This article was originally published in March 2020. Updated in November 2023.

As parents who dread peak illness season, we're all trying to do a better job disinfecting items and surfaces that get a lot of contact. That goes for baby gear, too.

Of course, cleaning baby gear is important all the time to remove germs, dirt and other soiled materials. But there are so many different kinds of gear, and so many different approaches, how do you know if you’re doing it right? Pediatrician Patricia Garcia, MD, MPH, who directs Connecticut Children’s Healthy Homes program, joins the blog to answer your questions.

How often should I disinfect my baby’s gear?

First, the obvious: If something is visibly soiled or dirty, it needs to be cleaned! 

  • Beyond that, it depends on the item. The more often you use an item, the more often it should be cleaned and disinfected. You should also regularly clean anything that has a high chance of ending up in your baby’s mouth. 
  • For example, teething items or toys should be cleaned a few times a day, or before and after every use.

Is there anything you shouldn’t use to disinfect baby gear?

This is a hard question. Many parents want to use natural cleaning products to avoid chemical exposures, which makes sense. But unfortunately, many natural cleaning products do not contain disinfectant – and disinfectant is what actually kills viruses and bacteria. Baby wipes don’t kill viruses or bacteria, either, because they don’t contain soap, detergent or any type of disinfectant.

Bottom line: The best options for disinfectants are a diluted bleach solution (1/3 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water) or an EPA-registered disinfectant. But if possible, good old soap and water will usually do the trick.

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How can you disinfect the following baby items?

  • Plastic baby toys: Plastic anything is easy. Use soap and water, or a disinfectant solution (see previous question). 
  • Plush toys: Check the label for care instructions. If possible, wash on the gentle cycle in a washing machine and then tumble low in the dryer. 
  • Baby gear made of fabric, like fabric bouncers, car seat inserts, stroller inserts and activity mats: Check the washing instructions (in most cases, they’ll either be noted on the item itself or can easily be looked up on the product website). Most items can be washed on the gentle cycle in the washing machine. 
  • Baby gear made of plastic, like a jumperoo: If it’s small enough to fit in a sink, use soap and water. If it’s warm out, you can even hose it off with soap and water outside. Otherwise, it can be wiped down with a disinfectant solution (see above). You can also wipe off any excesses with a damp cloth or paper towel afterwards. 
  • Baby teething items and pacifiers: Soap and water! If you have a very young infant (under 2 months) you can also consider disinfecting pacifiers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommendations on how to do this, either by boiling them or using a bleach solution. 
  • Stroller handles: Disinfectant wipes are my favorite for this, because they’re convenient. But spraying a disinfectant solution and wiping it off with a paper towel works just as well. 
  • Baby clothes and bedding: Wash these in the washer and dryer just like regular clothing and bedding. While some parents prefer to wash these items separately from the rest of the household laundry, it’s not usually necessary. Of course, if there’s a code brown, you might want to do that bit of laundry separately. 
  • Baby bottles, cups and spoons: Soap and water again! For infants under 2 months, parents can sterilize bottles and nipples daily. The CDC website also has the guidelines on how to do this. Many bottle parts and most cups, spoons and plates can go in the dishwasher; just check the label first. 
  • Breast pump: This depends on the model, so check your instruction manual.


My baby spends a lot of time on the floor. Do I need to disinfect my floors and rugs?

  • Definitely! This is especially important if you have pets or people trafficking into and out of the house, or if it’s an older home that may contain lead paint. All dust, dirt and other items settle to the floor – including where your baby is playing (and where all their toys are, too).
  • Make it a daily habit to clean the areas where your baby plays. This doesn’t mean you have to clean every inch of your home’s floor: Having a baby is hard work, so it’s important to focus your energy on high-yield areas. That may be just the kitchen and a rug in the living room.