Child Health, Safety, and Well-being

 Tips: Sanitizing and Disinfecting

Last Updated: April 13, 2023
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Cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting are terms used to reduce the spread of germs within a child care setting. They each have different meanings, but each are key steps to reducing the spread of germs and infection. 

Click here for the military's Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting Frequency Table for Child Development Centers and Family Child Care Home Settings​.


Removes dirt and some germs from surfaces. Does not kill germs, but reduces the impurities and number of germs to reduce spread of infections and allows for better sanitizing and disinfecting. 


Does not destroy germs but further reduces the amount of germs on cleaned surfaces. 


Destroys (kills) residual germs on clean surfaces by using EPA-registered disinfectants and proper procedures (such as contact time). This will not clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. It is important to use the right disinfecting solution for the right purpose and apply it in the right way. A freshly made dilute mixture of bleach and water with proper concentration is often best, but can be irritating and have potential harmful effects to children and childcare providers and can damage some surfaces. Appropriate personal protective equipment and measures should be used when using bleach solutions.