Outdoor playgrounds are everywhere. You will notice them at schools, fast food restaurants, public parks, daycare centers, and in private homes. In fact, there is a high probability that you have converted your backyard space into an outdoor playground.
It is true that many kids love playgrounds since it is a source of fun, enjoyment, and an excellent place to learn many things about life. For parents/guardians, having an outdoor playground is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to occupy your little ones.
However, keeping an outdoor playground clean isn’t an easy job. The high-traffic areas on outdoor playgrounds such as baby swings, rock walls, and swing sets serve as breeding sites for millions of bacteria and germs. Without proper cleaning, these surfaces pose a significant health risk to your little ones.
Typically, when setting up an outdoor playground, it is always good to allocate some funds for cleaning and waste management. That way, you can always be sure your kids are safe.
In this post, we discuss some of the things you can do to keep your outdoor playground clean. Keep reading to learn more.
Why Do You Need to Keep Your Outdoor Playground Clean?
As mentioned above, high-traffic areas are a breeding site for millions of bacteria and germs. The statistics are pretty easy to find. A simple online search will reveal a lot of information about the millions of germs and bacteria you will most likely find on a playground.
This information alone will make you start thinking about some of the things you can do to keep your little ones safe.
Outdoor playgrounds, especially in daycare centers and public parks, are often referred to as “Petri dish” due to their ability to spread many different types of bacteria. Part of the problem is that children are not so good at doing the little things that may help prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.
While adults are more likely to wash their hands regularly and avoid touching certain surfaces, children won’t do it. They are less concerned about their safety because they know someone is always watching over them.
It means that playground owners must do everything possible to keep the play spaces as clean as possible.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the common germs you will most likely find on high-touch surfaces at a playground include Klebsiella Pneumonia, E. coli, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus aureus for the skin.
Without proper cleaning, these microorganisms can multiply pretty quickly and pose a significant health risk to your loved ones. And these pathogens are not just found on large play structures such as slides and swing sets. Many of the smaller toys can also harbor bacteria and germs.
Ideally, all outdoor playgrounds must be cleaned frequently and high-touch areas sanitized to eliminate the microorganisms. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Keeping Your Outdoor Playground Clean
So, what can you do to ensure your outdoor playground is always clean and safe for play? Here are some quick tips to help you get started.
1. Provide Litter Boxes
One of the easiest ways of keeping your playground clean is to provide litter boxes at strategic points. It is much easier to keep the entire site clean if there are plenty of litter boxes that people can use to dispose of dirt.
Once you have installed trash bins at strategic points, post a sign reminding people to use the litter boxes and tidy up. If you make it easier to keep things tidy, you will not have a lot of work to do when it comes to cleaning.
You should also have a designated snack area where children are allowed to enjoy their snacks and drinks. Don’t allow them to eat or drink while on the play equipment because it will only lead to messes. Some food spills are sticky and hard to clean.
By creating a separate snack area, you can easily maintain a food-free play area, maintain your equipment, and keep your playground clean most of the time.
2. Clean High-Touch Surfaces Regularly
An outdoor playground may have several high-touch surfaces that require regular cleaning. You can always schedule to clean such areas two or three times a day.
Start by using regular soap and water to get rid of dirt and anything sticky. For plastic-feeling and coated metal materials, carefully wipe down the dirt with a slightly damp piece of cloth and mild detergent. This process shouldn’t consume much of your time.
From there, you can use relatively soft brushes to eliminate the tough stains or dirt on plastic parts. Make sure you get into the crevices and clean everything to the best of your ability. Avoid using paper towels on any surface that may scratch, such as windows and domes.
You should also avoid using any abrasive scrubbers unless the manufacturer’s instructions say that the cleaning method is safe. You don’t want to be left counting losses after a simple cleaning exercise.
3. Learn How to Manage Pet Waste
One of the biggest problems that playground owners face is how to manage pet waste. Typically, kids and their parents/caregivers will tag along with their pets when visiting a playground.
Although this isn’t a bad idea, things can be quite tricky when you have pet waste buildup on the playground.
Pet waste is not only unsightly, but it can also present a significant threat to water quality if it isn’t disposed of in the right way. With adequate pet management measures in place, everyone can enjoy play time without worrying about water pollution.
Effective pet waste management is also one of the things pet owners can do to safeguard the environment and ensure that the play area remains clean all the time.
When setting up an outdoor playground, you should budget for proper signage that encourages pet owners to collect their pet waste into pet waste bags and dispose it appropriately.
4. Consider Recycling Some Waste
Did you know that it takes approximately 450 years for plastic water bottles to biodegrade? What is even more worrying is that some types of plastic may take over 1,000 years to dissipate.
Even when they finally biodegrade, the Polyethylene Terephthalate lefty behind is so toxic and harmful to water and soil resources. The chemical compound never leaves the environment.
There are two main things that anyone can do to safeguard the environment and keep outdoor playgrounds clean. The first and most obvious is to use less plastic containers and go for the environmental-friendly and reusable personal water containers.
The other thing is to make sure every plastic container used is recycled to avoid littering the playground and cause harm to the environment. Consider designing a playground that is recycle-friendly by installing recycle bins in strategic areas of high traffic, such as in snack areas and besides play equipment.
Encourage kids and their parents to dispose of all plastic, and aluminum cans in the recycle bins so you can take care of the recycling process. This will play a critical role in ensuring the playground isn’t littered with plastics.
5. Sanitize and Disinfect Surfaces Regularly
You should also consider using non-toxic products listed as safe for use on playground equipment to regularly sanitize and disinfect high-touch areas.
Research shows that sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces regularly reduces the numbers of germs and harmful bacteria to a safe level.
The primary purpose of disinfecting surfaces is to kill germs. Ensure you use a powerful but harmless disinfectant to get rid of germs that could easily transmit viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
6. Know How to Deal with Messes
In addition to scheduled cleaning and regular spot cleaning, there may be messes that need to be cleaned up immediately.
For instance, if a child has a potty accident or falls sick while on the playground, you need to take quick action to manage the situation before it gets out of hand.
If there are any body fluids such as blood, vomit, or urine on the play equipment, the best thing to do is close the affected equipment and clean up the mess immediately. You should also disinfect the entire area to prevent the risk of contagions.
When such a thing happens, find a way of informing playground users that the equipment is temporarily out of access for cleaning. You can use simple signage for this.
7. Get Kids Involved in Cleaning
Typically, parents, guardians, teachers, and caregivers will do everything possible to keep kids safe, but it is always safe when they are involved in the process.
All you have to do is find ways of making the cleaning experience less scary and more enjoyable by implementing a rewarding system.
You can treat those kids who conduct a thorough cleaning and take care of the playground equipment with some favors to motivate them. Most of them will love it, making it easier to keep your outdoor playground clean.