Molnar, D. L., Vernasco Price, E. J. 2023. Use of a toy soak to maximize staff efficiency in cage wash operations. Laboratory Animal Science Professional 11(2) (March/April), 40-41.

The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals emphasizes that the primary aim of environmental enrichment is to enhance animal well-being. At our facility, at the end of a two-week cycle in a rodent cage, enrichment accessories and toys are excessively soiled and not adequately cleaned and disinfected when sent through the automated washers only. Often such items are sent through the automated washers multiple times to ensure they are adequately cleaned and disinfected. The extra work this creates results in cagewash staff struggling, interrupts their workflow, and makes it difficult to get all other caging and accessories processed in an 8-hour shift. The aim of this work was to train cagewash staff to consistently collect and pre-soak enrichment items for 30 minutes before going through the automated washer and to assess sanitation effectiveness by visual inspection or ATP testing after wash. A direct comparison was done using the same type of dirty enrichment accessories for both mice and rats that were ATP tested, pre-soaked in the enzymatic toy soak cleaner sent through the automated washer, then ATP tested on cleanside. The toy soak has helped establish appropriate sanitation practices that align with the regulatory guidance to ensure animal well-being and prevention of cross-contamination of both USDA and non-USDA enrichment accessories. The items are placed back into circulation more quickly and with confidence that animal well-being is maintained with effective sanitation practices that are routinely evaluated.

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