Cleaning a stall is crucial to maintain the health of your horse(s), and may aid in limiting the spread of contamination when an outbreak of infectious disease occurs.
It may also be necessary after a period of disuse or as a precautionary measure when infection is suspected. Here’s how:
1. Remove all bedding from the stall. Do not put contaminated bedding in a manure pile or anywhere near animals. Piles of manure and bedding are perfectly suited for the breeding of bacteria. Dispose of soiled bedding by spreading it in an area where it can break down undisturbed and away from horses, or preferably, remove it completely.
2. Remove all nonpermanent objects from the stall and completely disinfect. This includes all water and feed buckets, rubber mats (if easily movable), toys, and any other loose items. If you have automatic waterers installed, you will need to shut off the water and drain the waterers per the manufacturer’s recommendations to do a thorough cleaning.
Once all objects are removed, they will need to be cleaned and disinfected. Start by using a stiff bristled brush and a mixture of hot water and dish detergent (natural, earth friendly if possible) to scrub away any residue. Rinse thoroughly and air dry. Next, scrub all items again, this time using a solution of one part laundry-type chlorine bleach to ten parts water. Allow items to air dry. Next, scrub a third time using the mixture of hot water and dish detergent. Lastly, rinse thoroughly to remove any remaining bleach or detergent and allow items to air dry.
Allowing surfaces to dry completely in between each step ensures that the cleaning agent in each step is not diluted by mixing it with any leftover soiled water from the previous step.
Be sure to allow all items to dry completely before replacing them back into a stall. If you have removable rubber mats, they will need to be cleaned and disinfected on both sides in the same manner as the stall according to Step 5 below. For best results, allow mats and other items to dry in the sun, as sunlight is a natural sanitizer.
3. Remove all debris/organic matter from the stall. Starting from the top, sweep and dust ceiling (if reachable), ledges, walls, stall fronts and dividers, floor and any permanent equipment of all cobwebs, dust, hay, etc. Be sure to properly dispose of and/or clean, using chlorine bleach solution described above, all brooms, rags, and other tools used. Do not put rags in dryer or leave piled on the floor, as they may be a potential fire hazard. If dust is especially bad, wear a dust mask or respirator suitable to the conditions.
4. Wash all surfaces of the stall, including any permanent stall equipment, with dish detergent, using a pressure washer or garden hose and stiff bristled brush. Be sure to scrub all surfaces well as a good scrubbing can remove over 90% of contaminants. Once cleaning is completed and all organic matter is removed from surfaces, corners and cracks, rinse the stall thoroughly from the top down and allow stall to air dry.
If standing water remains, use a broom, wet/dry shop vacuum, or squeegee to remove it and speed up the drying process. These tools will also have to be disinfected after use.
5. Clean and disinfect all surfaces of stall with a mixture of Lysol Disinfectant Concentrate and water using a garden-type sprayer. Dilute the disinfectant according to the product instructions. Using the sprayer, soak all surfaces of the stall and allow to dry completely. This step may need to be repeated depending on the severity of the outbreak of infectious disease on your farm or nearby. Do not rinse off disinfectant. Allowing surfaces to completely dry ensures proper time for the disinfectant to eliminate harmful pathogens.
Please note, use caution when applying harmful chemicals such as bleach and disinfectant. Read all product labels and always wear protective clothing, including goggles, head gear, gloves, and long sleeves and pants.
6. Return all removed objects to the stall including any floor mats. Allow a minimum of 24 hours before adding bedding to ensure the stall is dry and disinfected.
If your stall floor is dirt and you have a strong ammonia odor due to the accumulation of urine, you can spread a thin layer of agricultural lime over the floor before rebedding the stall. Lime will reduce odor causing bacteria and other potentially harmful organisms from growing on the stall floor. If using lime, make sure it is completely covered with bedding so there is no direct contact as it may cause irritation to the horse’s skin.
7. Bed the stall with fresh bedding. The stall is now ready for use.