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How to Keep Your Library Clean During Cold and Flu Season

‘Tis the season for germs! The library can be a breeding ground for cold and flu viruses. It is especially true when you have classes rotating in and out of your library throughout the school day. Keeping the library clean may seem like a challenging task, but we have a few tips and tricks you can use to keep you and your students healthy for the holidays.

6 Tips to Keep Your Library Germ-Free

1| Ask Students to Wash Their Hands or Use Hand Sanitizer

Educate students in proper handwashing techniques, for that is the number one way to keep germs from spreading. Teach students to use plain soap and water before eating, after using the bathroom, after recess, and anytime they get dirty.

It is best to use plain, fragrance-free soap and reinforce the 20-second rule (wash hands for at least 20 seconds).

In the library, students may not have access to a sink at all times. Strategically place hand sanitizer or sanitizer wipes throughout the library. Hand sanitizer isn’t a substitute for handwashing since hand sanitizer does not completely remove oil, dirt, or hard-to-kill germs, but it can help reduce the spread of germs.

2| Identify and Clean the Dirtiest Thing in the Library

It can be said that the dirtiest thing in the classroom is the pencil sharpener. What is the dirtiest thing in your library? Is it the books, computers, or circulation desk?

Think about what is used the most in the library and how you can keep it clean throughout the day. Start by cleaning daily with soap and water. If you cannot clean daily, try to disinfect at least twice a week to kill tougher germs.

3| Wipe Down at the End of the Day

Wipe down tables, doorknobs, computer mouses, and whatever else necessary at the end of each school day. Disinfecting every day may seem like a tedious task, but it will further prevent the transfer of germs.

We suggest enlisting the help of older students or volunteers. Having the extra hands to help will cut down the time required for wiping down at the end of the day.

Cleaning Products

Disinfecting wipes such as Clorox or Lysol usually contain fragrance chemicals or quats; these types of ingredients can trigger asthma, so it is important to use fragrance-free products in school as to not trigger allergies and irritate the respiratory system during library hours.

Additionally, you shouldn’t bring common cleaning products (like bleach) from home to the library. Schools and districts supply a Safety Data Sheet for each chemical used in the school. Be sure to double-check with your school before bringing your own cleaning products.

4| Clean Toys and Other Items

Community toys like legos, blocks, makerspace tools, and board games should be cleaned regularly during the cold and flu season. Use soap and warm water to buff away dirt and germs.

Don’t forget about items like stuffed animals, blankets, and pillows. Try to take these items home or to the laundromat to wash. It is recommended to clean these items weekly.

5| Remove Germs from Books

The books in your library probably harbor the most germs, especially the popular ones like Harry Potter and Magic Treehouse. There isn’t a fool-proof way to clean a book thoroughly, but taking a small cloth and your choice of cleaner to clean off dirt and grime from the covers can go a long way.

You have a few options for products to use when cleaning your books. Demco Book Cleaner and Absorene cleaner are two non-toxic brands that take off dirt marks.

Or you can use a homemade cleaner with ¼ cup white vinegar and 2 cups water—a solution that does disinfect. You can also vacuum out books to get dust or crumbs. Be sure not to use anything that contains alcohol, for it will completely destroy your book covers and pages.

*Pro-tip: Use microfiber cloths to clean books, screens, shelves, and counters in your library. The split fibers create more surface area and are superior for removing dust, dirt, and germs. Not to mention they are reusable!

6| Request Supplies from Parents or PTA

Recruit parents to help prevent the spread of germs by asking for donations of hand sanitizer, tissues, and cleaning wipes. Parents will gladly pitch in supplies for they don’t want their children to catch a cold or flu and bring it home.

Your school can also ask parents to supply their children with their own hand sanitizer and tissues so students can have their own mini supplies.


The takeaway here is that we cannot entirely kill germs and viruses in our libraries. But we can prevent the spread of germs by washing our hands, not touching our faces with dirty hands, and trying hard not to spread any viruses we may be carrying—by staying home when sick and covering our coughs and sneezes!

Do you have any tips for reducing the spread of germs in your library? Let us know in the comments!

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