Are toys making your children sick?
Prevent illnesses caused by germs by cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and children’s toys on a regular basis.
April 14, 2013 - Author: Rita Klavinski, Michigan State University Extension
Bacteria related illness is a serious health issue, especially for pre-school children. Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to bacteria related illness because their immune systems are not developed enough to fight off germs.
Those germs can come from both food and surfaces. According to the Partnership for Food Safety Education dangerous germs – like hepatitis A virus and rotavirus – can live on surfaces for several weeks. If someone touches those surfaces, germs can get on the person’s hands and then be transferred into the mouth, to other people, or to food. Since small children love to explore and touch things and often put things in their mouths, it is important to kill any germs that may be on surfaces. Parents and caregivers need to take time to not only clean, but also sanitize those frequently touched surfaces.
Cleaning and sanitizing aren’t the same. Cleaning – which is removing dirt and debris – comes before sanitizing. A sanitizing solution is then used to kill germs. Michigan State University Extension recommends combining one tablespoon of regular bleach with one gallon of warm water in a clean bucket for a sanitizing solution. Start by cleaning surfaces, such as tables and play items with hot water and soap and thoroughly rinse. Then apply the sanitizing solution and allow the surfaces to air dry.
Use this method to also clean and sanitize high-chair trays, sinks, kitchen counters, and large plastic or rubber toys. In addition to toys, wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot water and soap after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food. To further reduce harmful germs put small plastic toys in the top rack of a dishwasher to disinfect them.
Have a regular schedule for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and toys. This is one of the best ways to avoid illnesses caused by germs, especially for children.