Q: To prevent colds, I run a disinfectant wipe over all the large toys and surfaces my eight-month-old comes into contact with. My husband thinks I might as well pour bathroom cleaner down our son’s throat. Is he correct?
A: Germs are spread via saliva and moist respiratory body fluids, especially when an infected person coughs or sneezes. So you’re right: Cleaning your son’s toys is an important preventive measure, especially if anyone ill comes into contact with them. Most small hard toys can be placed in the dishwasher (fasten them in place with twist-ties). As long as your dishwasher reaches temperatures above 54°C (130°F), the hot water and detergent will provide the cleaning that’s needed. Larger toys can be cleaned with a chlorine solution, like the kind in your disinfectant wipes, or a homemade blend of 1 tbsp (15 mL) bleach in a gallon (4 L) of water, then rinsed with fresh water and allowed to air-dry.
Remember also that handwashing is still one of the best ways to reduce the spread of germs. And try not to worry too much about the germs your son may run into outside your home. Most children’s immune systems are pretty effective at handling them.