Washing dishes and mouthed toys

Washing dishes requires more diligence in a group child care setting than doing dishes at home because of the risk of sharing germs across multiple families.

Clean and sanitize all eating and drinking utensils, tableware, and kitchenware after they’re used. Even if you only use a spoon once, you should wash it before using it again.

Using a Dishwashing Machine

The easiest way to wash dishes and mouthed toys is with a dishwashing machine. In order to effectively sanitize dishes, the machine should incorporate a chemical or heat sanitizing process.

Washing Dishes by Hand

Washing dishes by hand is more complicated in a group child care setting than at home.

You’ll need three different basins:

  • One for washing
  • One for rinsing
  • One for sanitizing

Instead of a sponge, use a cloth that can be laundered. The structure of natural and artificial sponges provides an environment in which germs thrive.


  1. Scrape off any leftover food.
  2. Use the first compartment to wash the dishes and toys thoroughly in hot water containing a detergent solution.
  3. Rinse in the second compartment.
  4. Use the third compartment to sanitize the dishes and toys by one of these methods:
    • The safest and easiest method is to immerse the dishes and toys for at least two minutes in a lukewarm — not less than 24 degrees C (75 degrees F) — bleach solution made up of at least 100 parts per million bleach. Make the solution by mixing 7 milliliters of household bleach per 4 liters of water (1½ teaspoons bleach per gallon water). Then air dry the sanitized items.
    • Immerse the dishes and toys for at least 30 seconds in water heated to 77 degrees C (170 degrees F). The water temperature should be maintained at that temperature throughout the sanitizing process. A hot water booster is usually required to heat water to a high enough temperature. To avoid burning the skin while immersing dishes and utensils in this hot water bath, use special racks designed for this purpose. Then air dry the items. Because it requires very hot water, this method is less safe than the bleach sanitizing method.