17 answers

Need Info. About Safer Cleaning Products for Kids at School

Last month I attended a play in my first graders classroom. After that the family and friends were invited to stay for lunch. The class eats in the classroom due to small cafeteria size. Before the kids eat their lunch they line up to use hand sanitizer. Yuck! And of course, because they are kids they are pumping out way to much then continue on to eat their lunches, with hands of course. After lunch the teacher goes around with what I imagine (because it smelled as such) is bleach and water, sprays the desks, then the children use really thin paper towels to wipe the desks. Not once did any of the kids (except mine, because I was there) wash with soap and water. Does anyone have any advice on how I can approach the school regarding the toxicity of these chemicals on children and info. on safer and affordable cleaning products? This would be much appreciated.

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So What Happened?™

WOW! Thank you everyone for your responses and advice. I have some work to do here. Honestly, I try not to freak out too much about stuff, but if there is a better way, why not? I will write again later to update. Again, thanks! C.

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Look up the WAC regulations in Washington state on using bleach and hand sanitizer. These are not to be used by children in many situations. I work at a preschool and we are not allowed to put it on children or use bleach around them without cleaning it with water after. Then once you have the info approach the school and tell them that you feel that this is unsafe especially due to allergies. I agree with you these children should be using good old soap and water and the teacher should be doing the cleaning of tables.

I agree - hand sanitizer is pretty gross, but the bleach and water is what we use in a preschool - required by state, with very specific amounts of each to dilute the bleach enough. I don't know that the kids should be wiping, but I guess at ages 7/9 it's not totally inappropriate (if it is the same amount, it is really very little bleach). Why don't they use water and soap to wash hands is my question - I would think that would be better than hand sanitizer.

There are some recipes for "green" cleaners on line - you could look them up and recommend that the teacher use the recipe as part of a lesson - make it, and use it in class...

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You've gotten some really great input, so I won't double-up, except to add that as a former third grade teacher, I did have my students wash their hands before eating in the classroom. One of the big issues with having that many kids wash at the classroom sink is water on the floor. It becomes a safety issue, and that may be why the teacher prefers antibacterial gel.

On another note, besides the chemical exposure to the children, isn't there some concern that over-use of antibacterial products perpetuates the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA? If you do go to the principal or schoolboard, that is a community, global concern that your argument for non-chemical products and hand washing supports. Just another thought. :)

1 mom found this helpful

C., as another resource for you I didn't see listed here. I took a natural cleaning course at our local community center in Vancouver, WA put on by Washington Watershed Stewards
http://www.co.clark.wa.us/water-resources/education/stewa...

In that class we learned a ton about natural cleaning products and how to use them effectively. (Vinegar followed by Hydrogen Peroxide or vice versa is an effective sanitizer - and I use it on my son's highchair, our counters, etc.)

They provided us with a very useful booklet on how to make natural cleaning products for just about every need (we use pure baking soda to scrub the tub he baths in). Perhaps you can contact them and ask for one.

The class was very eye opening. It's amazing the toxins we bring into our home and flush down our drains - not to mention that we inhale while we use them to clean, and so do our kids if they are close by.

Chemicals have their place at times, but I think it's best not on our kids skin and up their noses.

I commend you for wanting to make a difference for our kids. That is how any change starts - with people like you!

Perhaps we should all do a little research on the topic:

According to these articles, hand sanitizers are not safe for children to ingest, even a little. http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=1306615

http://www.germstop.net/articles/hand_hygiene/76h26103757...

http://marloelaine.com/2007/05/24/hand-sanitizers-the-hid...
http://safety.lovetoknow.com/Hand_Sanitizer_Dangers

http://biology.about.com/library/weekly/aa022400a.htm

And a blog with some alternative santizer ideas:
http://www.naturemoms.com/blog/2008/03/19/safe-hand-sanit...

At the very least kids should use according to directions - a very small amount and make sure the gel is completely dried before using hands to eat!

Well, this information should be enough to keep all of us busy! :)

1 mom found this helpful

In our home we clean with vinegar and water. Our kids help with the cleaning and, like you, wanted to find a safer method than chemicals. Vinegar disinfects, cleans and deordorizes....and it's all natural. Once the vinegar drys there is no odor. We even use it with our laundry. To get many more ideas and useage ideas just google cleaning with vinegar and you'll be amazed what you get. You can buy it by 2 gallons at Costco for about $4.00, which is so much safer and cheaper than any bleach product out there.

1 mom found this helpful

A lot of times the teachers just use what thy are given by the parents. I would just talk to the principal about your concerns. I think we use way too much antibacterial stuff anyway. If we don't lay off of it we will not have immune systems. Maybe the teachers can start to request "Green" supplies instead of clorox wipes, etc... Talk to other parents I am sure that there are others that feel the same way.They can talk to the principal too.

I am with Watkins www.WatkinsOnline.com You can see their products there. I took some of the cleaners to my daughters teacher and donated them. Yep, I was out the money, but my daughter is not exposed to junk. You mention looking to move onto something else. Have you thought about a home business. My rep number is 381877 if you would like more info.

C.
I carry a full-line of environmental safe cleaning products. I looked for responses but it turns out that you can not see the responses until after you have already sent your response. Anyway, I commend you for seeking environmentally friendly products because not only are they good for the environment but they are good for you. We already get bombarded by enough contaminants in our daily life. If you are interested in finding out about the products you can contact me. Thanks.

Look up the WAC regulations in Washington state on using bleach and hand sanitizer. These are not to be used by children in many situations. I work at a preschool and we are not allowed to put it on children or use bleach around them without cleaning it with water after. Then once you have the info approach the school and tell them that you feel that this is unsafe especially due to allergies. I agree with you these children should be using good old soap and water and the teacher should be doing the cleaning of tables.

Fortunatly the the bleach solution pre-schools use is a very low concentration. It is the recomendation handed down by the CDC (Center for Disease Control). It may not smell the best, but it is quite safe.
As far as the alcohol gel goes. We all know it is a wonderful line of defense against the spread of pathogens. Even in the hospitals the policies now read that we are to use gel instead of and in place of hand washing. That is wash your hands, and in addition afterwords even apply hand gel. It works that well and it is persistant, it can keep working. Once it is dry however, it cannot be passed onto your sons food and harm him in any way. I realize there has been a lot of speculation about the safty of these gels for kids. ie, what if they lick their hand? But I have spoken with the people at Poisen Control of Washington State, and the say that there is little to no risk with these in those cases. Eye contact and flammability are more concerning. So don't worry about this stuff and focus on your future thrift shop, we're gonna need it! =)
A suggestion though. Simple Green cleanser for the tables.

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