How To Disinfect Your Home When Kids Go Back To School

As a germaphobe, I discuss the best ways to disinfect your home from Covid-19 and other viruses. Once the kids walk through the door after school, there are steps you need to take to keep germs out of your house. I’ve got details on exactly what to do to make sure your home is germ-free without exposing your family to toxic chemicals.

Non-Toxic Disinfectants

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Although we’re in the midst of a pandemic, back-to-school is still happening. There will be lunchboxes to pack and backpacks to lug around. Let’s face it – we want our kids to be as safe and germ-free as possible, and we don’t want them bringing germs into our homes (like SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19).

The EPA has a fairly long list of disinfectants for use against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but some of these, like quaternary ammonium compounds, cause symptoms such as respiratory distress and skin irritation, among other health concerns. My goal is to disinfect with products that won’t cause harm to my family’s health.

Being a germaphobe, I’ve come up with a game plan for what after-school disinfecting will look like in our house (without using chemicals that are harmful to the health of my family), and thought I’d share some of my best disinfecting tips.

STOCK UP

I recommend keeping a well-stocked supply of the following at home:

  • Extra face masks (organic cotton or hemp masks if possible)
  • Hand sanitizer (free from synthetic fragrance, phthalates and parabens)
  • Hand soap (free from synthetic fragrance, phthalates and parabens)
  • Small canvas zip pouches for storing masks and hand sanitizer
  • Extra set of school supplies- a “clean” set for home and one for school- like pens, pencils, notebooks, calculator

BEFORE YOUR KIDS HEAD TO SCHOOL EVERY MORNING

Make sure your child has these things in their backpack before leaving the house:

  • Supply at least one extra face mask in your child’s backpack (this only applies to children over 2 years old). You never know when they’ll need a fresh mask throughout the day. Put a few extra face masks in a small canvas zipper bag labelled CLEAN MASKS and toss this in your child’s backpack – let them know it’s there. Have a canvas bag labelled DIRTY MASKS so they can put dirty used masks in this bag if needed.
  • In a separate canvas zip bag, stash a bottle or two of hand sanitizer. Here’s what I look for in a hand sanitizer: free of synthetic fragrance, parabens and phthalates and containing 70% ethanol or ethyl alcohol (the CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol).

Shoes and backpack by door

AFTER SCHOOL

  • Have your kids take their shoes off and leave them right by the door. You can read more about why leaving shoes at the door is essential for a healthy home.
  • All backpacks, lunchboxes and any other bags should be left by the door too.
  • Have your kids wash their hands at the nearest sink. Hands should be washed with soap for at least 20 seconds. The CDC has a guide on the proper way to wash your hands.
  • If kids need specific notebooks from their backpacks, wipe the outside of each notebook down with Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes. Or make your own wipes with Force of Nature disinfecting solution. You can use either clean washcloths or paper towels soaked in a Force of Nature solution. Read more about Force of Nature and why I love it in the Cleaning Versus Disinfecting section of this post.
  • Disinfect phones and tablets. I love the PhoneSoap 3 UV Smartphone Sanitizer, which takes 10 minutes per phone to sanitize (my daughter stepped on ours and they paid for shipping and fixed it at no charge). It uses UVC light to sanitize. Alternatively, wipe each phone or tablet with a disinfecting wipe or 70% alcohol solution. Remove the case and clean it, as well as the actual phone, including the buttons and screen.
  • Store an extra set of school supplies at home and have your kids use the extra “clean” supplies instead of reaching in their backpack for dirty stuff like pencils and calculators.
  • Keep an air purifier near their homework station and run the air purifier at all times.

EXTRA STEPS FOR CLEANING AND SANITIZING

  • Spray backpacks and soft-sided lunchboxes with Force Of Nature spray and leave on for at least 10 minutes.
  • Wash all used masks in the clothes washer on the recommended setting. If necessary, wash backpacks too. Read more about why to use natural laundry detergent here.
  • All water bottles, food storage containers and bentos should be washed in the dishwasher every day. Want some non-toxic lunch gear recommendations? Visit my non-toxic lunch gear post.
  • Sanitize school pencils, pens, rulers, etc. with disinfecting wipes, or put them in a EVLA UV Light Sanitizer for the directed amount of time. This unit utilizes UVC-254 nm light for sterilization.
  • Wipe down any surface that the kids touched right when they came home from school (before washing their hands). Use Force of Nature or disinfectant wipes: Go out to the car and wipe down door handles. In the entryway, wipe down doorknobs, light switches, faucet handles, toilet seats and flushers, cabinet pulls, etc. This includes all the stuff that may have been touched before washing hands.
  • Spray the floor around where shoes are removed (the entryway) with Force of Nature spray and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Shoes can be sprayed too if you want to thoroughly disinfect.
Force of Nature Disinfectant

CLEAN VERSUS DISINFECT – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Cleaning and disinfecting are two very different things.

Researchers have found that the novel coronavirus can live on surfaces such as cardboard for 24 hours, and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. It’s best to stay on top of disinfecting every day, especially as your kids head back to school and bring home germs on a daily basis. Below are some EPA Approved disinfectants that don’t contain harmful, toxic ingredients (keep these out of reach of young children and do not ingest):

  • Force of NatureForce of Nature is on EPA’s List of Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19. This is my favorite disinfectant, and I highly recommend it! It disinfects & sanitizes with no toxic chemicals and is kid and pet friendly. Force of Nature is a broad-spectrum disinfectant and sanitizer that’s EPA registered for use in hospitals, ICUs, daycares, schools, veterinary clinics, gyms, restaurants & more. It kills 99.9% of germs: Staph, MRSA, Norovirus, Influenza A, Salmonella, and Listeria. How does it work? Salt, water and vinegar are converted to electrolyzed water when an electrical current changes the chemical composition of the solution into two new ingredients. The Force of Nature Starter Kit contains: Electrolyzer with power cord (compatible with any household electrical outlet), Spray Bottle (12 oz), 5 Activator Capsules (each makes enough multi-purpose cleaner, disinfectant & deodorizer to last 2 weeks). Just add your own water right from the tap. Use promo code SAFER25 for 25% off + Free Shipping on Starter Kits & Value Bundles.
  • Seventh Generation Disinfecting WipesSeventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes (Lemongrass Citrus) can be used against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, following the use directions on the product label.
  • 70% ethanol or ethyl alcohol is effective on hard surfaces with a contact time of at least 30 seconds. Use this on most surfaces and disinfect smartphones, keyboards and tablets.
  • Spray 3% Hydrogen peroxide on a surface and let sit for 3-5 minutes. Hydrogen peroxide can bleach fabric and painted surfaces, so use with caution.

Back to school disinfecting plan

second image via depositphotos