Preparing for Parenthood: Cleaning Your Home

Keeping your baby healthy means more than feeding them good food and regular checkups with their doctor. It can also mean maintaining a clean environment for them at home.

Navigating the new cleaning routine can be challenging for new parents. In fact, new research from the American Cleaning Institute found that nearly 3 in 5 new or expecting parents (57%) felt less than completely prepared to use cleaning products properly and safely around a new baby

Having a proper cleaning routine can go a long way to keeping your house — and your baby — happy and healthy.

Path to improved health

There are three types of cleaning you can do around your home. It’s important to know the differences.

Cleaning is removing unwanted contaminants such as soil, dirt and grease from a surface, material, or your hands. This is typically done with soap and water or a proper surface cleaner.

Sanitizing is when you reduce—but not necessarily eliminate—the number of bacteria on a surface to levels considered safe. These levels are determined by public health codes or regulations.

Disinfecting uses chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. These can include bleach or alcohol solutions that can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi.

It is important to have a regular cleaning routine when you bring your baby home from the hospital. This includes:

  • Regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, electronics, faucets, countertops, and toys.
  • Wiping down the kitchen at least once a week, including the fridge, microwave and floors.
  • Washing your hands after cleaning your home. Especially after changing a diaper or taking out the trash.
  • Doing laundry at least once a week. If you are washing cloth diapers, you should do it every other day.
  • Cleaning the baby’s high chair after each meal.

Things to consider

Babies’ immune systems aren’t as strong as adults. That’s why it’s even more important to clean thoroughly when your baby is sick. If you have a sick child, you should:

  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly.
  • Have the whole household wash their hands frequently, following proper handwashing practices.
  • Have hand sanitizer readily available for when washing with soap and water isn’t possible.

You should also take extra steps when washing the sick baby’s clothes, blankets and bedding. Wash with a deeper-cleaning detergent using the hot cycle on your washing machine.

Once the baby feels better, you should wash or disinfect all the toys they may have touched when they were sick. Properly cleaning and disinfecting toys depends on the type of toy.

For toys with a porous surface (made from materials that have small holes):

  • Make sure the toy is machine washable before cleaning.
  • Put the toy in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase that is tightly secured at the top.
  • Wash it on the delicate cycle, using cold water and regular detergent.
  • Keep the toy in the bag or pillowcase when you put it in the dryer on a low setting.

For toys with plastic or hard surfaces:

  • Remove any dirt or soil by washing with soap and water.
  • Sanitize or disinfect with EPA registered products. Be sure to read the label for proper usage.
  • Let the disinfectant dry, then rinse the toys before giving them back to your child.

Toys that a baby can put in their mouth should be sanitized and rinsed between uses. You should also disinfect your baby’s play spaces on a regular basis.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What kind of cleaners are safe to use around my baby?
  • How often should I clean my child’s toys and play area?
  • What can happen if my house isn’t clean?


American Cleaning Institute: Clean First Steps

National Library of Medicine: Medline Plus: Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing


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