Boot Cleaning and Disinfection


Boot Cleaning Station

Visible organic material should be removed from the boots using water and a brush over a well-drained area. An option is to use a boot cleaning station (as pictured right) in which a hose is hooked up to a brush.

Boots should then be disinfected by soaking in a clean bath of an appropriate disinfectant using label recommendations for dilution rate and exposure time. Disinfectants should be selected based on on-farm efficacy, cost, ease of use, and environmental friendliness.

Disposable Boots

Disposable boots work well if boots are only needed for brief time periods.

Basis for Recommendations

Farm personnel use boot baths with the goal of preventing mechanical transmission of pathogens among groups of pigs. However, boot bath maintenance on most facilities is poor, and frequently boot baths are grossly contaminated with organic matter. People commonly avoid stepping into boot baths or simply step through the bath without stopping to clean their boots.

We recently evaluated Cidex Formula 7*, Nolvasan®, Chlorox®, Betadine Solution, 1Stroke Environ®, and Roccal-D Plus utilizing various boot bath protocols. Basic principles of proper boot bath use learned from these experiments include:

  • Scrubbing visible manure off in a water bath is as efficacious as scrubbing manure off in a bath of the disinfectants tested as far as reducing bacterial counts. However, scrubbing manure off in a bath of disinfectant will contaminate the disinfectant and render the boot bath unusable. Although not tested, detergents may make manure removal easier.
  • Scrubbing off manure in a clean disinfectant boot bath (1Stroke Environ®) reduces the bacterial count more than scrubbing boots in a contaminated boot bath.
    Aerobic Bacterial Counts Graph Figure 1. Aerobic bacterial counts per 75 mm2 area of boot sampled when a boot is contaminated with swine manure and then a boot bath is not used (None) or boots are scrubbed for 30 seconds in a newly prepared boot bath (Clean), a boot bath that has been used once to clean dirty boots (Used 1X), a boot bath that has been used five times to clean dirty boots (Used 5X), or a boot bath that has been used ten times to clean dirty boots (Used 10X).
  • Boots that have been scrubbed free of manure and then soaked in Roccal-D Plus for 5 or more minutes meet the standard for disinfection.

In a separate study, the efficacy of Virkon®S as a boot bath disinfectant was examined. Results were similar in that stepping through or standing in Virkon®S without removing organic material first did not disinfect boots. However, removal of visible manure using a hose or brush and then dipping clean boots in a boot bath of 1% Virkon®S was effective.

Time constraints make proper use of boot baths within production units difficult. However, spending time and money to implement boot bath procedures on a farm without using them correctly is a waste of resources. Although going through the motions of stepping in a boot bath has benefits of increasing employee awareness of biosecurity and maintaining a clean workplace, this insufficient biosecurity measure as tested in this study may place the pigs at risk for infection because contaminated boots are being used by personnel.


Amass SF, Vyverberg BD, Ragland D, Dowell CA, Anderson CD, Stover JH, Beaudry DJ. Evaluating the efficacy of boot baths in biosecurity protocols. Swine Health and Production. 2000;8(4):169-173.

Amass SF, Ragland D, Spicer P. Evaluation of the efficacy of a peroxygen compound, Virkon S, as a boot bath disinfectant. Swine Health and Production. 2001;9(3):121-123.