The Real Dirt On Cleaning

By Kathy Hosler

The first thing that a person notices when they enter your salon or mobile unit is how it looks and smells.  Good or bad— that first impression is never forgotten.

Take an in–depth look at your facility through your client’s eyes. Do you see pet excrement or smell urine outside of your establishment? Once you step inside, do you see a floor covered with dirty hair?  Are used, wet towels tossed in a heap by the bathtub?

Cleaning

When most of us think about cleaning, we think it means getting rid of dirt, but there is a lot more to cleaning than just removing dirt. One definition of cleaning is to remove unwanted substances from a surface or environment. Those other unwanted substances can be mold spores, bacteria, viruses, germs, etc., and eliminating them is a must. Disinfecting and odor control is crucial and must be included in your overall cleaning program.

Odor Control

Even if your facility looks spotlessly clean, if it doesn’t smell fresh and inviting, it’s a real turn-off for people. We have all walked into places that smell less than pleasant. Instantly, you want to limit the amount of time you spend there, and you are unlikely to return.

Disinfecting

In addition to cleaning and deodorizing, disinfecting is essential for everyone in the pet care industry. Not only will it help eliminate the transmission of disease between the pets that you groom, but also those diseases that can be passed from pets to humans.

If you or a member of your team has ever contracted ringworm or have gotten a staph infection from a pet that was groomed in your facility, you will never forget how important sanitation is. Or if a pet develops canine (kennel) cough or canine influenza, and it is traced to your facility, you could experience a huge loss in business and your reputation could be permanently affected.

Do Your Research

You want all the products you use to clean, disinfect, and deodorize to work well, be cost effective, and do no harm to the pets, people, or surfaces that they come in contact with.

Did you know that if a wet or damp pet is placed on a surface that has not been rinsed completely, harsh chemical residue can reactivate? While pets are in your holding cages, they may lick the cage surfaces and ingest cleaning chemicals. And, that residue can also be absorbed through their pads. Also, if you use a compartment dryer, pets can inhale the constantly recirculating particles. Be aware that the strong odors of some products may be overwhelming to pets and cause them stress.

Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the correct dilution rate, the amount of contact time required for effective cleaning and disinfection, and the thoroughness of rinsing. Never mix multiple products together as it can produce dangerous consequences. Did you know that mixing bleach with vinegar produces chlorine gas? And, mixing bleach and ammonia produces toxic vapors called chloramine? Both of these combinations (even at low concentrations) can cause coughing, breathing problems, burning, watery eyes, and even chest pain.

Best Ways to Clean

When you clean and disinfect surfaces such as grooming tables and crates, it is recommended that you use a bottle with a ‘squirt top’ (like those on dish washing liquid bottles) rather than one that sprays a mist. This greatly reduces the amount of product that is aerosolized into the environment, which helps protect the respiratory health of both groomers and pets.

Cleaning should be done continuously, not put off until the end of the day. A disinfectant or cleaner will work best when it is applied directly after soiling or contamination. For example, you should clean a holding cage as soon as possible upon taking an animal out, instead of waiting until you are going to put another pet into it. Once again, you must follow the manufacturer’s directions for use for the product to perform as it was intended. Disinfectants require a certain amount of contact time for optimal effectiveness.

All of the products you use in your facility should be handled with care and properly stored. Germicidal and cleaning products do not have an unlimited shelf life. They can lose their efficacy. Always check the expiration date on every product before you use it.

Safety

It’s important that any cleaning products you use are effective and work well, but you also want to make sure that they are safe to use and nontoxic to you and the pets in your care. Now, many organic and chemical free, natural cleaning products are available that are safe for pets, people, and their surroundings. Environmentally friendly products are often less harsh on the surfaces that you are cleaning.

Indoor air can be five times more polluted than outdoor air. Improving the air quality in your salon greatly reduces the chance of transmission of airborne micro-organisms and other respiratory related health issues. Lots of facilities have found that using air purification systems that incorporate Ultraviolet Light (UV) will significantly reduce the amount of bacteria, yeast, mold, and viruses.

And did you know that how you do your salon laundry is important, too? For thorough cleaning and disinfecting, your shop towels should be washed in hot water and you should add bleach or another disinfecting agent to each load. Then they should be dried on the hottest setting of your dryer. Your grooming clothes should also be washed and sanitized regularly.

There are few things more important to an owner than the peace of mind they have when their pet is in a safe environment and is being well cared for. Now that you have the real lowdown on ‘dirt’, make cleaning, disinfecting, and eliminating odors part of your everyday routine. ✂

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