Following Sanitary Procedures

By Pam Marshalla

Women washing hands in white sink good suds

Q: Recently I came across an SLP who was using oral-motor tools but not following sanitary procedures. Ahhhhhh! What resources can I share with her?

SLPs must follow sanitary procedures at all times when touching a client in, on, or around the mouth with the hands or other objects. The following notes are from my upcoming book, The Marshalla Guide.

Sanitizing the Hands

  • Wash the hands with a sanitizing soap.
  • Dry the hands with a paper towel and dispose of it, or dry with a cloth towel and place in the laundry hamper to be washed later.
  • Slip hands into protective gloves.
  • Work with the client.
  • De-glove and dispose of gloves (one use only).
  • Wash, rinse, and dry the hands again.

Handling Tools and Toys in Sanitary Ways

Adhere to the following guidelines when handling objects that are used in, on, or around the mouth.

  1. Wood, paper, cardboard, sponge, and cotton objects: Use once and discard.
  2. Plastic, rubber, vinyl, and metal objects: Use once and then sanitize before re-using.
  3. Any object with interior surfaces that cannot be cleaned easily (e.g., straws, tubes, whistles, horns): Use once and give to the client to keep or discard.
  4. Uncertain composition: Any object of uncertain composition should be used once and then discarded. 

Sanitizing Tools and Toys

Sanitize or discard objects that have been used in, on, or around the mouth. Follow instructions on a sanitizing solution, or adhere to the following inexpensive guidelines.

  • Wash the object using regular household dish soap and water.
  • Rinse thoroughly.
  • Soak for five minutes in a solution made from 1-part household bleach and 10-parts water.*
  • Rinse thoroughly again.
  • Allow to air dry.
  • Place in a clean container and store for re-use.

*UPDATE 2018: Today, it is not always recommended that we use bleach for disinfecting toys and other items that may go into children’s mouths. Soaps such as Pure Green 24 or Clorox Beach-Free Hydrogen Peroxide Spray are popular, as is using dish soap or the dishwasher when possible. Consider using bleach only when necessary and sparingly. 

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