The grime that builds up on grooming brushes and other tools is more than just unsightly; it may harbor bacteria and fungi that can cause a number of diseases. Any tools that come in contact with your horse or his wastes—including muck buckets, shovels, wheelbarrows and hoof picks—ought to be sanitized with a disinfectant periodically. It's especially important to sanitize any tools you've used caring for a sick horse. Here are the basic steps:
• Scrape or knock off any hair or caked-on dirt and debris.
• Clean with a squirt or two of dish or laundry detergent in a gallon or more of water. Scrub your grooming brushes against each other to remove all dirt; use scrub brushes on larger tools and buckets.
• Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
• For extra disinfection, soak the tools in a commercial sanitizer, such as phenol, quaternary ammonium, accelerated hydrogen peroxide or a peroxygen-based product, or a mild bleach solution for at least 10 minutes as recommended by your veterinarian. The type of disinfectant needed will vary with the targeted micro-organism and the surface of the material being cleaned. Read the labels for handling instructions and safety precautions; use rubber gloves and safety goggles to protect your skin and eyes.
• Rinse feed and water buckets thoroughly, making sure no soap or chemical residue remains.
• Set the items out in bright sunlight to dry—the ultraviolet light will kill more pathogens.