Clean / Sanitize / Disinfect: Which Product to Choose and When to Use

Follow these steps to make sanitizing and disinfecting easy.

First – any surface must be visibly clean. Use a detergent and water solution. Then rinse with water.
Second – which product to choose?
• Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – registered products for sanitizing and disinfecting.
• Most bleach products now sold in retail stores are EPA-registered. There is no longer a standard bleach:water ratio or standard length of time a solution must remain in contact with a surface, such as those outlined in the PA Position Statements (July, 2018).

• Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the product label to dilute the EPA-registered product to sanitize or disinfect. The information includes the length of time the solution must remain in contact with the surface to be effective. Federal law requires that an EPA-registered product must be used according to the instructions on its label. Failure to follow the directions on the label can result in stiff penalties. These instructions are also part of the online (updated version) of Caring for Our Children, in Appendix J at 
• Label the bottles that contain dilutions you have made. On the label, label the bottle with contents and the date mixed. If possible, use different colored labels for each type of solution.

Third - when to clean, when to sanitize and when to disinfect?
• Follow the schedule in Appendix K of the online (updated version) of Caring for Our Children for when to clean only, when to sanitize and when to disinfect. Appendix K is at
• The instructions for when to sanitize and when to disinfect from Appendix K are:
Sanitize – to reduce germs on surfaces to levels considered safe by public health experts.
o Clean and sanitize before and after each use: food preparation surfaces and tables, high chair trays and mixed use tables.
o Clean and sanitize after each use: eating utensils and dishes.
Disinfect – to destroy or stop most germs.
o Clean and disinfect after each use: diaper and soiled underwear changing surfaces and potty chairs (if used). Caring for Our Children Standard strongly discourages the use of potty chairs.
o Disinfect sinks and faucets after each hand washing routine related to diapering/toileting when the same sink is also used for other purposes.
o Clean and disinfect at the end of each day: hand washing sinks & faucets, countertops, toilets, diaper pails and floors in diapering & toileting areas.  Reviewed and reaffirmed 7/2021