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How to Clean and Disinfect the 5 Germiest Kids' Items at Home

Clean and disinfect the germiest kids items at home

Babies and kids aren’t exactly known for being clean. In fact, they have quite a reputation for being messy and dirty. It’s not just their toys that need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly; it’s also the items they use frequently, such as strollers, diaper bags, and sippy cups.  

According to a study by A Secure Life, here are the 5 germiest kids’ items:

  1. Strollers

  2. Pacifiers and sippy cups

  3. Plush toys

  4. Diaper bags

  5. TV remotes 

Below, we share the best ways to clean each of these germ-infested items. Regularly cleaning and disinfecting these items can help prevent or minimize the chances of your family getting sick. 

How to clean strollers

Strollers can get dirty and sticky, especially if you use it for diaper changes or your toddler snacks while riding in it. Here are 5 steps to follow when cleaning and disinfecting your stroller:

  1. Consult the stroller’s owner manual or check the manufacturer’s website for care instructions. 

  2. Remove visible grime with a vacuum and a damp cloth. 

  3. Clean the hard parts (frame, handles, cup holders, etc.) with disinfecting wipes. If it’s a food-contact area, such as the food tray, go over the area with potable water after the disinfectant formula dries, and then allow it to air dry again. 

  4. Clean the fabric parts with a damp cloth dipped in warm soapy water. Go over it again with a damp cloth dipped in only water, then let air dry completely.

  5. Clean the wheels by using a brush to remove sand and dirt from the tires and rims, then scrubbing them with soapy warm water, and rinsing off with clear water (using a hose is the easiest way). 

Read our 5-step guide for cleaning and disinfecting baby strollers for more details.

How to clean pacifiers and sippy cups

Pacifiers and sippy cups are constantly exposed to your child’s mouth so should be cleaned frequently.

Pacifiers should be washed with warm soapy water each time it falls on the floor, a table, car seat, or any other surface where it might be exposed to germs. It’s a good idea to carry extra pacifiers for this reason. You can boil them or sanitize them, but doctors say dunking them into warm water with some dish detergent will kill most bacteria and viruses that may cause your child to get sick or get an infection.

Sippy cups should also be washed frequently with warm soapy water. Some of them may be top-rack dishwasher safe. Check the packaging for manufacturer guidance on the best way to wash them. Here are 5 steps to follow when cleaning sippy cups: 

  1. Rinse them out immediately if you can’t wash them right away. Don’t allow milk or juice to sit in it.

  2. Disassemble it prior to washing. Mold can grow in hard-to-clean areas, like the spout, valve, or straw, so it’s important to wash all the parts separately.

  3. Soak it in warm or hot soapy water for about 15 minutes. This is especially important if there’s any dried or sticky residue from milk or juice that needs to be loosened.

  4. Wash each part thoroughly. Consider using a straw or nipple brush, toothbrush, toothpick, or pipe cleaner to get into all the tiny crevices where mold could grow.

  5. Let air dry thoroughly on a drying rack. Don’t set them on a towel to air dry as the cloth can harbor bacteria.

How to clean plush animals

Plush animals get a lot of love from kids. Unfortunately, that also means they pick up a lot of germs, especially if they’re taken outside of the house. 

To clean plush toys, such as stuffed animals, first check the label for care instructions from the manufacturer. If they’re machine washable, place it in a large mesh laundry bag, and toss it into the machine on the gentle cycle. For drying, select the low-heat setting or dry with a hair dryer. If they’re non-washable, dip a clean cloth into warm soapy water, wring it out, and gently spot clean the entire toy. Rinse out the soapy water from the cloth, and go over the toy again. Let air dry completely or dry with a hair dryer. 

For more detailed instructions on cleaning plush toys or to learn how to clean and disinfect other types of toys, read How to Clean and Disinfect Toys Safely.

How to clean diaper bags

Check the label on the diaper bag to see if there are care instructions. Depending on the material and style, cleaning can range from spot cleaning to tossing it into the washing machine. In general, wiping down and spot cleaning should be safe to do on any type of material. Only use a washing machine if the manufacturer label clearly states it’s safe to do so or you risk damaging your diaper bag.

Wiping down your diaper bag once a week is a good idea. If there are any spills or messes that occur between the weekly cleanings, they should be addressed immediately, especially if it could leave a stain. 

A deep cleaning is recommended at least every 6 months. To do a deep clean, follow these steps:

  1. Take everything out of your diaper bag, including everything in all the pockets and compartments. Leave any zippers and clasps open once emptied.

  2. Holding it upside down, shake the bag out over a garbage can or outside so loose crumbs and dirt fall out.

  3. Use a vacuum attachment to remove any remaining dirt, dust, and debris inside the bag.

  4. Mix warm water with mild laundry detergent in a bucket or bowl. Dip in a clean cloth or rag and wring it out. Use the damp cloth to wipe down the entire inside and outside of the bag, including inside compartments, pockets, straps, and handles. 

  5. Go over it again with a clean damp cloth (no soap, only water).

  6. Let the diaper bag air dry completely before using it again. Hang it somewhere with all the zippers and clasps open so it gets as much air circulation as possible. You can also let it dry outside under the sun.

How to clean TV remote controls

The television remote isn’t technically a kids’ item, but it’s likely touched frequently by children and teens to watch their favorite shows and movies. And since snacking is common while watching TV, the remote likely gets its fair share of being touched by greasy or sticky hands. 

The recommendation for TV remotes is to wipe it down with a disinfecting wipe at least once a day. If it’s visibly greasy, sticky, or dirty, then clean it immediately. 


ALSO READ: Tips for Cleaning Your Entire House with Wet Wipes


Curious what else might be crawling with germs besides your children’s stuff? Check out The Top 10 Germiest Spots at Home and get expert cleaning tips on how to minimize your family’s exposure to bacteria and viruses. 

Nice ’N CLEAN® Disinfecting Wipes are now available in store at Costco. They are an easy and convenient way to clean, sanitize, and disinfect nonporous surfaces and items at home.

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