Step into biosecurity with clean and disinfected boots

Keeping your livestock safe from microbes, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, is the biosecurity goal that all farms should have. Wearing clean, sanitized footwear helps meet this goal as foot traffic moves microbes to and around the farm. Help visitors and those who work on the farm know the paths for limiting the spread of microbes between animal groups by posting signs to designate all entrances, parking, and travel routes. Limit animal contact by visitors; both visitors and personnel should wear clean clothing and boots in animal contact areas.

All footwear should be cleaned and disinfected before entering and after contacting animal areas. To make it easier to accomplish, maintain boot wash/disinfection stations by providing water, buckets, a brush, soap, and disinfectant at animal area entrances and exits. Begin by rinsing with water to remove all debris while paying special attention to remove everything packed into the sole’s tread. Next, scrub the cleaned footwear with soap and water while following the product’s label directions for dilution rate, water temperature, and water hardness.. The soap acts to remove remaining debris and microbes. The desired outcome is to disinfect a clean surface, not to disinfect dirt. Follow soap washing with clean water rinsing as disinfectants are inactivated by soap residue.

Figure 1: Applying water with a nozzle is helpful for removing debris from threads, but this can also be accomplished using a bucket of clean water and a brush.
Figure 2: Pay special attention to scrubbing the threads with soap and water to remove all debris.

Finally, apply the disinfectant as the label directs and for the contact time as indicated by the product label. Contact time is the amount of time the disinfectant needs to remain in contact with microbes to kill them. Contact times range from 3-10 minutes depending on the product.  It takes time for disinfectants to work and not adhering to that time only serves to put any remaining microbes in solution, increasing the ability of spreading them around as you walk. If disinfectant is applied in a boot bath, make sure to start every day with a fresh solution and to change it when it becomes visibly dirty during the day.

To learn more about cleaning and disinfection, and resources for helping you select disinfectants, visit The Center for Food Security & Public Health.