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Sanitizing and Disinfecting in Child Care

Keeping objects and surfaces in child care settings clean and pathogen free is important for the health of children in care, child care providers, families and the community.

Recent changes to the concentration of bleach, changes to testing protocols for EPA bleach registration, and the variety of products available on the market make it no longer possible to recommend a generic recipe for mixing bleach solutions for sanitizing and disinfecting.  Instead, follow these steps:

  1. Identify the surface and what treatment it needs.  Refer to Appendix K: Routine Schedule for Cleaning, Sanitizing, andDisinfecting in Caring for Our Children​.
  2. Be sure to clean surfaces with soap and water before sanitizing or disinfecting.
  3. Choose the right product for the job. Products can be concentrated or pre-mixed, but must meet the Oregon Health Authority approved criteria below.
  4. It the product requires mixing, follow the label instructions and prepare solutions daily.   
  5. Mix and use the products safely, preferably when children are not present.
  6. Finally, store all chemicals safely, out of the reach of children, and in a way that they will not tip and spill.

The Oregon Health Authority developed criteria for sanitizers and disinfectants for use in child care facilities in order to assure that the products are effective in controlling infection, preventing disease transmission and have limited health risks.

Criteria for all products used as disinfectants or sanitizers:

  1. Must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a disinfectant or sanitizer. If the product label says it is a disinfectant or sanitizer, and the label has an EPA registration number, then it meets this requirement.
  2. Test strips must be available to confirm concentrations after on-site mixing or product must be a ready-to-use formula that does not require on-site mixing.
  3. Must have an effective contact dwell time of 5 minutes or less listed on the product label. Contact dwell time is the amount of time the product must sit on a surface in order to kill the microorganisms the product claims to kill.
  4. Active ingredient must not be listed as a group 1, 2A, or 2B carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It must not be  “known” or “reasonably anticipated to be carcinogenic to humans” by the National Toxicology Program (NTP).To find out whether an active ingredient has one of these designations, look for it on the IARC list found here, and the NTP list found here.
  5. Sanitizers must not require a rinse step after use on food contact surfaces according to the label.
  6. Must not contain additives for fragrance or coloring purposes.

Additional criteria for non-asthma-causing disinfectants and sanitizers

  1. Active ingredient must not be an asthmagen according to the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC). To find out whether an active ingredient is on AOEC’s list of known asthmagens, follow this link and search for the active ingredient or click “display all asthmagens” and search for the active ingredient.  Hydrogen peroxide is one example of an active ingredient that is not listed as an asthmagen by AOEC.


**Please recycle posters and Info Cards that provide generic mixing recipes for bleach. ​​​​​​​​​