Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cleaning Your Pet’s Dishes and Food Storage Containers

It is important for your pet’s health that you keep their food and water dishes clean. You should also periodically clean the container that their food is kept in. Food and water dishes should be cleaned daily and the water should be fresh every day to promote adequate water consumption. If something fouls your pet’s water they are less likely to drink water. While a pet can go several weeks without food, they will die after a few days without proper water intake. The food dishes can harbor fat particles that in time can become rancid if the dishes are not cleaned regularly.
While you or I may not be able to smell anything funny in their dishes, your pet will and may refuse to eat if their dishes aren’t clean enough for them. I wash my pets’ dishes everyday as well a making sure that they have clean water every day. I wash my pet food storage container once a week. I use stainless steel dishes, which are pretty easy to keep clean; but how do you clean some of the other surfaces like ceramic or plastic?
On ceramic dishes you can use a sponge with a scrubber side, but I would not recommend it for your plastic dishes, as the scrubbers on some of those sponges are strong enough to leave grooves in some plastic dishes, which in turn can harbor bacteria. So for the plastic, just use a regular sponge and elbow grease to get the dishes squeaky clean. Use a detergent that will take grease off dishes and make sure to check the dishes with your fingers after scrubbing. You would be amazed what you can find with your fingers, especially if you have a dish that is a color that hides dirt or grime.
You can probably wash some of your dishes in the dishwasher, but if you are using a plastic bowl with a weighted bottom, the heat and water in the dishwasher might soften the glue and make the bottom of the dish fall out of the base. I would check with your pet shop to make sure the bowls you are purchasing are dishwasher safe; if that is the way you choose to go. I like washing dishes the old-fashioned way, because I can feel any grease or grunge left on the dishes, even if I can’t see it.
As to washing the storage container, using a good sponge and elbow grease is my best advice. Here again you want to use a de-greasing detergent to get any old fat off the container’s sides, if you are just dumping the food from the bag directly into the storage container. After cleaning and rinsing, air dry if possible. If that isn’t an option, get an old towel and make sure that you dry your container (including the lid) thoroughly before you put the pet food back in.
If my container still has a bit of odor in it after I clean it, I use a tablespoon of baking soda mixed with about a cup of water and wipe the sides and top of the container with this mix. Then I rinse it very well and let it sit for a few hours to dry it out. Something I have been doing recently is leaving the food in the bags they came in and put them in the container.
I started doing this a while ago after a friend ended up with a storage container full of grain beetles (due to not cleaning regularly enough). Grain beetles will not hurt your pets, they are protein after all; but they will eat the food and lay eggs and you can end up with an infestation in your kitchen cabinets if you aren’t careful. I still completely wash the container after the food has been fed and the bag is discarded. There can still be fat in the container from food spillage or from handling that you may not be able to see.

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