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Tips for Child-Safe Cleaning

There are lots of good ways to practice child-safe cleaning. Keeping your child in good health and your home clean doesn't mean you need to go crazy scrubbing every doorknob, says Neeta Ogden.  Here are a few tips.

  • Choose safer household cleaners. Experts say that you should look for household cleaners that are less caustic and friendlier to both the environment and the body. Look for "green" and "nontoxic" cleaners, or products that say, "petroleum-free," "biodegradable," "phosphate-free," "VOC-free," or "solvent-free."  

  • Less is more. Many household cleaners can be diluted with water and clean quite effectively, says Ogden. Diluting a cleaner is an easy way of making it less harsh and better for child-safe cleaning.



    People often assume that better household cleaners will cost more. Here's where diluting a cleaner has another benefit. "If you're diluting a cleaning product and using less of it each time, you could really save money," Lunder tells WebMD.

  • Skip the antibacterial soap. Despite the popularity of antibacterial soaps, plain old soap and water will get the germs off just as well. Antibacterial soap not only contains chemicals you don't need, but in the long term it may increase the risk of creating tougher, resistant bacteria.



    "It's like dipping your kids' hands in penicillin constantly," says Harvey Karp, MD, a pediatrician and author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block. "It's really not something you need to do."

  • Don't use spray-on carpet cleaners. According to experts, chemical carpet cleaners contain a lot of ingredients that can become trapped in a carpet. For child-safe cleaning, use a steam cleaner with water and no detergent.

  • Make your own cleaning agents. Yes, it might sound a bit Little House on the Prairie, but it's actually easy to make your own household cleaners. What's the advantage? You know exactly what's going in them. You can make a good kitchen cleaner out of baking soda and a little soap. Diluted vinegar is good for cleaning windows.

  • Make sure others understand your cleaning regimen. If you have help at home -- like a babysitter or a cleaning service -- make sure that they understand your approach to child-safe cleaning, Lunder says. Show them the household cleaners you use and how and when you would use them.

  • Stop dirt from getting in the house.  Make sure that you wipe your feet as you come in the house -- it will keep out dirt as well as any contaminants from outside. Better yet, take off your shoes as you come in the house. The floor won't get as dirty and you can clean less often.

  • Don't clean with the kids in the room. When you're a harried parent, it's tempting to multitask -- to spray cleaner on the table while your baby is having snack. It's much better to use household cleaners without your child in the room. Make sure to ventilate it before your kid comes back in.

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