Cage Washing – Best Practice and Solutions

Cage Washing - Best Practice and Solutions

We understand that ensuring your animal welfare and minimise cross-contamination are the keys for the success of your research. Therefore, carrying out proper practices for the cleaning of animal cages is essential. When it comes to decontamination, our specialists can help you to improve your every day process and achieve maximum safety by introducing small improvement in your everyday methods. Our Life Science specialist,has answered commonly asked questions about cage washing detergents, best practices and solutions to maximise results.

What detergent should I use in my cage washer for processing mouse and rat caging?

As mice and rats have low uric scale levels in their urine and generally have lower organic soiling within the cage, we would recommend the use of a single neutral detergent. A neutral detergent will effectively clean light to medium soiling and negates the need for any neutralisation when being sent to drain from the washer. On cage washers that are in a hard water area and do not have a water softener the use of an acid detergent can reduce hard water deposits on caging and within the washer. Acid detergents do not have as effective cleaning properties so they should only be used on lightly soiled cages or bottles. In hard water cleaning applications, we would always recommend installing a separate water softener.

What detergent should I use for washing larger species caging such as rabbits and guinea pigs?

Larger species of mammals have higher levels of uric scale within their urine and also produce more organic soiling. This changes the way you should approach your cage washing detergents. Although a neutral detergent will be fine on heavily soiled mouse and rat caging, it will need to work harder to achieve the final results. If you now consider a larger mammals soiling, fecal matter is larger and greasier, which means it is much harder to penetrate and separate the soling from the cage substrate. An alkali detergent will offer the appropriate surfactants to remove all heavy soiling. You also have to consider the heavier urine deposits (this is usually the orangy yellow sticky substance in the corner of a cage), which a neutral or alkali detergent will not be able to remove. to do this, an acid detergentis require. Therefore, larger mammal caging (Rabbit, Guinne Pigs, Ferrats, Primate etc.) should have a 2 phase wash cycle (Wash Phase 1 – Alkali Detergent; Wash Phase 2 - Acid Detergent) and high temperature fresh water rinse.

Can I use a rinse additive on caging that will be sterilised afterwards?

Some cage wash manufacturers state that their rinse aid is compatible for use on sterilised caging. Firstly, you should always check with the specific caging manufacturer to ensure both you and your supplier are satisfied. We would never recommend the use of a rinse aid with caging that will be sterilised. Sterilisation will cause plastics to deteriorate over time, and chemical residue will in most cases accelerate the process. Maybe instead of using a rinse aid, consider a modification to your cage wash cycle -a few minutes extra for drying may give you years on your cages!

What cages are your cage wash detergents compatible with?

Sychems Cage Wash Detergents have been used within biomedical facilities since 1982. They are industry proven on AllenTown, Tecniplast, NKP, Lab Products and most cage manufacturers. Sychem are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to cage washing and the biosecurity of animal facilities and the environmental control measures used.

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