It's Time To Come Clean

We've discussed cleaning blades and clippers to extend their performance and operational life. Of course clean tools mean sanitary tools and less chance for cross-contamination. Speaking of which, how does the rest of your shop measure up?

Have you been lucky so far?

All it takes is one contaminated pooch to make a mess of your grooming business and if you've been so busy that you can't even take the time to yawn then you’re wide open to a "situation". A common groom shop scenario is to work your fingers to the bone all day, then sweep the floor and go home. It's a fact that blade and clipper maintenance fall victim to a full schedule, and just maybe general shop cleanliness does too.

It won't happen to you?

If it is unlikely that you will get a contaminated dog in your shop then you are truly blessed. If you rigorously inspect every dog before it enters your shop then good for you!

Do you know where that critter has been?

Even if your own shop is clean, can you be assured that everywhere else that animal has been is equally clean? If your clientele extends to "outdoor" dogs, farm dogs, or dogs that are allowed to run free, then you owe it to yourself and your clients to be extra diligent.

The value of an expensive education

Part of that expensive pet grooming course you took covered health issues and intra-animal contamination (remember?). If you are a self-taught groomer or lack accredited pet groomer training your grooming business could be at risk just because you are unaware of some harsh and unpleasant realities. It would be a great idea to get some real and useful educational material because there’s a whole bunch of stuff that’s covered in school that you may not have thought of on your own. Whether or not you have accredited pet groomer training, it is also way cool to interact with other groomers and a great way to do that is join an association such as CPGAM. While you're on the CPGAM website, check out their links.

If you are pretty much grooming show dogs or cutesy companion animals then it is unlikely that you will be exposed to an infectious situation. Still, a little caution would be advisable since the parasites listed below will also embrace a human host (meaning you). As a professional pet groomer you should be able to identify the following pests.

Lice: (can infest dogs and cats)

Color: Yellow, Red, Grey
Adult Size: 1.5mm to 2mm in length
Found under mats of hair, around ears and body openings.
Eggs or nits are white specks attached to hairs.
Transmitted by direct animal to animal contact contaminated tools and/or surfaces, blankets or pens.

Fleas: (can infest dogs and cats)

Color: Medium to dark brown
Adult Size: 1mm to 2mm in length
Found on skin or hair. When disturbed, they hop. Eggs can be anywhere the infested animal has been.
Transmitted by direct animal to animal contact or by contaminated tools and/or surfaces, blankets, cages.

Mites: (can infest dogs and cats)

Adult Size: .3mm to .5mm (may require magnification)
Ear Mites: Infection is mostly inside the ears but they can be found on any part of the animal.
Mange Mites: Rash usually occurs on earflaps, elbows, and/or belly.
Transmitted by direct animal to animal contact or by contaminated tools and/or surfaces.

Ringworm: (rare in dogs, may infest cats)

Real risk to groomers and owners! Transmitted by direct contact or by contaminated tools and/or surfaces.

Many infested or infected animals appear normal. If you discover or suspect a contaminated or infected animal then it would be way cool to activate your contingency plan, or refuse to accept the infested animal.In any case it's your duty to advise the owner of the animal and urge them to contact their friendly neighborhood veterinarian.

First step is getting organized

A small workspace is no excuse for clutter. An organized shop looks clean even if it isn't and it's a nicer place to work in too. It's easier to keep an organized shop clean. If you are at a loss for ideas or you are just plain disorganized, how about checking out some hair salons in your area? Hair salon workstations are small and functional. Each workstation gets cleaned after each haircut.

In the grooming business hair is a fact of life and it gets everywhere. If you set up your shop in such a way that there are few places for hair to accumulate then cleanup will be easier.

If you don't need certain equipment or supplies all the time then how about keeping them in a closed cabinet where they won't attract and collect hair? Also if there's anything in your shop that is not relevant to your day-to-day work, why keep it in your shop? If you don't need a fixed counter for your tools why not consider a roll-away unit?

If you haven't assigned a place for everything then maybe it’s time you did. Oh yeah, just assigning a place for everything isn't enough. You have to put everything in its rightful place for the whole thing to work.

You have to make the time

Some groom shops are admirably clean while others are just gross, and it's simply because some groom shops allocate time for cleaning while others don't. Cleaning doesn't have to be elaborate and time consuming but it does have to be part of your daily routine. That doesn't mean that you have to do a major clean up after every dog, but some planning and a change to your routine with cleanliness in mind would cost you just a little time.


Scissors, and blades can be wiped with anti-bacterial blade cleaner after each dog. De-matting tools, combs, and brushes can all be stored in a tray or jar containing Barbicide, Marvicide or anti-bacterial blade cleaner. Since Barbicide and Marvicide contain water, use them only for tools made of non-ferrous material. If you can justify the cost you can get yourself an ultra-violet sterilization unit like the ones in the skin care shops.


Grooming tables, restraints, pens, and washtubs could all use a disinfectant wipe after each dog.


At the end of the day (or the beginning), the floor of your groom shop should be swept clean and thoroughly washed with disinfectant.


What if you discover too late that you have a contaminated (or infectious) dog on your hands? Have you got a contingency plan? Now is the time to work out your disaster plan before a real disaster strikes.

On the other hand if you can handle being labeled as the “Typhoid Mary” of pet grooming then good luck to you.

Suggested disinfectants:

The suggested products below are proven disinfectants. There are many other good products available. Before you settle on any disinfectant I urge you to follow this link:

Anti-bacterial blade cleaner

Designed to be used on clipper blades it is also effective on other grooming tools. You can get it from me.


A one-step cleaner, deodorizer & disinfectant that kills the broadest spectrum of animal pathogens (viruses, bacteria and fungi) in the industry. It's made with safety in mind for both animals and humans. There's no rinsing required! Available from pet suppliers.

Virkon® S

Effective against 61 different strains of virus, (representing all of the viral families), 397 different strains of bacteria, and 102 different strains of fungi. Virkon® S is able to completely inactivate parvovirus. Available from Veterinary suppliers.

Kennel Klean / Kennel Pro

Kills HIV-1 and HBV, Tuberculocidal Activity, Bactericidal Activity & Virucidal Activity, Canine Parvovirus, Poliovirus Type 1 and Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) when used as directed. Available from Pet Suppliers.


A multi-purpose germicidal cleaner with a wide range germ and virus kill spectrum. A one-step cleaning, disinfecting and deodorizing treatment. Effective against bacteria and fungus plus Canine Parvovoirus, distemper, Rabies, Feline Leukemia and much more. Get it from pet suppliers, or professional cleaners.

Barbicide / Marvicide

For easy and safe disinfection of shears, blades and other shop tools. Available from pet suppliers, or hairdressing suppliers.

Is it my imagination, or do buffalo wings taste like chicken?

See Also: Dippity Doo Dah!

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Winnipeg, MB, R3J 2T6

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