How to Safely Clean and Sanitize Baby Changing Stations

Karen Lawes

Written by: Karen Lawes Maguire

Karen is the founder and CEO of, a leading cleaning industry website. With 10+ years experience, she's an expert on new cleaning technologies, regulations, and best practices.

Keeping baby changing stations properly cleaned and sanitized is crucial for preventing the spread of germs and illnesses among infants.

Diaper changing areas can harbor bacteria like E.coli, Salmonella, and more if not disinfected routinely.

The Personal Costs: Cautionary Tales of Unsanitized Changing Areas

Here are some real life examples of babies getting sick from an unclean changing station:

"Last month, we had to take our 8-month-old daughter Lily to the ER with a raging fever and diarrhea that just wouldn't let up. The doctors said it was likely rotavirus, which is so contagious amongst babies. We were wracking our brains about where she could have picked it up, until I remembered using a disturbingly soiled changing station at the mall a few days prior. The sticky streaks on the pad and visibly crusty railings made my skin crawl, but I thought just laying down a changing pad cover would be enough. Clearly, I was dead wrong - Lily must have ingested some lingering germs and it landed her in the hospital. I'll never make that mistake again of using an improperly sanitized station, no matter how rushed or inconvenient it seems."
"Our triplets started daycare last fall, and within three weeks little Michael came down with a nasty case of impetigo - those oozy, crusty rashes all over his body. His pediatrician said impetigo often starts from a tiny scratch that gets infected, which made me think back to all the times he got scrapes and cuts from wiggling around during diaper changes. I realized the changing tables were never properly disinfected between kids, just quickly wiped down. All it could have taken was one other baby's open sore leaving staph or strep behind. We didn't have any more issues once I insisted the facility start using a bleach solution between each diaper change. It was a hard lesson in why cutting corners is gambling with babies' health."
"My friends told me horror stories of their kids catching illnesses from gross changing tables, but I naively thought 'it won't happen to us.' Then poor Ethan went through three bouts of hand-foot-mouth last year, which is very uncommon for the same viral infection to recur like that. Each time, we had been to a new mother's room or different daycare shortly before the acutely painful mouth sores and rashes started up again. I can't help but point the finger at the lack of attention to sanitizing those baby changing areas as the culprit allowing those viruses to be transmitted, over and over. You can be sure that now, if I ever spot a changing station that seems less than pristine, Ethan and I are leaving immediately."
Hopefully, these cringe-worthy first-person examples drive home the importance of properly cleaning and sanitizing changing stations or hiring a daycare cleaning service to avoid facilitating the very infections and illnesses we're trying to prevent.


Before you begin, gather all the necessary supplies and tools:

  • EPA-approved disinfectant spray or wipes suitable for nurseries - Look for products that are designed for childcare facilities and infant spaces. Stay away from anything with harsh chemicals or fragrances.
  • Clean rags or paper towels - Have lots of clean, absorbent cloths or disposable paper towels on hand for wiping down surfaces.
  • Sanitizing solution approved for food contact surfaces - After disinfecting, you'll need a sanitizing solution that is safe for areas that come into contact with food or skin. Look for EPA-approved "no-rinse" sanitizers.
  • Disposable gloves - Wear fresh gloves during cleaning to avoid spreading germs. Have many pairs available.

Put on a fresh pair of disposable gloves before handling any cleaning products or touching dirty surfaces.

Cleaning Baby Chaning Stations

Step 1: Remove Debris

First, remove any visible soiled materials from the changing station with paper towels. Use disposable paper towels to wipe away any:

  • Diapers
  • Dirty wipes
  • Spilled creams, ointments or powders

Properly dispose of any diapers, wipes, or other soiled items in a sealed trash bin lined with a leak-proof plastic bag. This will contain odors and prevent further contamination.

Do not try to disinfect surfaces with solid waste still present.

Having disposable paper towels on hand allows you to easily pick up and discard debris from the changing station without spreading it to cleaning cloths or sponges that could cross-contaminate other surfaces.

Take care not to aggressively scrape or scrub the changing station surface, which could damage the material or spread debris.

The goal in this step is simply to remove the bulk of the soiling gently but completely.

Step 2: Disinfect

Once the debris has been removed, the next crucial step is to thoroughly disinfect the entire changing station surface and surrounding areas.

Use an EPA-approved disinfectant solution or disinfecting wipes that are specifically designed for use in nurseries and childcare facilities. Many disinfectants made for general household use contain harsh chemicals that are not suitable for areas where infants are present.

Carefully read and follow all instructions on the product label. This includes guidance on:

Pay close attention to disinfecting all high-touch areas like safety railings, buckles, raised edges, corners, and any crevices or creases where bodily fluids could collect. These areas tend to harbor more germs and require diligent disinfecting.

Step 3: Sanitize

Sanitizing provides an extra level of protection by further reducing the number of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms present.

For sanitizing baby changing stations, you'll want to use a sanitizing solution that is safe for food contact surfaces. Look for an EPA-registered "no-rinse" sanitizer product that is fragrance-free and contains no harsh chemicals.

Some good sanitizing options for nurseries include:

As with disinfectants, carefully read and follow the manufacturer's instructions when preparing and using sanitizing solutions. This includes guidance on dilution ratios, contact times, whether to rinse after use, etc.

To sanitize, simply spray or wipe the sanitizing solution onto the entire changing station surface after it has been disinfected. Make sure to cover all areas, getting into corners, creases and high-touch spots.

One key difference from the disinfecting step - allow the sanitizing solution to fully air dry on surfaces. Do not wipe it off. The sanitizer needs to remain and be allowed to properly dry to maximize germ reduction.

According to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services,

"One of the most commonly used and most effective sanitizing solutions is a homemade mixture of household bleach and water...Because bleach is inexpensive, readily available, and so effective, it's the best choice for a sanitizing solution."

Step 4: Remove Gloves & Wash Hands

It's crucial to properly remove your disposable gloves and thoroughly wash your hands to prevent any cross-contamination.

To remove disposable gloves safely:

  1. Grasp the outside of one glove at the wrist area, being careful not to touch bare skin.
  2. Peel the glove away from your body, pulling it inside out.
  3. Hold the removed glove in your still-gloved hand.
  4. Slide your fingers under the wrist of the remaining glove, being careful to avoid touching the outside of the glove directly.
  5. Peel off the second glove by pulling it inside out, allowing the first glove to become encapsulated inside the second glove.
  6. Properly dispose of the gloves in a lined trash bin.

Once gloves are removed, immediately wash your hands with soap and warm water, lathering thoroughly on both the palms and backs of your hands:

  • Rub hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds, scrubbing between fingers, under nails and up around wrists.
  • Rinse all soap off completely under clean, running water.
  • Dry hands with a clean paper towel or air dryer.

Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illnesses and infections.


Changing stations should be cleaned and sanitized after each use to maintain a hygienic space. It's also recommended to do a deeper cleaning and sanitization on a daily or weekly basis as part of your facility's general cleaning schedule.

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