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sandpit; sand; toxoplasmosis; safety; play; clean; pit; cleaning ;

Sandpits provide many hours of fun for children and allow for lots of different types of play, but unclean sandpits can cause infections in children. With a small amount of care they can be kept clean and safe for children to play in.

Keeping sandpits clean

enjoying play in the sandpit Make sure the sandpit is well drained when it is built, so that it stays as dry as possible. 

Keeping the sandpit clean and dry is more important than regular disinfecting.

  • Cover the sandpit when not in use, eg with fine chicken wire, so that cats or dogs will not use it as a toilet. If you use fine wire rain will wash the sand, helping to keep it clean, so long as the water can drain away.
  • Plastic covers, which do not let air through, can keep the sandpit damp, and are not such a good idea.
  • Take toys out of the sandpit each day.
  • Rake the sandpit regularly, to remove rubbish and to stir up the sand so it gets aired - sunshine and fresh air are good disinfectants.
  • Remove any dirt and rubbish you can see.
  • Wash the sand with tap water if it is not regularly washed by rain.

Disinfecting sand pits is only needed when they are obviously dirty. Disinfect the sand when you need to (eg if a child does a poo in the sandpit). Use a mild detergent or household disinfectant diluted in water in a watering can. Follow the instructions that are on the container for washing floors and surfaces.


Sandpits need to be adequately shaded. Deciduous trees can be used to provide shade in summer whilst open branches allow the sun to filter through in winter.

A shade structure could also be used.

Sandpit problems

  • Sandpits can become unclean when animals, particularly cats, and children use them as toilets.
  • Toxoplasmosis can (rarely) be spread from cats to humans through dirty sandpits.
    • Toxoplasmosis can harm an unborn child, but is usually a mild illness in children and adults. It causes a rash, swollen glands, fever and feeling unwell.
    • For more information have a look at the information on the Department of Health South Australia website 'Toxoplasma infection'.
  • Insects can live in damp sand and may bite or sting children.

More information

KidsafeSA has an information sheet about sandpit construction and safety

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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