes. Surfaces likely to be mouthed should be thoroughly wiped with a fresh towel moistened with tap water. 


Potty Chairs 

  1. Immediately empty the contents into a toilet, being careful not to splash or touch the water in the toilet. 
  2. Rinse the potty with water from a sink used only for custodial cleaning. DO NOT rinse the potty in a sink used for washing hands. A sink used for food preparation should NEVER be used for this purpose. 
  3. Dump the rinse water into a toilet. 
  4. Wash and disinfect the potty chair. 
  5. Wash and disinfect the sink and all exposed surfaces. 
  6. Wash your hands thoroughly. 

Washing and Disinfecting Diaper Changing Areas 

Diaper changing areas should: 

  • Only be used for changing diapers. 
  • Be smooth and nonporous, such as Formica ( NOT wood). 
  • Have a raised edge or low “fence” around the area to prevent a child from falling off. 
  • Be next to a sink with running water. 
  • Not be used to prepare food, mix formula, or rinse pacifiers. 
  • Be easily accessible to providers.
  • Be out of reach of children. 

After each diaper change: 

  1. Clean the surface with soap and water and rinse with clear water.
  2. Dry the surface with a paper towel.
  3. Thoroughly wet the surface with the recommended bleach solution. 
  4. Air dry. Do not wipe. 


Do not wash or rinse clothing soiled with fecal material in the child care setting. You may empty solid stool into the toilet, but be careful not to splash or touch toilet water with your hands. Put the soiled clothes in a plastic bag and seal the bag to await pick up by the child's parent or guardian at the end of the day. Always wash your hands after handling soiled clothing. 

Explain to parents that washing or rinsing soiled diapers and clothing increases the chances that you and the children may be exposed to germs that cause diseases. Although receiving soiled clothes isn't pleasant, remind parents that this policy protects the health of all children and providers. 


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Each item of sleep equipment, including cribs, cots, mattresses, blankets, sheets, etc., should be cleaned and sanitized before being assigned to a specific child. 

The bedding items should be labeled with that child's name, and should only be used by that child.

Children should not share bedding. 

  • Infants’ linens (sheets, pillowcases, blankets) should be cleaned and sanitized daily, and crib mattresses should be cleaned and sanitized weekly and when soiled or wet. 
  • Linens from beds of older children should be laundered at least weekly and whenever soiled. 
  • If a child inadvertently uses another child’s bedding, you should change the linen and mattress cover before allowing the assigned child to use it again. 
  • All blankets should be changed and laundered routinely at least once a month. 

Cleaning Up Body Fluid Spills 

  • Spills of body fluids, including blood, feces, nasal and eye discharges, saliva, urine, and vomit should be cleaned up immediately. 
  • Wear gloves unless the fluid can be easily contained by the material (e.g., paper tissue or cloth) being used to clean it up. Be careful not to get any of the fluid you are cleaning in your eyes, nose, mouth or any open sores you may have. 
  • Clean and disinfect any surfaces, such as countertops and floors, on which body fluids have been spilled. 
  • Discard fluid-contaminated material in a plastic bag that has been securely sealed. 
  • Mops used to clean up body fluids should be: 

(1) cleaned, 

(2) rinsed with a disinfecting solution, 

(3) wrung as dry as possible, and 

(4) hung to dry completely. Be sure to wash your hands after cleaning up any spill. 


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Most experts agree that the single most effective practice that prevents the spread of germs in the child care setting is good handwashing by child care providers, children, and others. Some activities in particular expose children and providers to germs or the opportunity to spread them. You can stop the spread of germs by washing your hands and teaching the children in your care good handwashing practices. 

When Hands Should Be Washed 


  • Upon arrival at the child care setting. 
  • Immediately before and after eating. 
  • After using the toilet or having their diapers changed. 
  • Before using water tables. 
  • After playing on the playground. 
  • After handling pets, pet cages, or other pet objects. 
  • Whenever hands are visibly dirty. 
  • Before going home.


  • Before the children arrive.
  • Immediately before handling food, preparing bottles, or feeding children.
  • After using the toilet, assisting a child in using the toilet, or changing diapers. 
  • After contacting a child's body fluids, including wet or soiled diapers, runny noses, spit, vomit, etc. 
  • After handling pets, pet cages, or other pet objects. 
  • Whenever hands are visibly dirty or after cleaning up a child, the room, bathroom items, or toys.
  • After removing gloves used for any purpose.* 
  • Before giving or applying medication or ointment to a child or self. 
  • After all the children go home. 

*If gloves are being used, hands should be washed immediately after gloves are removed even if hands are not visibly contaminated. Use of gloves alone will not prevent contamination of hands or spread of germs and should not be considered a substitute for hand washing. 

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Premoistened towelettes or wipes and waterless hand cleaners 

  • These should not be used as a substitute for washing hands with soap and running water. 
  • Towelettes should only be used to remove residue, such as food off a baby's face or feces from a baby's bottom during diaper changing. 
  • When running water is unavailable, such as during an outing, towelettes may be used as a temporary measure until hands can be washed under running water. 

A child care provider may use a towelette to clean hands while diapering a child who cannot be left alone on a changing table that is not within reach of running water. However, hands should be washed as soon as diapering is completed and child is removed from the changing table. 

Water basins should not be used as an alternative to running water. If forced to use a water basin as a temporary measure, clean and disinfect the basin between each use. Outbreaks have been linked with sharing wash water and washbasins. 

How to Wash Hands 

  1. Always use warm, running water and a mild, preferably liquid, soap. Antibacterial soaps may be used, but are not required. 
  2. Wet the hands and apply a small amount (dime to quarter size) of liquid soap to hands. 
  3. Rub hands together vigorously until a soapy lather appears and continue for at least 15 seconds. Be sure to scrub between fingers, under fingernails, and around the tops and palms of the hands. 
  4. Rinse hands under warm running water. Leave the water running while drying hands. 
  5. Dry hands with a clean, disposable (or single use) towel, being careful to avoid touching the faucet handles or towel holder with clean hands. 
  6. Turn the faucet off using the towel as a barrier between your hands and the faucet handle. 
  7. Discard the used towel in a trash can lined with a fluid-resistant (plastic) bag. Trash cans with foot-pedal operated lids are preferable. 
  8. Consider using hand lotion to prevent chapping of hands. If using lotions, use liquids or tubes that can be squirted so that the hands do not have direct contact with container spout. Direct contact with the spout could contaminate the lotion inside the container. 
  9. When assisting a child in hand washing, either hold the child (if an infant) or have the child stand on a safety step at a height at which the child's hands can hang freely under the running water. Assist the child in performing all of the above steps and then wash your own hands. 

The Use of Hand Sanitizers in Place of Washing with Soap and Water

"Typically, people carry between 10,000 and 10 million bacteria on each hand. We all know the importance of good hand washing in reducing harmful microorganisms on the skin, but what about those times when there is no access to hand washing facilities or not enough time to wash thoroughly? Can a hand sanitizer (alcohol gel) serve as a suitable alternative to hand washing? ... Alcohol works immediately and effectively to kill bacteria and most viruses. Solutions containing 60-95% alcohol are most effective. Higher concentrations are less potent because proteins are not denatured easily in the absence of water. Alcohol gels work by stripping away the outer layer of oil on the skin, thereby destroying any 'transient' microorganisms present on the surface of the hands.... 

How do the "alcohol-based hand rubs" compare to soap and water? While alcohol gels are convenient and popular, they are not meant to replace soap and water. Alcohol gels do not work to remove pieces of dirt and food... Hand sanitizers should primarily be used only as an optional follow-up to traditional hand washing with soap and water, except in situations where soap and water are not available. In those instances, use of an alcohol gel is certainly better than nothing at all."  Source

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Last Update: 1/27/2017
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