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Old 03-05-2012, 07:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Feb 2012
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Default Cage cleaning with bleach?

I had planned to do the weekly 'big clean' with either dish soap (Ivory) and water, and/or a 50/50 vinegar/water mix, followed by a plain water rinse and dry.

My breeder suggested that I use bleach and water (10% bleach) because that does the best job of killing bacteria. Evidently, that is what the USDA standards require.

So, okay, no problem. Today was the first full cleaning. Most things I washed with soap and water: PVC tunnel, house, et cetera. I used the bleach solution for the Cloroplast box (floor and sides). OMG. 10% is pretty powerful. I've got a huge headache from being around it. I've washed my hands several times and they still reek of it. I didn't even actually touch it very much. I made the solution in a bowl and then put it in a small spray bottle, so, though thorough, I only used a very, very small amount.

I let the cage air out and completely dry while Sophie and I had 'together time'. I was afraid that my hands would bother her, but she paid no mind to the smell at all from what I could tell. (She likes to sleep under my hand.)

My breeder knows a lot more than I do, but was my original plan satisfactory for sanitation and safety? I will certainly use the bleach mix if that is the thing to do, but it was very miserable for me. The mix was accurate, and the area is hardly enclosed.
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
Hooked on Hogs
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Default Re: Cage cleaning with bleach?

I've never used bleach. I can't stand the smell and wouldn't subject the gang to the smell either. There are other products that disinfect just as well as bleach without the smell. Personally, I think vinegar and water works great and has worked for me for 9 years.
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Old 03-05-2012, 11:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cage cleaning with bleach?

i dont trust bleach, i have always used vinigar and have actully found my animals has lived much much longer if i only used vinager.
had a hamster since she was baby, cleaned her cage with vinager and she lived 5 years
so thats my two cents

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Old 03-06-2012, 01:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cage cleaning with bleach?

I also prefer to use vinegar. Bleach makes me a bit nervous, plus I'm prone to clumsily spilling and don't want to bleach the carpet in my bedroom. Somehow I don't think my landlord would appreciate that much. I usually make a mixture that's around 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 hot water and it does the trick. It loosens up some of the more icky hedgehog messes (ie. poopy wheels) really easily and vinegar is a natural disinfectant so I feel confident that things are really getting clean. I've taken microbiology classes as a nursing student and I seem to remember my instructor mentioning that a 5% vinegar solution actually kills the same amount of germs as household cleaners that are full of chemicals. The only real downside is that no matter how many times I wash my hands, I still feel like they smell like vinegar. I could just be imagining it, though.

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Old 03-06-2012, 02:02 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cage cleaning with bleach?

It sounded fine when it was suggested that it was a step up from what I had planned. My experience and knowledge are so much less, who was I to not take it seriously. But once I got into doing it today, I quickly had a strong feeling that it might do more harm than good, short-term and long-term.

I was very careful to mix the specified 10% ratio, but I got a wicked headache, and the smell was very strong on me and in the room. And I actually used very little, because I deployed it from a spray bottle. Thank goodness I didn't just swab a towel down (which I easily could have). I don't suppose that it hurt anything to do it once, but I'm wishing I hadn't.

I know that bleach has been around a long time, but I usually think of it as a pretty harsh cleaner. Soap-and-water and vinegar-and-water have been used as gentle but effective cleaners and sanitizers for about forever. Unless I get more advice otherwise that sounds compelling, I am definitely going back to Plan A. I'm really regretting the foray into bleach and feel badly about it. I'm paranoid enough about every little thing that Sophie needs.
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Old 03-06-2012, 11:38 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Location: Arlington Heights, IL
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Default Re: Cage cleaning with bleach?

Don't feel bad about it. Using bleach was my first inclination as well until my mom suggested vinegar, and even then I was hesitant because I really HATE the smell of the stuff. My mom used to use it to clean the bathrooms in our house when I was growing up and it always nauseated me. Bleach is a very easy, effective way to disinfect something, so I'm not surprised that it was recommended by both your breeder and the USDA. I really doubt that using it will cause any serious negative effects. I just think it might be better to be safe than sorry in this situation.

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Old 03-06-2012, 02:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cage cleaning with bleach?

I found this article about using bleach as a disinfectant. It says, for the stronger solution (used for cleaning bathrooms, diaper areas, etc.), use 1/4 c bleach to 1 gallon of water. That is a ratio of 1:64. Your breeder told you to use a ratio of 1:10. Child care practices use less bleach in their strongest solution than your breeder. I would do some research on best practices if you want to use bleach. And make sure you rinse surfaces with plain water when finished cleaning.

I use a vinegar/water solution and I'm confident that it works well.

~Everyone deserves a forever home.~

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