We all know that in our pet grooming businesses we should be keeping up with proper sanitation and cleaning procedures, but sometimes, for one reason or another, we can get a little lax with staying on top of it.
Sometimes our grooming rooms, tables, scissors and tools look visibly clean, but it’s the things we can’t see that can be the most problematic—and could be doing the most harm. We can vacuum and wipe down surfaces and keep things tidy, but dirt, hair and dander can accumulate quickly in hard–to–reach places, corners and crevices, and even on our tools, providing an opportunity for harmful bacteria to flourish.
Proper cleaning and sanitation protocols can help us to keep a safe and sanitary work environment, but why is it really so important?
Aside from the obvious need to keep a clean–looking grooming area, there are some extremely important reasons for utilizing proper cleaning and sanitation procedures in our grooming businesses.
Bacteria is ever–present in our environment; it’s on the surfaces we touch, it can be carried on clothing and shoes, dog leashes and collars, and active bacterial infections on a dog’s skin can cross–contaminate our tools and spread to other pets—or in some cases—to the groomers.
The same can be said about fungal infections. Fungus spores are airborne and love to flourish in warm, moist areas, and sometimes those warm, moist areas are on the dogs we groom. We’ve all experienced yeasty ears or paws, causing redness, swelling, oily discharge and foul odors, or fungal infections brewing around weepy eyes, which left unchecked can spread to other areas of the pet, and possibly to our tools and grooming spaces.
Hidden dangers are lurking right in our grooming spaces. But fear not, there are ways to combat, control and eradicate these bacteria, leaving clean and sanitized work areas and tools. Let’s take a look at some of the tools and products available for fending off harmful bacteria and fungus in our work spaces and on our tools.
The most obvious are disinfecting products and sprays. For basic cleaning purposes, good old soap and warm water will break down dirt and oils and wash away some bacteria and fungal spores, but these tiny invaders can sometimes need a stronger approach. Creating a solution of 10% bleach and water is a very effective mixture to kill bacteria and fungus. I use a basic utility plastic spray bottle to hold the solution, and I use this solution to disinfect the stainless steel tub, shampoo mixing bottles and other nonporous surfaces.
For areas that could be damaged by bleach products, a great option is to use formulated disinfectants that can be diluted with water and are safe for all surfaces. There are many animal–safe disinfectants that can be used to clean spaces and to spray on tools. I like to use Barbicide or Nolvasan diluted in a spray bottle to spray on tools that I don’t want to submerge in water but need disinfecting. For my shears, I like to use 70% rubbing alcohol saturated on a cotton ball to wipe down the shears and remove dirt, hair and oil before reapplying scissor oils to the assembly.
It’s very important to remember to sanitize thoroughly after grooming any dog with a skin condition to avoid cross–contamination. Cross–contamination occurs when you use tools such as a brush, comb or other tool on a pet with a bacterial or fungal infection, and then use the same tool on an otherwise healthy pet without sanitizing first. The brush, comb or tool can then spread the bacteria or fungus to the next pet, and if conditions are favorable, the second pet can now become afflicted with the infection.
The same goes with recirculating systems for bathing. If you use one of these bathing systems to wash a pet with problematic skin, your recirculating system now has the fungus or bacteria throughout and needs to be flushed with disinfectant before using it on another pet. Running one cycle with water and an antibacterial or antifungal product is also effective in cleaning out the bathing system.
Also remember to give your grooming table a good spray–down and wipe all hard surfaces well to avoid cross–contamination after grooming any pet with any health issue. Many groomers like to use a tabletop mat to make standing more comfortable for pets, so be sure to remember to clean and sanitize your grooming mats thoroughly.
Another type of disinfecting products are ultra–violet light box sanitizers. These products use extended exposure to UV–C light to kill bacteria, fungus and viruses. You place your tools inside the box, and after a set time, you can remove them, confident that they have been disinfected. The UV–C light is strong enough to penetrate the bacteria and destroy it, but it’s important to note that this type of disinfecting process works best on smooth surfaces that can get full exposure to the light. So this option may not be the best for rough surfaces or tools with grooves and crevices. Sometimes a one–two punch option is best; use a liquid product to clean the crevices and finish with the UV light process.
Avoiding cross–contamination is crucial in providing the safest and best grooming services to our clients. A few easy steps will go a long way in keeping your clients safe and maintaining a healthy and sanitary grooming environment. ✂️