If you’re a dog owner, you know how important it is to keep your furry friend healthy and safe. Canine parvovirus is one of the most dangerous viruses for dogs, especially puppies and unvaccinated dogs.
This highly contagious disease can be spread through fomites, making it challenging to eradicate. That’s why disinfecting and cleaning are crucial steps in preventing the spread of parvo.
Steam cleaning has become popular for removing dirt and grime from carpets, floors, and other surfaces. But does steam cleaning kill parvo? Let’s jump right in and find out.
Does Steam Cleaning Kill Parvo?
Steam cleaning at temperatures above 212°F (100°C) for at least 10 minutes effectively eliminates Parvo virus from non porous surfaces, soft furnishings, carpets, and bedding.
The high temperatures generated by steam cleaners can kill the virus, which is known for its resilience and persistence in the environment. There is a caveat here, and that is the temperature of the steam as it hits the ambient air.
Steam temperatures can drastically drop to well under 212°F in cooler environments. I highly recommend using a combination of Parvovirus killing disinfectants, then steam cleaning to for a higher likeliness of complete eradication.
I’ll explain this further, as I write.
What Temperature Kills Parvo?
To ensure you properly disinfect your home and prevent the spread of parvovirus, it’s important to know the temperature at which steam can eliminate the virus. According to studies, steam cleaning at a temperature of 212°F (100°C) for at least 10 minutes can kill Parvovirus on non-porous surfaces.
In Australia, most veterinary clinics recommend temperatures between 130°C and 140°C to kill Canine Parvovirus effectively.
If you don’t have a steam cleaner, I recommend looking for one that heats the water well above boiling point and can reach and maintain hotter temperatures. This is usually a commercial steam cleaner.
How Does Steam Kill Parvo?
This high temperature denatures the virus’s protein structure, rendering it inactive and unable to infect other dogs.
It is important to note that steam cleaning may not be effective in completely eliminating parvo from porous surfaces such as carpets or upholstery.
These materials may trap organic matter like feces or vomit, making it difficult for steam to penetrate and effectively disinfect them. This is why I recommend using both a Parvovirus disinfectant, followed by your steam cleaner.
Will a Steam Mop Kill Parvo?
You can use a steam mop to sanitize hard, non-porous surfaces like tile flooring where parvovirus may be present. Tiles can withstand steam for prolonged periods of time.
I would be hesitant to use a steam mop on timber or hardwood flooring. Holding the steam mop in one place is not recommended for wood floors, and you may cause damage. If you want to use your steam mop on your timber floor, mop the floor with a Parvovirus disinfectant first. Then follow up with your steam mop.
Do not put the disinfectant in your steam mop or steam cleaner.
Steam mops are not recommended on vinyl, LVP, and some laminates, please use with caution on these flooring types.
It is also recommended that you allow the surface to dry naturally before allowing pets back into the area.
What Cleaners Kill Parvovirus?
When it comes to choosing a cleaner to use against Parvovirus, it’s essential to select one that has been proven effective against non-enveloped viruses like parvo.
Some disinfectants that have been found effective include:
- Bleach – such as Clorox
- Potassium peroxymonosulfate – chlorine free pool and spa cleaners, Virkon (formerly called Trifectant)
- Accelerated hydrogen peroxide (AHP) disinfectant – such as REScue.
What I like about REScue is you can make a stronger solution (1:16 vs 1:32) and leave it for 5 minutes, instead of 10 minutes. You could make a stronger bleach solution as well if you prefer.
Not all cleaners are reliable in killing this virus. Quaternary ammonium disinfectant is known to be ineffective against Parvovirus, as confirmed by the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.
How Do I Clean My Carpet After Parvo?
The University of Wisonsin advises accelerated hydrogen peroxide is better at cleaning organic materials (vomit, feces etc) than bleach. They also state REScue can be used on carpet, in carpet cleaning machines (not steam cleaners).
This depends however, on the type of carpet you have, the color, and whether it can be to be steam cleaned with hot water. This is where you will need to check with your carpet manufacturer, or if unsure, test in a tiny inconspicuous area first.
If you have a steam vacuum, upholstery cleaner or wet shop vac, you could use any of these machines to suck water out of your carpet after disinfecting.
How Do I Clean My Steam Vac After Cleaning Parvo?
If your steam vac has been used to clean up after a case of parvo, it’s important to properly disinfect the machine before using it again.
Soak Your Attachments
Make up a disinfectant solution in a big enough bucket to soak any of your steam vac attachments used. Leave soaking in the disinfectant solution for at least 10 minutes (depending on the strength).
Vacuum Up Clean Water and Disinfectant
Empty out the dirty water tank of your steam vac. Put it back into your steam vac without water. Turning on the vacuum, suck up some of the clean disinfectant water from your bucket. This will help to disinfect your steamer hose and inside the machine.
Disinfect Your Dirty Water Tank
Fill your dirty water tank with clean water and disinfectant. Allow to sit and soak for at least 10 minutes. Empty out the water and allow to air dry in the sun.
What About Outdoor Areas?
According to Ohio State University, in conjunction with the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, it is nearly impossible to disinfect outdoor surfaces such as grass, dirt, and gravel. They suggest covering the contaminated area with new materials can help reduce the risk of infection.
It is best to keep such areas unused by dogs susceptible to Parvovirus for an extended period until the virus naturally dies off, which can take up to 7 months. Sunlight can help speed up the process of killing the virus.
It is crucial to take these measures to ensure the safety of your pets and reduce the risk of Parvovirus infection in the future. Once your dog has been fully vaccinated against Canine Parvovirus (allow 2 weeks post-last vaccination), it can access the outdoor area without risk.
If you’re dealing with a Parvo outbreak in your home, it’s crucial to use multiple methods of disinfection and follow proper protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.
This includes using EPA-approved cleaners and disinfectants specifically designed to kill Canine Parvovirusand following guidelines for properly cleaning and disposing of contaminated materials.
While steam cleaning can be a helpful tool in fighting against Parvo, if you have a lower temperature steam mop, handheld steam cleaner or basic steam cleaner that heats to boiling point only, I would not rely on this method alone.
The effectiveness of steam cleaning depends on various factors such as the temperature and duration of exposure, as well as the type of surface being cleaned.
Remember that prevention through vaccination is always the best way to protect dogs from parvovirus.