The Water Quality and Health Council launched Moms Against Cooties in 2011 to provide helpful tips on family health and disinfection to busy mothers and an online discussion forum for moms.  The Water Quality & Health Council consists of a group of independent public health and consumer experts who have been advising the American Chemistry Council’s Chlorine Chemistry Division for over 20 years.

What Are Cooties?

To kids, Cooties are icky things they can rid themselves of with the aid of a cootie shot or cootie catcher. To you, “cooties” should take on a more serious meaning: These are the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that spread illnesses like the flu, common cold and strep throat that your child can encounter anywhere.

Surfaces in your child’s world that can transmit cooties include shared toys, diaper changing stations, desks, lunch and snack tables, playground equipment, bathroom surfaces, door knobs and handles.

What can we reasonably do to help protect our kids from cooties?

We cannot prevent our kids from being exposed to all cooties, nor would that be good for them.  However, there are simple things we can do and encourage our children’s caregivers and educators to do that will help prevent the spread of cooties that can make our kids sick.

First, personal hygiene:  All family members should make a habit of washing their hands properly (lather up thoroughly with warm, soapy water and rinse—the whole operation should take as long as it takes you to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice).  Hand-washing is important after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, touching pets, before preparing food and before eating.  Kids can be taught the importance of hand-washing from an early age.

Always consult your pediatrician, but as a general rule, children should be up to date with their vaccinations and all children older than 6 months should have a flu shot to protect against seasonal flu.

Finally, we can help prevent the spread of cooties by properly cleaning and disinfecting our kids’ surroundings in a very targeted way.  We don’t advocate disinfecting the entire indoor environment of children, but frequently touched surfaces are a good bet for a cootie “hang-out,” particularly when flu, colds and other illnesses are rampant.

Frequently-touched surfaces can be regularly cleaned and disinfected using simple chlorine bleach solutions. An easy to make and affordable solution of chlorine bleach kills most bacteria and viruses that lurk within reach of children, including Norovirus (also known as the “Stomach Bug” and “Winter Vomiting Flu”) – the most common cause of stomach illness.

Simple directions for mixing chlorine bleach and water can be found on our kitchen magnet and our posters.

Combat Cooties with this 2-Step Cleaning and Disinfection Process:


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