Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 3: Health Promotion and Protection

3.3 Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting

3.3.0 Cleaning Crib and Other Sleep Surfaces

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 3/20/2023.

Cribs, crib mattresses, cots, mats, and other sleep surfaces (e.g., portable cribs, playyard/pen cradleboards) should have a nonporous, easy-to-wipe surface. Crib surfaces and materials should be cleaned weekly using an appropriate cleaning product with a microfiber cloth or disposable paper towel if the same child use the surfaces and materials each day. If different children use the crib surface and materials each day, they must always be cleaned before another child uses them. The crib surface should be cleaned and disinfected if soiled with body fluids. Allow the crib surface to air dry before the next use. Visible dirt and debris should be vacuumed.1 Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning crib surfaces. See the Comments section below for more resources on cleaning schedules and choosing the right cleaning and disinfecting product.

Infectious diseases spread easily in early care and education programs, since children, staff, and families are all in close contact. Surfaces and objects, including crib surfaces, can carry germs and have spread diseases.2–4 Developing effective cleaning strategies and policies are important steps to reduce the risk of illness in early care and education programs.


Early care and education programs need to write up and follow a routine schedule of cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting for all sleep surfaces and equipment. Refer to CFOC Appendix K: Routine Schedule for Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting.

For more information on choosing a cleaning, sanitizing, or disinfecting product, please refer to CFOC Appendix J: Selection and Use of a Cleaning, Sanitizing, or Disinfecting Product. Appendix J also has important information about the use of bleach products, how to prepare bleach solutions, and health and safety precautions. Never mix bleach with other household cleaners, especially those that have ammonia.

The use of products that have safer (less toxic) chemicals helps reduce health and environmental concerns. Manufacturers may claim that their products are “green,” “natural,” or “earth friendly,” but these claims are often misleading and might not be about a chemical’s safety. Organizations now certify and label products that meet certain health and environmental standards. These certifications can help you find less hazardous cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting products. CFOC Appendix J has more information on Third Party Certifications logos and these safer (less toxic) chemicals. Safer disinfectant choices can be found at Using the least hazardous products available will help protect the health of children, and early care and educationprogram staff and custodial personnel.

Center, Early Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Safe Sleep Practices and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID)/SIDS Risk Reduction Routine Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting Cleaning Individual Bedding Sleeping Equipment and Supplies Cribs
Appendix J: Selection and Use of a Cleaning, Sanitizing or Disinfecting Product
Appendix K: Routine Schedule for Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting
  1. Children’s Environmental Health Network. Crib mattress/nap mat hygiene. Web  site. updated August 18, 2021. Accessed February 1, 2023.

  2. Ibfelt T, Engelund EH, Permin A, Madsen JS, Schultz AC, Andersen LP. Presence of pathogenic bacteria and viruses in the daycare environment. J Environ Health. 2015 Oct;78(3):24-29. PMID: 26591334

  3. Gerba CP, Chaidez C. Detection of pathogenic micro-organisms on children’s hands and toys during play. J Appl Microbiol.2014 Jun;116(6):1668-1675. doi: 10.1111/jam.12473. Epub 2014 Mar 20. PMID: 24524673

  4. Bright KR, Boone SA, Gerba CP. Occurrence of bacteria and viruses on elementary classroom surfaces and the potential role of classroom hygiene in the spread of infectious diseases. J Sch Nurs.2010 Feb;26(1):33-41. doi: 10.1177/1059840509354383. Epub 2009 Nov 10. PMID: 19903773


Content in the STANDARD was modified on 3/20/2023.