National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity User Guide for the Equine Sector
Annex 15: Cleaning and disinfecting procedures

The five-step process of cleaning and disinfection

Cleaning and disinfection are two different processes. Cleaning refers to the physical removal of organic material to allow exposure of the object's surface (for example, equipment or stall) to a disinfectant. The cleaning procedure is composed of a dry cleaning and a wet cleaning process. Dry cleaning removes the majority of organic debris (manure, bedding, debris and soil) while wet cleaning helps remove residues and biofilms from the surfaces with the use of hot water and detergents.

Disinfection refers to the application of a disinfectant (often a chemical) to a clean surface to destroy the majority of remaining pathogens. No single disinfectant is adequate for all situations. Disinfection protocols used on a daily basis will differ from those used to control an infectious disease outbreak. However, both disinfection protocols require thorough cleaning and washing prior to the application of any disinfectant.

The full process of cleaning and disinfection involves five steps in the following order:

  1. Dry cleaning
  2. Wet cleaning
  3. Drying
  4. Disinfection
  5. Drying

Step 1: Dry cleaning

Begin by moving all horses and other animals out of the areas to be cleaned. Remove any garbage, materials and equipment; remove feed and water buckets/troughs, hay nets, halters and leads, grooming equipment, and anything else that has found a resting place in the area to be cleaned.

Starting at the top of the surface to be cleaned and working down, scrape, knock, brush or wipe off accumulations of organic debris. Work from cleaner to dirtier areas to minimize unnecessary contamination of surfaces. Collect and dispose of organic debris in the manure pile. By thoroughly dry cleaning, the wet cleaning will be easier.

Step 2: Wet cleaning

Using a LOW-PRESSURE SPRAY (to minimize spreading pathogens), wet down surfaces with a solution of warm water and a detergent or degreaser. The detergent/degreaser assists in removing soil, oils and biofilms (colonies of microbes protected by a slimy /mucoid substance). The removal of biofilms is critical to eliminating organisms that may potentially cause disease.

Start by applying the solution to the most heavily contaminated areas and then proceed to apply from the top down. After allowing the solution to fully saturate the organic debris, continue cleaning using a low-pressure spray and warm water: scrub surfaces using brushes and scrapers as necessary. When the surfaces are visibly clean, thoroughly rinse with warm water to remove any remaining detergent and biofilm. Use a squeegee to remove water from floor surfaces to facilitate drying.

Step 3: Drying

Allow the surfaces to thoroughly dry. This assists in destroying the pathogens and minimizes dilution of the disinfectant. Use fans or heaters to speed up the drying process.

Step 4: Disinfection

Select an appropriate disinfectant and prepare it according to the label directions. Protect yourself by wearing appropriate clothing and personal protective equipment (for example, gloves, eye protection, boots and coveralls). Apply the disinfectant to the clean dry surfaces to the point of runoff moving from the top down. Reapply the disinfectant as necessary to ensure the surfaces remain wet for the appropriate contact time specified by the manufacturer. This will usually be a minimum of 10 minutes. Rinse surfaces if required by the manufacturer. Always rinse food and water troughs before refilling.

Step 5: Drying

Allow all surfaces to thoroughly dry before use. Use fans or heaters to speed up the drying process.

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