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What are the recommendations and requirements for sanitising and disinfecting?

There are typically two levels of sanitizing and disinfecting in an ECE facility:

➊ Routine sanitizing and disinfecting: This level is used for those areas that need sanitizing and disinfecting on a regular basis (after proper cleaning with a high-quality microfiber cloth and an all-purpose detergent).

Areas requiring routine sanitizing

Food contact surfaces (surfaces where food is served, stored, or prepared)

Areas needing routine disinfection

  • Surfaces and items that are regulated by state child care licensing requirements, such as changing tables and bathroom sinks and toilets.
  • High-touch areas that are at high risk for collecting lots of germs, like doorknobs, bathroom faucets, and drinking fountains.

The national quality standards for health and safety in child care are contained in the book Caring for Our Children (CFOC), by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, and the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education. It is available online at and includes a table of recommendations for which areas in ECE facilities require cleaning, sanitizing, or disinfection and how often. See Appendix D: Model Center Policy on What, Where and how often to Clean, Sanitize, and Disinfect in ECE on page 58 for a copy of these recommendations.

Routine sanitizing and disinfection are also required by state child care regulations. For example, in California, the most populous state, the California Child Care Licensing regulations mandate sanitizing and disinfecting in child care facilities to reduce the risk of infectious diseases. For information on regulations in other states, see The chart below provides the sanitizing and disinfecting requirements for California child care centres’ infant and toddler classrooms, as well as recommendations from Caring for Our Children (CFOC).

➋ Disinfection for incidents and outbreaks. In addition to routine sanitizing and disinfecting the following incidents and outbreaks require increased sanitizing and disinfecting:

  • Outbreaks of contagious diseases, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), influenza, and other infectious diseases. For outbreaks, increased disinfection of high-touch areas is appropriate. For guidance on specific disease outbreaks, go to the CDC website.
  • Incidents involving blood and body fluids, such as fights, nosebleeds, and accidents on the playground.
  • Incidents involving faeces, vomit, and saliva, such as in toileting areas in preschool.

For areas not mentioned in the Caring for Our Children recommendations or your state regulations, consider whether the area is a high-tech area. Is it a surface touched by many children and caregivers during the day? If so, it is a surface that needs to be cleaned and may need to be sanitized or disinfected, especially when there is an outbreak of infectious disease in the facility.

It is important to know the differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting and what surfaces require what degree of cleanliness, because you only want to use the least hazardous products and methods that are necessary for the task.

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