Sanitizing To-Do's: What, When and How to Clean Everyday Baby Items
When you become a parent, you also become obsessed with cleaning. And if you weren’t before, the COVID-19 crisis may have turned you into the germ police.
While you can’t keep all germs away from your baby, it is your responsibility to protect your baby and keep his environment clean. Along with practicing good personal hygiene, follow these tips to keep everyday baby items clean and sanitized.
Baby Bottles and Bottle Brushes
Some bottle parts can go in the dishwasher, but most parents choose to wash bottles with a bottle brush and warm, soapy water. Wash every part of a bottle after each feeding, and don’t forget to sanitize the bottle brush either every night or once a week to make sure it’s clean enough to do its job.
Most baby spoons, bowls, plates, and sippy cups can go in the dishwasher. You can also hand wash them with soap and warm water. Wash baby utensils after each feeding.
It’s not uncommon for a baby to go through multiple outfit changes in a day. And it’s very rare if something you dress your baby in is clean enough to be worn again without needing to be washed. So like with your daily wear, wash your baby’s clothes after each use, and make sure to wash new baby clothes and hand-me-downs before dressing your baby in them.
Check the care label for specific washing instructions. Most parents use a special, sensitive detergent and wash their baby’s clothes separate from their clothing, especially if their baby has eczema or if their baby has peed or pooped on her clothing.
Put your baby’s sheets and mattress pad in the washer and dryer once a week or more often if your baby has a leaky diaper. To help keep your baby’s sleep environment clean and lighten the load so you’re not washing your baby’s bedding once or more a week, invest in extra crib sheets.
You should be able to remove the car seat insert and toss it into the washing machine, although some car seat manufacturers recommend hand-washing the cover with cold water and mild soap. Use a washcloth, warm water, and mild soap or baby wipes to clean the buckle, straps, and base. Make sure to let every piece of the car seat dry before reassembling it. Refer to your car seat manual for exact care instructions.
Regularly vacuum out food crumbs, and spot clean for minor spills and spit-up. For blowouts and vomit, you should thoroughly clean your child’s car seat right away. Otherwise, you can wash your child’s car seat once a month or a couple of times a year. It’s up to you and how messy your child is.
If your stroller has a fabric insert, you should be able to take it out and put it in the washing machine. Some companies don’t recommend removing and machine washing it, so instead you can use a damp cloth with cold water and mild soap to wash the fabric part of your stroller. Don’t machine dry a fabric insert, and don’t wait too long in between cleanings. You shouldn’t have to wash your stroller after each use, but the longer you wait, the harder it is to clean.
You’ll want to disinfect stroller handles more often, though. Disinfectant wipes are the most convenient way to clean them, but you can also use a washcloth and warm, soapy water.
Many baby carriers and wraps are machine-washable. You can wash them in cold water on a delicate cycle with a mild detergent. Some can go in the dryer, but others need to air dry. Check the care label for exact instructions as not all manufacturers have the same cleaning guidelines.
Wash a baby carrier before the first use, but you don’t need to wash it after each use. Most manufacturers simply say to wash carriers when necessary. You can always spot clean your baby carrier by hand with a damp cloth and mild detergent or soap and warm water.
Shopping Cart Hammocks and Cart Covers
Cleaning a shopping cart hammock and cart cover is pretty simple. You can wash both in a washing machine on a gentle cycle in cold water. Lay a shopping cart hammock flat to dry, but you can put a shopping cart cover in the dryer on a low heat setting.
How often you wash your hammock and cover is up to you. Some people wipe them down with a baby wipe or with a washcloth, soap, and water after each use and then put them in the washing machine after every few uses. Other parents put them in the washing machine after each use to disinfect them before using again.
Teething Rings and Pacifiers
Wash baby teething toys and pacifiers in the dishwasher – if they’re dishwasher safe – or with soap and warm water. You can also boil them in hot water. These two baby items should be sanitized daily or more often if they’re dropped on the floor, licked by a dog, etc.
You’d think bath toys would stay clean since they go where your child goes to get clean, but they’re actually one of the dirtier children’s toys. Bath toys spend most of their time submerged in warm water and then they sit out in a humid bathroom, which makes bath toys a hub for bacteria. To help keep bath toys germ-free, rinse them off with hot water, squeeze out any excess water, and let them dry in a cool, dry place after each bath.
Plastic toys are easy to clean. Wash them with warm, soapy water or put them in the dishwasher if they’re dishwasher safe and don’t have any batteries or electrical parts. Wash plastic baby toys when visibly dirty or more often if the toys end up in your baby’s mouth.
With stuffed animals and other plush toys, always check the label for care instructions. Oftentimes you can put plush toys in the washing machine on a warm, gentle cycle. Wash plush toys when noticeably dirty. Some experts recommend washing plush toys once a month or every time you wash your baby’s bedding. This should be done at least every two weeks, especially if your baby holds and/or sucks on his lovey every day.