How to clean toys, loose parts and manipulatives in Kindergarten
The big trick to keeping things clean is you basically always need to be disinfecting something! Our basic routine in the morning is to fill the teacher sink that is out of reach of the children with hot water, and add some bleach. We give items with obvious soiling a good scrub with dish soap and water in their own bin. Then the first batch of hard toys gets added in to soak in the bleach water. They sit until we can pull them out- usually at snack time! We give them a rinse with clean water, then we lay them on a towel to air dry on the counter-top. And we refill the sink again… we try to wash three batches of hard manipulatives a day. At night we take home the towel to wash and dry it and bring it back for the morning to start again! This is also a fantastic task for parent volunteers if you have them. This year I think we will also be using a lot more Lysol wipes on all our high touch surfaces. I’m waiting to hear if we will be allowed to share manipulatives and books this year.
Here are the official details from Public Health:
- Remove toys from the play area after use and place them in a collection box for cleaning and disinfection
- Clean and disinfect the collection box at the same time that toys are being cleaned and disinfected
- Clean toys in hot soapy water prior to using a disinfectant
- Use a brush to clean crevices or hard to reach areas
- Rinse toys well under running water as soap may neutralize the disinfectant
- Soak toys in an appropriate disinfectant for required amount of time (contact time)
- Use a solution of 10 ml (2 tsp) sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) per 1 liter (4 cups) of water as a disinfectant. This solution requires a contact time of 2 minutes. Only mix bleach with water and never with other disinfectants or cleaners
- In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be reasonable to instead use a mixture of 20 mL of bleach with 1 litre of water (or 4 tsp of bleach with 4 cups of water) to disinfect hard surfaces with 1 minute of contact time. It is important to remember to make a fresh bleach solution each time you disinfect, or at least everyday. *Note: The contact time, also known as the wet time, is the time that the disinfectant needs to stay wet on a surface to make sure it can kill all the germs. It is the length of time you leave the solution on the surface before wiping it down.
- Rinse toys with clean water to remove any disinfectant solution, if indicated on the label; bleach does not require rinsing
- Clean and disinfect dishwasher-safe, hard plastic toys in a commercial dishwasher with a sanitizer or a hot rinse cycle
- Completely air dry toys before they are returned to use
- Keep a record of when toys were cleaned and disinfected
Cleaning and disinfecting soft, porous toys or dress up clothes
- Launder fabrics or plush toys in a washing machine with hot water, and dry in a clothes dryer on a hot cycle
- Avoid using disinfectant products on porous surfaces
Cleaning other items
- Clean and disinfect other items (e.g., scissors, puzzles, storage bins, etc.) when they are visibly dirty
- Items such as books and some craft equipment may be difficult to clean, so consider discarding them once they are soiled
- Avoid sensory play during an outbreak, such as activities using play dough, sand or water
- Clean and disinfect computer keyboards, mice and other electronics between uses
It might be tempting to mix cleaning products to make sure your facility is germ-free — but don’t. Mixing some cleaners and disinfectants (like chlorine bleach and ammonia) can be harmful, even deadly. Others can irritate your eyes, nose, or throat and cause breathing problems.
There you have it! I hope this helps. Please check with your Public Health Office for updated information as our knowledge about avoiding Covid-19 (and colds and the flu) are being constantly updated. Stay safe, teacher hive!