The concentration, strength or dilution of the disinfectant is important. All disinfectants are relatively effective at destroying or inactivating most viruses and bacteria. However, high concentrations and a long contact time is required to kill egg-like structures (parasite eggs, cysts, oocysts and spores). Cleanliness is the key to reducing the amount of contagious material.
Some disinfectants are inactivated by faeces, urine, blood, food and debris, so even if they claim to “clean and disinfect”, cleaning followed by a disinfection stage is required. These disinfectants can be used to clean, but heavily soiled areas, solid faeces or hardened food in bowls should always be removed first for the best results.
Allowing the disinfectant to be in contact with the contagious material for long enough, also known as the contact time is essential, before rinsing with plenty of water – “the solution to pollution is dilution”. Always use them at the concentrations stated by the manufacturers; stronger concentrations may be dangerous, weaker concentration ineffective. See table for comparing different disinfectants and how to use them for concentrations and contact times. Disinfectants are designed to clean hard surfaces such as floors, metal or plastic cages or trays.
Wooden hutches will always be a challenge to fully disinfect as there are many cracks and crevices that can collect contagious material and they are difficult to clean and disinfect completely. Making sure the wooden hutch or frame of the run is as clean as possible before being meticulous and thoroughly wetting all surfaces and corners with a suitable disinfectant, left on for the longest recommended contact times, will help.
Steam cleaning may be useful after washing and before disinfection, to help get into the hard to reach areas. Never mix any disinfectant with other household chemicals or other disinfectants, as this may release harmful gases. Rinsing with plenty of water after the correct contact time is sensible to make the environment safe and pleasant for your rabbit again.
Disinfection is not recommended as part of routine care of your rabbit as it is not required and all the disinfectants have a strong smell. This can be unsettling for your rabbit and repeated exposure may irritate the delicate lining of the respiratory system (nose, sinuses and bronchi of the lungs). Cleaning removes the majority of disease causing pathogens.