You clean and sanitise almost everything that touches your kids these days, but you may just be neglecting these inconspicuous culprits of filth: Strollers, car seats, high chairs, lunch boxes, sports equipment, mobile phones and tablets.
Here are places you may have overlooked them or never thought to clean them. Pay attention to now and thoroughly clean and sanitise them for your child’s health and well-being.
It is not surprising – and already proven – that most parents wash their car seats just a few times a year. With parents allowing their kids to eat while strapped in, it is also not surprising that you find food remnants crammed in the tiny crevices of their seats.
Car seats are breeding grounds of bacteria as the food remnants and can you imagine the potentially dangerous bacteria lurking in the car seats?
What to do: Simply giving the car seat exterior a wipe-down and vacuuming the fabrics is not enough. This is because food remnants, miniature toys and hair clips often slip through the gaps into the interior. For a thorough clean, it’s best to dismantle the seat and clean the parts individually. If this seems too overwhelming or time-consuming, you can get a specialist cleaning service such as Pramwash to do it for you. Basic cleaning costs from $57.90 per session to $126.90 for Ultimate cleaning.
Besides car seats, baby prams are also storing grounds for food remnants, stains and spills, therefore encouraging the rapid growth of bacteria and creating an unhealthy environment for newborns and toddlers.
What to do: To combat spills or vomit, it’s wise to keep a pack of antibacterial cleansing wipes on hand that you can whip out in a jiffy. Quickly clean as much as you can before you are able to attend to it properly at home.
Same thing, if you do not have the expertise to dismantle and then reassemble the baby stroller after cleaning, you can always engage the services of a cleaning service that specialises in baby equipment.
Any parent with a self-feeding child knows how ridiculously messy it can get. Sometimes when you take the child out of their high chair after a meal, you will find more food beneath them than in their belly.
If you do not clean your child’s high chair regularly, you can end up with caked-on crud and stained, grimy straps.
If you are not careful to clean up all the spilled, smashed, and ground-in food from your child’s high chair regularly, you may be exposing kids to dangerous bacteria. A study of restaurant high chairs (which are not deep-cleaned regularly) found that the dirty children’s seats harboured more germs than a public toilet seat!
What to do: Wipe down the high chair tray after each meal, wipe or brush down the seat every couple of days and do a deeper clean of the whole chair at least once a month.
Kids place backpacks on the floors of school buses, in parking lots, in classrooms and who knows where else. Unless you are washing your child’s backpack with some frequency, it is likely that these germs have built up over time. Be wary of placing backpacks on kitchen tables or other surfaces where you eat.
What to do: To clean your child’s backpack, add a small amount (one to two tablespoons) of gentle detergent as the washer fills with water. Wash the backpack in cold or lukewarm water, using the washer’s delicate or gentle cycle.
Lunch boxes hold germs on the inside, too. Reusable cloth lunch bags and hard insulated lunch boxes can harbour nasty bacteria like E. coli and salmonella thanks to improper food storage techniques and lack of cleaning.
What to do: To clean a lunch box, simply wash using a sponge and warm, soapy water. Leave upside down to air dry. To deodorise a smelly lunch bag or box, simply leaving baking soda in it overnight. Then dump it out and wipe clean in the morning.
Sports equipment and mats
Tossed on locker room floors and covered in sweat, our kids’ sporting mats, bags and equipment are covered in more germs than you might think, and some can cause serious illnesses. Soft gym mats, locker rooms and shared showers can contain athlete’s foot and ringworm fungus.
They can also harbour the virus that causes cold and flu bugs. Sweaty gym clothes left in gym bags also become breeding grounds for both mould and fungus if they are not cleaned.
What to do: Make sure to wash and dry them in the sun often, especially sports gear that are prone to contact with grease, sweat and saliva.
Mobile phone and tablet
It goes into the bathroom with you. You use it in the kitchen. It often touches your face, your desk and, well, just about any other surfaces within an arm’s reach. It is your smartphone, of course. And the tasks listed above are just some of the reasons it is a breeding ground for germs and a cesspool of bacteria. Same goes for tablets.
And often you pass the mobile phone or tablet to your kid to keep them entertained. This exposes them to petri dishes of bacteria.
What to do: When cleaning your electronic device, do not use straight alcohol as that can damage the display and other ports. The safest bet is to use disinfectant wipes that contain 70 per cent isopropyl alcohol to clean your phone screen.
In the past, we were instructed to not use disinfectant wipes on our phone screens, but now Apple says it is OK to use disinfecting wipes. Samsung has not commented on whether it is safe to use disinfectant wipes on its phones.
A version of this article first appeared on Singapore Women’s Weekly.
(Photo of lunchbox: Unsplash; others: 123RF)