Using UV Light to Sanitize Grooming Tools

Using UV Light to Sanitize Grooming Tools

The one good thing about the COVID-19 pandemic is that most of us are a little more conscious of preventing the spread of germs. In the pet grooming environment, we are concerned with preventing the spread of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that might be transmittable between the pets we groom. 

Some groomers have taken advantage of using UV light sanitizers to keep their hand tools clean. UV light is one of the components of sunlight, and when concentrated in the right wavelength for the correct period of time, it is very effective in killing germs without heat. Studies show that this sanitizing method can be 99% or more effective in eradicating germs when used correctly.Investing in a cabinet-style UV sanitizer can be one good step in the anti-yuck battle. 

How does UV light work? "When emitted at certain wavelengths and for specific amounts of time, UVC light can damage the genetic material -DNA or RNA- in bacteria and viruses, inhibiting their ability to replicate and, in turn, causing their normal cellular function to break down." Chris Olson, microbiologist.

Here are some things to know if you want to incorporate UV sanitization into your regular cleaning routine: 

  • When shopping for a UV unit, pay attention to the wavelength offered. Between 200-300 nm is effective in killing most organisms.
  • Check the manufacturer's instructions for how long items should be exposed to the light.
  • Tools must be free of dirt, dust, dander, fur, and the like so the light can penetrate to the surface of the tool. This means cleaning them with soap and water or some other method to remove organic material from the tools before the light becomes effective.
  • Only the surfaces of the tool where the light can reach will be sanitized. For example, scissors must be open to expose the blade surfaces, and clipper blades should have the top cutting blade slid to one side. A second cycle should be used with the blade moved to the opposite side so all areas are available for the light to do its job.
  • Look for units that illuminate from all directions, not just the top.
  • UV light is safe to use on metal, wood, and plastic. You can even pop your cell phone in to sanitize it.
  • Remember that anything blocking the light or creating a shadow will make the light ineffective at killing pathogens that the light cannot reach. 
    It can be comforting to have UV light technology available as part of our arsenal of weapons when it comes time to battle bacteria, viruses, and fungi in our grooming environment. 

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Daryl Conner, MPS Meritus, CMCG has been devoted to making dogs and cats more comfortable and beautiful for 40 years.  You can find her happily working at FairWinds Grooming Studio with her daughter or typing away at her latest grooming-related article. Daryl was awarded both a Cardinal Crystal Award and Barkleigh Honors Award for journalism.  She shares her meadow-hugged antique Maine farmhouse with her practically perfect husband and a lot of animals.