Guidance for Sanitation/Disinfection of Researcher-Maintained Animal Equipment


To provide guidance to investigators for the cleaning/sanitizing of research animal equipment (e.g., treadmills, rotarods, operant chambers, mazes, restraint devices, anesthesia induction chambers, etc.) that are used in the lab or procedure rooms and not routinely sanitized in the cagewash.


  1. Cleaning/sanitizing in a mechanical cage washer using hot water (143o – 180o F) and appropriate cleaning agents is the preferred method for all research animal equipment, if practical.
  2. Equipment that cannot be cleaned/sanitized in a mechanical cage washer may be cleaned/sanitized by hand with hot water (143o – 180o F), cleaning agents, and/or chemical disinfectants.  The preferred method is to immerse all items in the cleaning solution, followed by a thorough rinse to remove residual chemicals.
  3. Animal equipment items that cannot be immersed may be cleaned/sanitized by hand by:
    1. Vacuuming and/or wiping down all animal contact surfaces with a wet cloth/sponge to remove soil, hair, dander, etc. If a vacuum is used it should be HEPA filtered to minimize exposure to allergens; and
    2. Spraying/misting all animal contact surfaces with an approved disinfectant cleaner (see below). Disinfectants must be used according to manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure appropriate dilution and contact time for disinfection. Personnel must follow manufacturer’s safety procedures when using disinfectants.
  4. Animal equipment should be cleaned after each day of use as a minimum or after each use if the equipment becomes visibly soiled/contaminated. A log should be maintained for each item of equipment that shows the day(s) it was used and when it was cleaned.
  5. Periodic quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) testing (e.g., ATP swabs, luminometer, bacterial cultures using RODAC places) is recommended to validate the effectiveness of each cleaning/sanitation regimen.  UCI veterinary staff can assist researchers with this testing.  Periodic QA/QC testing should be recorded and documented; revalidation is required if there is a change in the cleaning/sanitation regimen.

Recommended Disinfecting Agents:

  • Virkon is available in all ULAR-managed vivaria, pre-mixed in spray bottles.
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (i.e., CavicideTM, QuatricideTM).
  • Chlorine Compounds (i.e., 10% bleach made fresh daily, MB-10, Clidox). Note that chlorine compounds can be corrosive to metals.
  • Alcohol, while not an effective sterilant, is acceptable for some applications (i.e., isopropyl alcohol, Sani Cloth wipes, 70% ethanol). Note that alcohols are not effective against non-enveloped viruses or bacterial spores. Surfaces must be saturated and allowed to air dry.