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

Because you can't follow them around with a can of disinfecting spray 24/7. The products in this post were updated in April 2018.

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

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.
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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 an outdoor rug that's better at handling spills and stains.

amazon.com, amazon.com

So a grape juice spill won't induce a panic attack.

Get them from Amazon for $56.47+ (two sizes) and $55.77+ (six sizes, eight colors).

3. Clean their backpacks — aka their mobile bacteria hubs — on the reg.

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Remember 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 sanitizing cloths, especially before you pass them off to the tot to keep them quiet at a restaurant.

Always use an alcohol wipe every few days, but 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 two-pack of electronic wipes from Amazon for $8.92.
amazon.com

Always use an alcohol wipe every few days, but 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 two-pack of electronic wipes from Amazon for $8.92.

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

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 $134.02+. / Available in three finishes.And if your fave sneakers have gotten extra icky, check out our top picks for the best everyday sneakers on BuzzFeed Reviews.
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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 $134.02+. / Available in three finishes.

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

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 easily switch the welcome wagon when you feel like it.

amazon.com, amazon.com

Get them from Amazon: mix tape for $11.99 and "Go Away" for $17.95.

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

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 $32.99+. / Available in six color combos.
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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 $32.99+. / Available in six color combos.

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

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 -- along with a clip -- to avoid fallen pacifiers when possible. This pacifier is available on Amazon for $14.95.
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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 -- along with a clip -- to avoid fallen pacifiers when possible.

This pacifier is available on Amazon for $14.95.

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

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+. / Available in two assortments, four sizes.
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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+. / Available in two assortments, four sizes.

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

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.
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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.

11. Always make your kids wash their hands before eating meals.

Teach them to count for 20 seconds, or just sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice. (That works on adults, too.) 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 a four-pack from Amazon for $13.99.
amazon.com

Teach them to count for 20 seconds, or just sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice. (That works on adults, too.) 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 a four-pack from Amazon for $13.99.

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

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

This one is available on Amazon for $72.53. / Available in two colors.

Get at tough stuck-on messes with our top picks for the best kitchen sponges on BuzzFeed Reviews.

13. Throw hard plastic toys — especially Legos — in a mesh laundry bag and then in the dishwasher to sanitize them.

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. Get this five-pack from Amazon for $9.89.
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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.

Get this five-pack from Amazon for $9.89.

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

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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 $18.99 and this bear is available on Amazon for $9.99+.

15. Deal with a soiled mattress the right way.

The good news is that it takes stuff you already have: paper towels, 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. Get the full how-to from a pediatrician on Fisher-Price here.This crib mattress is available on Amazon for $53.71.
amazon.com

The good news is that it takes stuff you already have: paper towels, 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. Get the full how-to from a pediatrician on Fisher-Price here.

This crib mattress is available on Amazon for $53.71.

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

Simply spray some directly on the crayon marks, then wipe with a clean rag. You won't even have to repaint the area!Get a two-pack from Amazon for $10.88.
amazon.com

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

Get a two-pack from Amazon for $10.88.

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

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 $11.99+. / Available in three sizes.
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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 $11.99+. / Available in three sizes.

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

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 $14.99.
amazon.com

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 $14.99.

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

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 tipped off a mold-based recent recall).This set of hide and squeak eggs is available on Amazon for $12.42.
amazon.com

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 tipped off a mold-based recent recall).

This set of hide and squeak eggs is available on Amazon for $12.42.

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

Keep 'em looking new without actually paying for a new pair.Get them from Amazon: eight-pack of Magic Erasers for $6.94 and kids' adidas sneaker for $25+.
amazon.com / amazon.com

Keep 'em looking new without actually paying for a new pair.

Get them from Amazon: eight-pack of Magic Erasers for $6.94 and kids' adidas sneaker for $25+.

21. Shopping for something specific? Check out BuzzFeed Reviews to find the best things for every budget!