Hand swipes a sanitizing wipe across dirty toys to create sparkling clean streak

Our Cleaning And Sanitizing Regimen

Before having a child with cystic fibrosis, I never realized how much attention towards cleaning and sanitization is necessary to keep patients healthy and safe. COVID-19 has normalized hand sanitizing and protection against germs. Prior to the pandemic, we tended to feel odd out in public, meticulously wiping down restaurant tables or grocery carts before use.

Cleaning for her safety

Since having Margo, we have followed a pretty strict cleaning and sanitizing regimen. This was easy when she was a newborn and once she was old enough to walk and follow instructions. The in-between times when she was crawling was tricky. I recall so many moments in public places like airports or the pediatrician waiting room, trying my best to contain her and wanting to cover my eyes if she touched the floor and a chair. We followed her around with hand wipes and sanitizing spray and would make frequent trips to the bathroom to wash her hands with hot soap and water.

Pro tip: a sanitizing spray is much easier to use on a wiggly child than a gel. My personal favorite is Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Organic Hand Sanitizer, both for the scent and the 62% ethyl alcohol.

A big turning point in our cleaning regimen came when Margo was eight months old and cultured pseudomonas two months in a row. We did a 28-day course of inhaled Tobramycin. This was Margo’s first experience with an inhaled medicine through a nebulizer and it was stressful for all of us. 24 minutes of manual PT followed by 15-20 minutes of nebulizer, twice daily for 28 days on a baby. The entire time we had to hold the face mask over her nose and mouth the whole time and she demanded to be held while standing.

Our favorite cleaning products

Needless to say, we were joyful when her next culture came back clear. We immediately ordered a Wabi sterilizer and dryer and began a nightly routine of sterilizing her bottles, pacifiers, toys, sippy cups, spoons— basically anything that would go in her mouth was disinfected regularly. We soak the items in hot soapy water for 10 minutes and then do a full sterilization cycle. It has been almost two years and, fortunately, she has not cultured pseudomonas again since (knock on wood!).

For quick and easy sanitization, we use Kirkland’s Signature Sanitizing Wipes from Costco and Seventh Generation Disinfectant Spray. Both of these products kill pseudomonas. One thing I didn’t know pre-baby and pre-CF is that every sanitizing product lists the specific bacteria it kills on the package, so we always check the label first. We typically wipe down any store-bought items once we arrive home, as well as any library books we check out.

Having a plan

Pre-COVID, we had our on-the-go disinfecting plan down pat. When we eat at restaurants, we wipe down the table, chairs, and menus. On airplanes, we wipe the entire seating area, seatbacks and trays in front of us, the entire window area, and the air conditioner controls. When we check into hotel rooms, we clean every surface from top to bottom with wipes or spray.

Now that Margo is an active three-year-old, she is in regular contact with other kids at daycare, playground equipment, and of course, dirt. She gets messy and has fun, but understands germs and how to properly protect herself against them. She is accustomed to frequently washing her hands throughout the day, using hand sanitizer when necessary, and keeping things out of her mouth that don’t belong. We bathe her every day, and particularly when she gets home from daycare. It sometimes seems like a lot of work, but it puts my mind at ease that we have done as much as we can to protect her.

What cleaning and safety tips do you practice as part of cystic fibrosis care? Share in the comments below!

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