Disinfecting Your Daycare Center

Daycare centers that remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic should address these additional considerations: 

  • Implement social distancing strategies
  • Intensify cleaning and disinfection efforts
  • Modify drop off and pick up procedures
  • Implement screening procedures up arrival
  • Maintain an adequate ratio of staff to children to ensure safety.
    • Plan ahead and recruit those with child care experience to ensure you have a roster of substitute caregivers who can fill in if your staff members are sick or stay home to care for sick family members.
  • When feasible, staff members and older children should wear face coverings within the facility. Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies and children under age two because of the danger of suffocation.

Clean and Disinfect

(CFOC) provides national standards for cleaning, sanitizing and disinfection of educational facilities for children. Toys that can be put in the mouth should be cleaned and sanitized (see below). Other hard surfaces, including diaper changing stations, door knobs, and floors can be disinfected.

 Intensify cleaning and disinfection efforts: 

 Facilities should develop a schedule for cleaning and disinfecting.

Routinely clean, sanitize, and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched, especially toys and games. This may also include cleaning objects/surfaces not ordinarily cleaned daily such as doorknobs, light switches, classroom sink handles, countertops, nap pads, toilet training potties, desks, chairs, cubbies, and playground structures. Use the cleaners typically used at your facility. Guidance is available for the selection of appropriate sanitizers or disinfectant for child care settings. 

  • Use all cleaning products according to the directions on the label. For disinfection, most common EPA-registered, fragrance-free household disinfectants should be effective. A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available. If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for concentration, application method, and contact time for all cleaning and disinfection products.
  • If possible, provide EPA-registered disposable wipes to child care providers and other staff members so that commonly used surfaces such as keyboards, desks, and remote controls can be wiped down before use. If wipes are not available, please refer to CDC’s guidance on disinfection for community settings.
  • All cleaning materials should be kept secure and out of reach of children.
  • Cleaning products should not be used near children, and staff should ensure that there is adequate ventilation when using these products to prevent children from inhaling toxic fumes.

Clean and Sanitize Toys

  • Toys that cannot be cleaned and sanitized should not be used.
  • Toys that children have placed in their mouths or that are otherwise contaminated by body secretions or excretions should be set aside until they are cleaned by hand by a person wearing gloves. Clean with water and detergent, rinse, sanitize with an EPA-registered disinfectant, rinse again, and air-dry. You may also clean in a mechanical dishwasher. Be mindful of items more likely to be placed in a child’s mouth, like play food, dishes, and utensils.
  • Machine washable cloth toys should be used by one individual at a time or should not be used at all. These toys should be laundered before being used by another child.
  • Do not share toys with other groups of infants or toddlers, unless they are washed and sanitized before being moved from one group to the other.
  • Set aside toys that need to be cleaned. Place in a dish pan with soapy water or put in a separate container marked for “soiled toys.” Keep dish pan and water out of reach from children to prevent risk of drowning. Washing with soapy water is the ideal method for cleaning. Try to have enough toys so that the toys can be rotated through cleanings.
  • Children’s books, like other paper-based materials such as mail or envelopes, are not considered a high risk for transmission and do not need additional cleaning or disinfection procedures.

Clean and Disinfect Bedding

  • Use bedding (sheets, pillows, blankets, sleeping bags) that can be washed. Keep each child’s bedding separate, and consider storing in individually labeled bins, cubbies, or bags. Cots and mats should be labeled for each child. Bedding that touches a child’s skin should be cleaned weekly or before use by another child.

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