From classroom keyboards to water faucet handles, bacteria find plenty of places in your child’s school to call home – including lunchboxes and reusable water bottles. Here are precautions to keep your child healthy this school year.

Clean Lunchboxes and Water Bottles

Results from lunchboxes tested in an NSF household germ study revealed yeast and mold were found in 23% of lunchboxes, Staph in 9% and coliform in 9%. NSF International’s scientific research has also shown that areas such as reusable water bottles not washed daily can harbor mold and bacteria.

While doing your back-to-school shopping you might want to consider purchasing several water bottles and encourage your child to bring them home regularly for proper cleaning. A tablespoon of vinegar per one cup of hot water can be used as is a simple cleaning solution. To disinfect and sanitize, use 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water, soak for one minute, rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry.. Take the bottle lid pieces apart for cleaning, and don’t forget the water bottle’s grooves, gaskets and straws.

Wash Hands

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found germs in surprising places in schools, including water fountain spigots and cafeteria trays. These bacteria and viruses can live for more than two days on many surfaces, so it’s important to follow proper and frequent handwashing guidelines. Thoroughly scrub hands under warm water with soap for a full 20 seconds (or tell children to count to 10 twice) before rinsing and drying with a clean towel.

When sanitizer is used in the classroom, the most important thing to remember is that sanitizing hands does not replace good handwashing. It can be effective in preventing the spread of germs only when used properly so follow the directions and use carefully.

Cover Coughs and Sneezes

One simple technique to remind your student about is how to cough and sneeze into their elbows or upper arms to fully cover their mouths. This helps prevent the airborne spread of germs. Following a sneeze or cough, remind them to also thoroughly wash their hands even after this important safeguard.

For more fun, visit our Scrub Club, where parents and teachers can download posters, activity sheets and other resources for free.