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    24 Cleaning Tips Parents Will Wish They'd Known About Sooner

    Because you can't assign a robot vacuum to stalk each kid. Well, maybe you could. But that isn't the most cost-efficient.

    We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI β€” prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

    1. First, ~safely~ store your cleaning supplies so kids can't get into the potentially harmful chemicals.

    reviewer's pic of a toddler unable to get into a cabinet thanks to door locks
    amazon.com

    We've all heard it many times, but it's worth driving the point home. All-purpose cleaners, bleach, and many of the usual suspects in household cleaning arsenals can be harmful when ingested. The CDC recommends storing all medicines and household cleaners up and out of sight and storing them immediately, so as not to tempt kids. Designate a place to store the cleaning materials and make it hard for little hands to access.

    Get a set of two cabinet latches (that you can also use on fridges, toilets, etc.) from Amazon for $7.99.

    2. Toddler-proof your floor coverings by investing in a washable Ruggable rug that's better at handling spills and stains.

    area rug in living room with corner peeled back to see mat
    Amazon

    So a grape juice spill won't induce a panic attack. I have a lot of friends who swear by these, including some with dogs (which, arguably, are messier than most kids).

    Promising review: "For a house full of three dogs~ this was hands down the best purchase we have ever made! Our first Ruggable, but not our last. Highly impressed!! Our dogs love it as much as we do!! It looks like a very high quality product!! Easy to use and clean!! Highly recommend!!" β€”Amazon Customer

    Get it from Amazon for $119.99+ (available in three sizes) and check out more Ruggable rugs.Β 

    3. Clean their backpacks β€” aka their mobile bacteria hubs β€” on the reg.

    amazon.com, Amazon

    Heard about how nasty purses can get? Same for backpacks. A bag's fabric should determine the cleaning method. Check its label and go from there, but chances are a warm, soapy cloth will make a big difference.

    This backpack is available on Amazon for $25.98 each (available in three color combos).

    4. Speaking of mobile germ catchers, give your phone and tablets regular wipe downs with alcohol sanitizing cloths, especially before you pass them off to the tot to keep them quiet at a restaurant.

    Amazon

    Several reviewers say they use them every day. It isn't a bad idea to keep some in your bag so you can wipe them down while the kid's eating and watching toons.

    Get a pack of 210 individually packaged wipes for $13.55.

    5. Designate a mudroom area so that they won't track icky stuff into the house.

    Amazon

    A University of Arizona study by shoe company Rockport found traces of bacteria like E.coli that was attributed to contact with fecal matter on shoes. Ick.

    This shoe storage bench is available on Amazon for $142.62+Β (available in four finishes).

    And if your fave sneakers have gotten extra icky, check out our top picks for the best everyday sneakers.

    6. Add a doormat to both the inside and outside of your entry doors...that way you can stop more dirt from entering your home and easily switch the welcome wagon when you feel like it.

    Amazon, amazon.com

    Get them from Amazon: mix tape for $12.99 and "Go Away" for $19.95.

    7. Clean those car seats! One study found they typically harbor TWICE as many germs as a toilet seat.

    reviewer pic of a kid in a car seat
    amazon.com

    The folks at the Good Housekeeping Institute recommend referring to the manufacturer label and wiping down with warm, soapy water. Using cleaning materials like bleach or other chemicals to disinfect can compromise the safety of the seat's restraints.

    This car seat is available on Amazon for $76.49Β (available in six color combos).

    8. Clean up seat-ruining messes with an upholstery cleaner that'll undo whatever it is your kids are doing to your backseats.

    A customer review before and after picture of their car seat
    amazon.com

    Promising review: "I have kids (8 and 3 years old). They have destroyed my back seat. Spilled chocolate milk, vomit, melted chocolate, dropped fries, dropped ice cream, spilled Gatorade β€” you name it, it has been spilled in my back seat. I was to the point of accepting my backseat would forever be a disgusting wasteland. Then I stumbled upon this product and y'all...Y'ALL IT WORKS! I almost cried when I sprayed it on, ran a detail brush over it, wiped it away with the cloth, and the stains were GONE. No scrubbing for 30 minutes. No 'leave to set for 15 minutes.' No carpet cleaner required. Just spray, scrub, wipe, and it takes everything off. I am now cleaning EVERYTHING with this stuff. It is AMAZING! An absolute MUST for any parent. 100% will buy again." β€”Rachel

    Get it from Amazon for $16.99.

    9. And guard the back of your seats with protective kick mats because no matter how many times you say "Stop kicking!" your kids keep on doing it like it's their job. It'll be much easier to clean dirt and grime off the mats instead of your seats.

    reviewer's car with the kicking protector on the back of the car seat
    amazon.com

    Promising review: "Absolutely love these!! I bought a Forester a couple of weeks ago and was freaking out about the light-colored cloth interior with a toddler and infant in the back seat. They fit wonderfully! Top and bottom buckle straps are both adjustable. The bottom strap is elastic, so if it doesn't fully tuck into your seats, it will stretch out of your way when you sit in the seat and is stretchy enough that it doesn't bother the driver or passenger's back/butt area. Have not had to clean it yet, but it's material similar to my travel changing pad which wipes clean super easily!" β€”Sarah M

    Get two from Amazon for $15.97.

    10. Wipe a pacifier or toy that fell on the ground with your shirt instead of cleaning it with your mouth.

    baby holding a pacifier that has a dog stuffed animal attached to it
    Amazon

    Eep. A medical epidemiologist at the CDC told Parenting.com that a shirt will remove some of the germs. But absolutely don't clean it with your mouth and then stick it in your kid's mouth because grown-up mouths have bacteria in them that kid mouths can't handle yet. Keep a spare β€” along with a clip β€” to avoid fallen pacifiers when possible.

    This pacifier is available on Amazon for $17.95.

    11. If kids want to "help" clean, start them off with matching socks.

    various kid's socks with cartoon animals on them
    Amazon

    It's an easy task that won't end up in a messy disaster. Yay chores!

    Get a 12-pack of these socks from Amazon for $12.99+Β (available in two assortments, four sizes).

    12. Sanitize a sippy cup with white distilled vinegar, a bowl, and hot water.

    small child drinking out of a sippy cup on a playground
    Amazon

    Get out that sour milk smell and feel better about letting your kid drag it around everywhere with a simple overnight soak. Read the deets on Mom Envy here.

    This sippy cup is available on Amazon for $9.95.

    13. Always make your kids wash their hands before eating meals. And really, well, OFTEN before other stuff too. If you need some motivation a hand soap with a cute label or a pump that deposits a foamy paw print might help.

    Amazon

    Teach them to count for 20 seconds, or just sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice. (That works on adults, too. I've been especially good about singing that in my head bc COVID-19.) Also, a little motivation with a cute soap pump that spells it out for them never hurt the chances of them actually following through on your directions.

    Get them from Amazon: six-pack of aquarium label soap for $5.88 or the paw-dispensing soap for $18 (also available with soap refills)

    14. And keep disposable soap sheets handy in case you're out in a public bathroom without soap (ick). The cute bear carrying case might just encourage some hand washing too.

    row of bear shaped carrying cases for small soap sheets
    Amazon

    I have a similar set of soap sheets that I try to keep in my purse at all times. They're great!

    Get 6 boxes with 300 total sheets from Amazon for $10.99.

    15. Loosen stuck-on debris from a high chair by spraying it with a white vinegar-and-dish soap solution and plastic putty knife.

    amazon.com, Amazon

    Or, just buy one that comes apart for washing in the dishwasher and washing machine.

    This one is available on Amazon for $79.99.

    Get at tough stuck-on messes with our top picks for the best kitchen sponges. (I'm personally obsessed with the Scrub Daddy sponges and I don't even have a dishwasher. So I put them to use often.)

    16. Throw hard plastic toys β€” especially Legos β€” in a mesh laundry bag and then in the dishwasher to sanitize them.

    various sized mesh laundry bags
    Amazon

    This only goes for toys that don't include electrical parts or batteries. And make sure to zip up the laundry bag so the toys will stay contained. Check out some reviews about using them to wash LEGOs and various toys at a daycare.

    Get this five-pack from Amazon for $7.99.

    17. Hand wash soft plastic and rubber toys. And spot treat plush toys.

    amazon.com, amazon.com

    Aim to clean toys at least once a week. As always, consult the manufacturer's label for cleaning instructions. Though, you can most likely hand wash soft and rubber toys with soapy water, at least spot treat plush toys with baby safe laundry detergent and water, and wipe down wooden toys with equal parts vinegar and water.

    This food-grade ball is available on Amazon for $20.99 and this bear is available on Amazon for $10+ (available in three sizes).

    18. Deal with a soiled mattress the right way.

    Amazon

    The good news is that it takes stuff you already have. Get the full how-to from a Overstock here.

    This crib mattress and waterproof cover is available on Overstock for $71.99.

    19. Erase crayon marks from walls and other surfaces with WD-40.

    Amazon

    Simply spray some directly on the crayon marks, then wipe with a clean rag. You won't even have to repaint the area!

    Get two bottles from Amazon for $19.99.

    20. And conquer other stains with Grandma's Secret, an under-the-radar solution with serious stain-removing prowess, a chance on messes and stains that make you do some β€” like, cleaning pen from a white leather couch.

    amazon.com

    It can remove oil, grease, ink, grass, and blood stains for all my vampires out there. I recommended this to a friend who fell in a puddle of motor oil on a sidewalk and then accidentally wiped it on her camel coat. It got the stains out! And THEN a few months after that some black dye from a blazer transferred to a white blazer she ordered as part of the same clothing order during shipping, and she was able to get the black dye out of the white blazer! Yep, this stuff is legit.

    Promising review: "I love this stuff! I stumbled upon it years ago at my local quilt shop of all places. It does exactly what it says it will do: It takes out any stain you throw at it. I was most impressed by how it takes out blood; I had an 'accident' in the middle of the night wearing light-pink PJs. I had just gotten the PJs from a friend for my birthday and was devastated at the thought of them being ruined. Before washing them (and risking the stain setting), I dabbed a few drops of the spot removal on the spot, scrubbed the stain with an old toothbrush, and left it sitting for about a half hour. I did that twice. To say it did a good job on the spot is an understatement; you couldn't even tell there was a spot to begin with! I call it the little magic in a bottle β€” it's a lifesaver! You must buy it. Don't wait." β€”Stiixgirl

    Get it from Amazon for $9.99.

    21. Wash potty-training underwear that's soiled from an accident in a freshly flushed toilet.

    various tidy whities
    Amazon

    So you won't have to worry about dirtying the rest of a load of laundry.

    Get this four-pack of training pants from Amazon for $9.99+Β (available in five combos).

    22. Leave blowout cloth diapers out in the sun to help remove stains.

    cloth diapers
    Amazon

    The sun naturally bleaches fabric, so you'll end up using way less stain remover.

    Get a five-pack of organic cotton cloth diapers from Amazon for $11.91.

    23. Avoid mold-prone toys and follow a toy manufacturer's directions for cleaning.

    kid playing with a set of egg stacking toys
    AMazon

    It feels like hardly a month passes by without news breaking of a toy recall. Stay vigilant by cleaning toys and check for weird smells, (which is what can tip off toy recalls).

    This set of hide and squeak eggs is available on Amazon for $19.95.

    24. And clean up the soles of kids' shoes with a Magic Eraser.

    Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed

    Keep 'em looking new without actually paying for a new pair. These are my beloved white Supergas I've more or less worn to death since 2020. I have a dedicated "shoe" Magic Eraser in my cleaning supplies and often take a few minutes to clean up dark marks on the soles before slipping 'em on to head out the door. I've used the Erasers like this for YEARS and they've definitely helped me make shoes last much MUCH longer. Now if I could just use them on canvas or fabric....

    Get a pack of 10 erasers from Amazon for $11.99.

    Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.