Put Down That Bleach!

Scrubbing feed and water tubs

(I know I haven't been posting much lately, so here's a quick post while I start working on some new stuff...)

I’ve been experimenting with a good old-fashioned natural household cleaner/disinfectant that works better, is cheaper and is safe even if you leave some behind in the buckets. 

It’s vinegar.  Plain old distilled white vinegar that I buy in the giant size at the supermarket.  I figured that, since it works so well for bathrooms and kitchens, is recommended for cleaning fruits and veggies, and can actually be ingested on purpose, this might be the way to go.

I normally mix up individual feeds for the horses in 8 qt pails in the feed room and then dump those into the feed buckets in their stalls.  After a few days, these can get pretty nasty with feed residue, supplements and, in particular oil (I feed a liquid vitamin E supplement as well as pure wheat germ oil for some of the horses.)  Even when it was warm out and I was rinsing them daily, I could never seem to get the gunge out of them.  So, once a week I’d get out the antibacterial dish soap and scrub them. 

They still never got very clean, it took forever to rinse and I worried about leaving soap residue that might get mixed with feed.  Plus, the stuff is expensive!

So a few days ago I tried the vinegar.  Just a splash in the bottom of each bucket (I didn’t measure, but probably 1/4 to 1/2 cup) and then I filled each to the top with water and let them stand a few minutes.  Within seconds I could already see the gross stuff lifting away from the sides of the buckets and with a quick swish of the bucket brush, they were clean.  I dumped them, rinsed them quick and they’re good as new.  And the vinegar not only cuts through all kinds of residue to get surfaces clean, it also disinfects and inhibits bacteria and mold growth safely.

We’ve also got hard water at the farm and nothing seems to get rid of the stains in the automatic waterer bowls.  But since vinegar is recommended for cleaning coffee makers and sinks, etc. with mineral build-up, I thought I’d give this a try too.  I’m happy to say it works great!  In this case, I used the vinegar undiluted in a spray bottle and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping out and rinsing.  Much easier than getting out the steel wool and working up a sweat!  If you need extra help, adding salt and/or baking soda is usually all you need. 

The same also works on the slimy algae that builds up in troughs over time.  Usually people recommend using chlorine bleach not only to scrub the troughs, but actually recommend deliberately dumping some into the drinking water to keep it clean.  I can’t help it, but this just sounds like a bad idea to me.  We’ve got automatic waterers in the paddocks as well, so I haven’t tried it, but I’m guessing a little vinegar in the water will help slow the growth of slimy stuff and not be as offensive (or toxic) to the horses.  I have found that horses love the smell and even the taste of cider vinegar, so if you are worried about the horses not drinking with white vinegar, cider vinegar works the same and might be a good choice.  If anyone has tried this, let me know how it works and how much you need....

Stable Managementjm elliott