Davis photoThe need to clean for a healthy environment rather than just a good appearance is important, particularly where small children are present.

I discussed this issue with several childcare center directors and gained useful information. Special thanks go to Daisy James, mother’s day out coordinator at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Homewood, Ala., for her insight.

I asked James what was most important in maintaining a clean healthy environment.

“I concentrate on any surface the child touches,” she said. “We pay attention to things like the door gates, trays on infant swings, high-chairs, tables, and of course, toys. Children are prone to put things in their mouth so we avoid using toys that look like food.”

The National Association for Childcare Professionals, www.naccp.org, suggests that operators clean and disinfect the following surfaces after each use: diaper changing surfaces, toilet training equipment, high chairs and mouthed toys.

The organization also recommends that the following be disinfected daily: bathroom sinks, faucets, toilet seats, toilet bowls, flush handles, door handles, light switches, diaper pails, trash containers, toys handled by babies and toddlers, areas where babies play and playpens.

James uses bleach-free disinfecting wipes throughout the day to clean these frequently touched surfaces, while other directors prefer a ready-to-use spray sanitizer. Many facilities use a 1-to-10 bleach-to-water solution at the end of the day to disinfect surfaces, particularly toys. However, I am seeing a move away from the use of bleach to the milder quat-based solutions.

Diaper changing is a frequent occurrence for childcare providers. My research revealed that most operators use some sort of liner to cover the changing table. James prefers paper placemats while others use medical exam table paper or waxed deli sheets. Workers should always wear disposable gloves.

The table should be disinfected and care providers should wash their hands after each changing.

Frequent hand washing is the best way to control the spread of harmful pathogens. Germs hitchhike on hands from one person to the next. Hand washing breaks the transmission cycle. Encourage use of foam hand cleaners and use of alcohol sanitizers.

Diaper disposal involves using some sort of bag or container to hold the soiled diaper until it can be removed to the outside trash container.

“I prefer to use a clear plastic bag for diaper disposal,” said James. “There are special diaper receptacles available, but I don’t really like them. They are awkward to use and do not contain odor very well.”

I like the idea of using a wall-mounted dispenser similar to those in the produce department at a grocery store.

Maintaining clean and odor-free restrooms is often a challenge at childcare facilities, as boys sometimes have trouble with their aim.

Keeping a bottle of ready-to-use disinfectant cleaner nearby is a good idea. Obvious splashes can be cleaned immediately before odor-causing bacteria has time to colonize.

Wiping down the walls adjacent to the commode daily with a germicide and then applying bacterial enzymes usually will keep odor under control.

Childcare organizations make great customers. I suggest you talk to several directors and learn about their business.

You will gain knowledge that makes you valuable to others and will open the door for additional business opportunities. It also feels great to know you are doing your part to keep kids healthy.

Louie Davis Jr. is a 25-year veteran of the jan/san business, having worked on the manufacturing and distribution sides. He is currently a sales representative for Central Paper Co., in Birmingham, Ala.