Ask the Expert: What Makes a Good Soap? – Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus

Posted on April 28, 2015 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Ann Hoskins, Vita Plus calf products coordinator

Question:  Cleanliness in our calf area is a top priority on our farm.  So many cleaning and disinfecting products are available, how do I know which are best for eliminating pathogens? 

A:  Detergents and disinfectants should be selected based on the job they must perform. Their effectiveness depends on the concentration, water temperature and contact time.

Detergents used for cleaning equipment are similar to those in your milking systems. Alkaline detergents remove both organic matter and minerals, although hard water can interfere with this process. Chlorine loosens protein, while alkaline solutions dissolve fat, protein and carbohydrates. Acid cleaners remove mineral deposits.

Disinfectants should be broad-spectrum, non-irritating, non-toxic, non-corrosive and inexpensive. Other considerations include effectiveness against pathogens, safety of use and residual activity.

Effectiveness depends on many factors. Start with a clean surface by removing buildup and organic matter. Disinfectants can be inactivated by protein and other organic matter. They must be applied at the proper concentration and temperature and given adequate contact time.

As with all cleaners and chemicals, take proper precautions and follow label instructions.

Example cleaning protocol

  • Rinse the equipment with warm (90 to 100 degrees F) water to remove all residues, including milk solids.
  • Manually wash equipment with a chlorinated alkaline detergent.  You may use a brush or soap product from dairy supply company.  The water temperature should be between 135 and 140 degrees F for this process.
  • Rinse equipment again with warm (90 to 100 degrees F) water.
  • Disinfect equipment with an acid solution.
  • Hang equipment upside-down on a wall (not on the floor or stacked) to dry completely.
  • Prior to use, sanitize with chlorine dioxide. Wait five minutes before using the equipment and do not dry or rinse prior to use. To ensure proper sanitation, check the solution’s chlorine concentration with high-range test strips.

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Category: Sanitation
Starting Strong - Calf Care