Dogs, they’re not afraid of getting dirty. Running around the yard, wrestling with one another, digging—all signs of a happy, healthy dog. Cleaning up after dogs isn’t the most fun part of being a breeder (or any pet business), but it’s important. Last year’s outbreak of canine influenza that began after a dog show just shows how necessary good cleaning protocols are.
Dirtiness, bad smells, old dog beddings, and soiled laundry all send the wrong message to forever homes, and visitors. Prospective buyers look closely at the cleanliness of a breeder’s kennels (and wouldn’t you do the same?). If you have a consistent cleaning routine, you can invite prospective clients to visit the puppies at a moment’s notice.
These top tips will leave your kennels cleaner—and make the job easier on you!
1. Safety First
The first reflex and though every dog breeder should have is to put safety first. Meaning, you must make sure animals, pets, children, and yourself, will remain protected or safely confined away from harm. Deep cleaning and sanitizing almost always requires strong chemicals, so take precautionary measures and always:
- Remove the animal from the area you’re cleaning
- Allow the area to dry before reintroducing the animal
- Check chemical interactions between products
- Wear appropriate protective gear when cleaning
Mistakes some dog owners have done and regretted, that you should never do include:
- Mixing bleach/chlorine products with ammonia-based products
- Storing products where animals or children can reach them
Of course, these points are common sense to most of us. Yet, you may proactively think about these measures now, but let’s see in a year’s time. Human beings tend to overlook some key steps when things are done repeatedly over time.
2. Frequency Is Key
The longer that a surface goes without cleaning, the more time germs have to reproduce and grow. This makes it more likely that more dogs will come in contact with the germs. Symptoms of distemper can take over 4 weeks to appear and in some cases, healthy dogs may carry a disease without becoming ill.
If you have 2 dogs or more, or if your dogs frequently socialize with other dogs, you need to deep clean your kennel weekly (at least). If you’re currently doing less than that, ask yourself: what is stopping me from cleaning more?
If you hate mixing disinfectants or have trouble cleaning the floors and walls, the Wysiwash Sanitizing System may be the solution. Wysiwash is a pet safe, biodegradable sanitizer and deodorizer. The system attaches to a garden hose and the sprayer erodes a jacketed caplet of compressed calcium hypochlorite (the same thing that’s used in high use swimming pools). With Wysiwash, all you need to do is pick up the kennel, spray it down with Wysiwash, and squeegee it dry. (If you have metal kennels, you may want to rinse them off before squeegeeing.) Wysiwash has been shown in tests to eliminate parvo, giardia, canine influenza, and many other illness-causing germs.
3. Wash Before Disinfecting
Before you apply your sanitizer or disinfectant, you need to get rid of the visible grime. This means picking up clumps of hair, dirt, leaves, etc. If there were feces or vomit in the kennel, scrub the spot with a soapy mixture to break it up. This allows the disinfectant solution to fully penetrate the mess.
Sure, this is a gross but much-needed step in order to prepare the surface prior to disinfection. Feel free to invest in some disposable surgical gloves if you are easily grossed out. We’ve all been there, cleaning our pet’s mess.
4. Clean Top to Bottom
There are lots of different ways that illness-causing bacteria and viruses can spread. While the floor is the main focus of cleaning, viruses and bacteria can still be on walls, ceilings, and doors. If you start with the floor, bacteria from the walls and ceiling will drip down—meaning you’ll have simply spread germs around. Instead, start with the ceiling, then the walls, and end with the floor.
Avoid kennel cleaning sessions in which you only wash the flooring briefly before letting it dry. Forgetting or ignoring walls and ceiling means you have spent some time cleaning your floor for nothing. Sanitizing and disinfecting kennels or dog areas must be done thoroughly in order to eradicate all threats.
5. Check the Contact Time
Sanitizers and disinfectants vary in the time it takes them to break apart germs. The manufacturer should make the contact time clear (sometimes called CT, dwell time, or kill time). Set a timer to make sure you’re giving the product enough time to eliminate pathogens.
Avoid self-deciding how long is long enough when it comes to chemicals. Only the manufacturers know exactly what is inside the kennel cleaner, and what are the consequences of leaving it on for too long. Although it is tempting to have it there for double the time, there is no point in doing so.
6. Spot Clean Between Deep Cleans
You don’t need us to tell you that when a puppy has an accident or a dog vomits, you need to clean it up. This is common sense. However, make sure you’re cleaning effectively. Before spraying disinfectant, remove as much of the mess as you can. Only use the disinfectant after all the solids are removed.
Additionally, schedule some comprehensive deep kennel cleaning sessions every few weeks, and throw in some spot cleaning in between. Just like cleaning a home: there are various levels of cleaning. Some must be done on the spot, others weekly, and more rarely, every month or so.
Many people think that by adding more disinfectant, they’re making it more effective. Unfortunately, the opposite is true! Plus, when a product is improperly diluted, it may leave a harmful residue that can burn or poison your pups.
Again, do not self-dose a cleaning product you do not understand or master. Manufacturers of kennel cleaning products have studied the best dosage for optimal results in labs and in real life. Trust them and do not use more or less than instructed. That way, you also avoid risks of poisoning or ill-consequences on your environment (grass, flooring, wood, paint, etc).
8. Start with Healthy Animals
To avoid spreading illness, start by cleaning the housing areas of healthy animals, and clean the cages of sick dogs last. The ASPCA recommends cleaning in the following order:
- Cages and kennels of healthy puppies
- Crates of healthy nursing bitches and queens
- Healthy adult animals
- Unhealthy animals
Experts recommend separate cleaning gear (meaning everything from scrub brushes and squeegees, to gloves and aprons) for sick or quarantined animals. Do not overlook your own hygiene and precautions. You may want to shower after cleaning your sick animals’ area, for example.
9. Sanitize Your Tools (and Throw Out Your Cotton Mop)
Squeegees, scrub brushes, and especially mop heads can drag viruses and bacteria from one cage to another.
Disinfect your tools thoroughly and frequently—and use tools that can be easily disinfected like plastic scrub brushes and microfiber cloths. Rakes and poop scoopers, in particular, need to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected daily. Consider buying a poop scooper made from antimicrobial materials like this one from Nature’s Miracle.
Avoid cleaning tools made out of organic materials, like cotton rags and mops or straw brooms. Organic materials are harder to disinfect and are the perfect breeding grounds for germs and bacteria.
10. Detergent Doesn't Kill Germs
Did you know that washing alone is not enough to get rid of germs on fabrics? According to Kelly Reynolds a researcher at the University of Arizona, “One germy item in the washer will spread to 90% of the other items.” To get fabrics germ-free, dry them on high heat for at least 30 minutes.
If an animal is sick, take extra precautions—but don’t double up on the detergent. Washing machines can only process so much detergent per cycle, and the residue left on fabrics can actually trap bacteria on the fabric (and irritate your dog’s skin). Instead, wash the animal’s bedding separately and be sure to sanitize your washing machine afterward. Wash your hands after putting the clothes in the dryer. Be sure to sanitize your washing machine afterward.
11. Protect Your Washing Machine from Clumps of Pet Hair
Letting pet hair accumulate in your washing machine can cause the drain to clog, stressing your motor and your plumbing system. Plus, the fur will get mixed in your next load of laundry—and aren’t you tired of lint rollers?
The best way to prevent fur from clogging your washing machine is to never let it in in the first place. These laundry hacks from cleaning expert Melissa Maker, are serious game-changers:
- Before washing — place your load of laundry in the dryer on the fluff/no heat setting for 10 minutes. This loosens up hair stuck in the fabric. For best results add a damp dryer sheet or dryer balls. Tip: A clean lint trap picks up even more fur.
- Shake It — before placing clothing in the washing machine shake them out to allow excess hair to fall onto the floor.
- And Shake It Again — after washing, shake items out before placing them in the dryer. Don’t forget to put the dryer balls or a dryer sheet in and make sure your lint trap is clean.
After washing, keep the lid up and allow the drum of your washing machine to completely dry. Then, use a dryer sheet to wipe off any remaining pet hair.
12. Wash Your Washing Machine
You would think that washing machines would keep themselves clean, but alas it’s simply not true. Excess detergent and the damp environment make it a perfect environment for growing mold, bacteria, and viruses. Luckily, washing machines are easy to clean. Simply run the machine on empty with household bleach, EfferSan, vinegar, and baking soda, or any number of homemade solutions (do not combine products). Be sure to use hot water to break down soap scum and any mold that may have accumulated.
If you have a front loading machine, be sure to dry off the door’s gasket after each wash. Water can accumulate there, trapping mold and germs. Also, let the front-door open after a wash to allow the drum to dry.
To get more hair when vacuuming, sprinkle baking soda lightly on your carpet. The baking soda will help loosen pet hair and deodorize it simultaneously. If you do not clean and vacuum your carpets, you will allow millions of bacteria, germs, and parasites, to grow and spread just on one carpet alone.
Carpets are a bacteria’s favorite playground and with animals laying all over them, it is a crucial part of the home to clean thoroughly, and very much regularly.
14. Squeegee Your Upholstery
Another genius tip from Melissa Maker: use a shower squeegee to get pet hair off of your couch and upholstered chairs. This is a great environmentally-friendly (and frugal) alternative to using disposable lint rollers. And because hair accommodates so many parasites, germs and bacteria, getting rid of the hair means getting rid of a lot of unwanted visitors.
15. Beware of Robot Vacuums
Many multi-pet homes look to robot vacuums to automate daily vacuuming and prevent fur from piling up. But the reality is not so pretty. You’ll need to keep your floors completely clear—which dogs (and their toys and water bowls) make pretty much impossible. Then there are the horror stories: one man famously posted about waking up to a “poopocalypse” after his Roomba smeared his puppy’s accident all around his house.
Another thing no one tells you about robot vacuums, you have to clean them frequently. Not just the dustbin, but also the brush, and many tiny moving parts. In our experience, this takes as long as vacuuming the area with a stand-up vacuum yourself.
16. Don't Forget Your Air Ducts
Pet dander and fur accumulate quickly on your air conditioner filters. Change your filters monthly. This helps keep allergens out of the air and keeps your air conditioner working efficiently. But beware of duct cleaning scams. Experts say that most homes only need to have their ductwork professionally cleaned every 3-5 years. It may be a costly operation so take your time before picking the company that will upkeep it for you.
What are your kennel cleaning hacks? Now, we want to hear from you! Share your tips in the comments or on our Facebook page. We hope that these tips and tricks will save you time and effort, and we can’t wait to read yours!