Shelter Medicine: Sanitation Sanity
Our veterinary columnist answers your cleaning and disinfection questions
Recently, while teaching an online class covering infectious disease management in the shelter, I made a mistake: I assumed that the audience of shelter and veterinary professionals would want to know about things beyond cleaning and disinfecting! I quickly found out that, while the subject may seem basic, questions abound about new products, how to eliminate certain diseases, and how to clean effectively in shelter environments. I could not keep up with all the questions that came in!
Recognizing the need for more information on this topic, I’ve used this article to answer some questions I’ve received in my courses, and some that came in through Animal Sheltering’s Facebook followers.
What is the difference between sanitizing, cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing?
This is such a good question! You may find that these terms are not used by everyone in exactly the same manner—and in truth, they mean slightly different things.
I consider sanitizing to be the practice of eliminating as many infectious organisms as possible. In most shelters, sanitation is accomplished through cleaning and disinfecting.