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Home Ec: Cleaning Baby Stuff Safely

Filed Under: Essential Skills, Know-How

For such little beings, babies can make huge messes. And since everything seems to ends up in their mouths eventually, you want to be certain that everything from their cribs to their strollers are squeaky clean. Reduce surface germs in your home with these safe, all-natural ways for cleaning baby stuff.

cleaning baby gearJupiter Images

Nothing makes you second-guess your own cleaning abilities like the birth of a child. As a previously competent house cleaner, I was at a total loss when my first son was born. Suddenly, I had to figure out how to clean a mountain of baby furniture, toys and traveling gear thoroughly.

Use typical household chemicals on everything? Not the best idea. Babies love to stick icky, dirty things in their mouths. They're experts at it, in fact. Naturally, it's very important to kill surface germs in a non-toxic way that won't harm your baby's health.

Leslie Reichert, cleaning coach and author of The Joy of Green Cleaning, and Ellen Sandbeck, author of four popular green housekeeping books understand the importance of keeping your baby's environment germ-and-toxin free. Here are their easy, all-natural tips for cleaning baby stuff.

cleaning a high chairGetty Images

How to Clean a High Chair
The goal here is to clean without leaving behind any chemical residue that can irritate the baby's tender skin or come in contact with his mouth. To achieve this, Leslie recommends using a microfiber cloth with a homemade all-purpose cleaner, such as a mixture of distilled vinegar and seltzer water. "The vinegar is a natural way to kill bacteria and germs," she notes. If you don't like the smell of vinegar, add an essential oil, which will cancel out the vinegar odor. The result is a great antibacterial spray that won't hurt the baby.

How to Clean a Stroller
Keep a microfiber cloth and a small spray bottle of cleaner in the bottom of the stroller. "Cleaning right when an accident happens is much easier than waiting until you get home," Leslie notes. "A simple (food or drink) spill will harden in hot temperatures, which will be 10 times worse to remove." She also suggests a simple spot remover for spills on stroller upholstery. Homemade spot wipes are a cinch to make by soaking paper towels in a mixture of vinegar, club soda and lemon essential oil. For the stroller's plastic tray, follow the same instructions for cleaning a high chair. As for the fabric, run it through the washing machine regularly, using organic or homemade laundry detergent.

baby, cribGetty Images

How to Clean a Crib

Both Leslie and Ellen suggest getting a very good mattress cover. Organic mattresses are great, but you can also use a high-quality mattress cover to keep the allergens at bay. Launder bedding with a regular, fragrance-free detergent to avoid irritating your baby's sensitive skin or causing allergic reactions. Leslie also recommends Charlie's Soap, a popular non-toxic laundry powder for baby clothes and diapers.

Want to make your own laundry soap? Leslie's great-grandmother recipe has four simple ingredients: baking soda, washing soda, soap flakes and Borax. "This recipe washes totally out of the clothes so the baby won't be aggravated by any residual detergent in the mattress cover," Leslie says.

As for the mattress itself, you can use a steam cleaner and air it out in the sun.

How to Clean a Changing Table
Wipe off any liquids or solids, then clean with the vinegar/hydrogen peroxide dual-spray system. Alternatively, you can steam clean the table as well. Changing table linens can be laundered in the same manner as crib bedding.

baby toysGetty Images

How to Clean Toys
The first place baby toys go? Right in the mouth. Use hydrogen peroxide to clean both plastic and stuffed baby toys. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe way to kill germs, as it can even be used to rinse your mouth. Wash soft toys in the washing machine, but remember to check labels. If toys are not machine-washable, use a domestic steam cleaner. Take caution when using a steam cleaner with small children present; it can get very hot and be hazardous to active little ones.

baby in tubGetty

How to Clean a Baby Tub
If you've bathed a baby, you know how dirty the water can get after a bath. Both experts agree, tubs should be washed before and after each use. Ellen suggests using an all-natural spray and a microfiber cloth. Distilled vinegar will work well too. "The microfiber will catch and hold the dirt and wipe it right off the tub." For stubborn soap scum, Ellen suggests scrubbing it with plastic netting, such as the kind to package oranges in the grocery store.

It's not a glamorous topic, but it happens: babies poop in tubs. When this occurs, spray distilled white vinegar, followed by hydrogen peroxide to completely disinfect the tub. This dual-spray system was developed by the USDA to disinfect meat without contaminating it with chlorine. "It actually kills more germs than chlorine bleach does," Ellen says.

Homemade Cleaning Recipes

Ready to go super green all around the house? Check out three of Leslie's signature cleaning recipes.

Great Grandma's Laundry Soap
- 2 cups Soap Flakes
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 cup washing soda
- 6-8 drops of essential oil (for scent)

Mix ingredients and store in an airtight container. Use 2 tablespoons for a front-loading washer and 1/2 cup for a top-loading washer.

Daily All-Purpose Cleaner

- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup seltzer water
- 8 drops of tea tree oil
- 1/8 cup hydrogen peroxide

Besides cleaning, this mixture can be used to disinfect surface areas in your home. Hydrogen peroxide eventually turns to water, so make sure to add more each time you use the solution.

Spot Wipes
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1/4 cup club soda
- 8 drops of essential oil (for scent)

Combine ingredients and soak 20 heavy-duty paper towels in the mixture. Squeeze out the excess and store in a plastic sandwich bag. Use to clean spots and spills as needed.

Have a homemade cleaning solution you swear by? Tweet it to us
@DIYLife or post in the comments!

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