Our yard is, by far, the most challenging location to disinfect and kill the canine parvo virus (or any virus for that matter). Not because there aren’t products that work on organic matter, but the nature of grass, plants, dirt, landscaping stones and mulch beds is: nooks, crannies and layers.
So instead of a nice smooth surface that’s easy to disinfect (like a counter top), we’re dealing with an intricate, labyrinthine type surface and that presents some challenges when trying to meet the technical requirements of “Disinfecting.” Because in order to truly disinfect (KILL) a virus or bacteria, we need a certain amount of Contact Time, by which the product MUST stay wet and on the virus for X amount of time in order to kill it. In most cases, that contact time is between 5 and 10 minutes and varies product to product. .
That’s what we’re diving into today. How on earth do we achieve any level of “disinfection” on organic surfaces that are not hard and solid. Here is what we’ll cover:
- The 4 Main Challenges of Trying to Kill Parvo in a Yard
- Why Most Products That Kill Parvo Fail in Yards
- 2 Products that Will Help Kill Parvo Your Yard
- Tips for Using Products that Killing Parvo on Organics
4 Challenges When Trying to Rid a Yard of Parvo
#1 – Disinfecting Parvo on Vertical Surfaces (AKA: Grass)
What happens if you spray your grass with a garden hose, turn it off, and return after 10 minutes? Anyone who’s every watered their lawn knows that the recently watered grass will be moist near the roots, but the blades of grass are completely dry. That’s because the water rolled down each blade.
Therefore, it’s easy to see that getting a product to stay in contact on vertical surfaces for 10 minutes is nearly impossible. And that’s the first reason cleaning parvo in yards is challenging.
We’ll go over a few things you can do to combat the verticle challenge in the next section but let’s touch upon the second reason it’s so hard to kill parvo in a yard.
#2 – Killing Parvo on Hard Surface Vs. Porous Surface
The second challenge for killing parvo in a yard is that the surface area of a lawn is not hard and solid, but it’s rather soft, pocketed, and porous. If you saturate a mulch bed or rock bed with a garden hose, it may look absolutely soaking wet. But it’s not. You’ll notice if you turn over a few pieces of mulch or rocks, (even after a thorough soaking) they might be perfectly dry on the underside.
So if your dog defecated or vomited and shed the parvo particles in grass, mulch, rocks, weeds, hay and did some burying action with their hind legs, their liquid feces or vomit surely made its way into the underside crevices which create a protective hiding place when trying to clean parvo in the yard. You spray the disinfectant, but some of the viral particles that found their way into crevices, never get touched.
#3 – Overwhelming Size of Area
The third challenge when disinfecting a parvo laden yard is the shear mass and size of job. It’s one thing to clean water bowls, concrete slabs, and kennels, but quite another once the job moves across the vegetation of a lawn or yard.
Some of you are trying to clean parvo in a small isolated area while others are looking at a yard the size of a football field. Later on, we’ll get into tips for addressing both.
#4 – Product Efficacy in the Face of Organic Material
The final challenge is the reality that most disinfectants lose their effectiveness in the presence of organics. Grass, dirt, soil, mulch, weeds, plants they are all organic material and therefore you need products that don’t degrade when they come into contact with organics.
Which products can’t stand up to organic material? Lots, but I’ll give you two examples here:
- Clorox Bleach
- Wysiwash Sanitize
Chlorine Bleach: One example of what not to use on organics is: Chlorine Bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite). Pick up a quality bleach like Clorox and you’ll see on the label that it can kill canine parvo in 10 minutes, but the problem with bleach on yards is two-fold:
- It will likely kill or fade everything living
- Bleach loses it’s power to kill powerful viruses and pathogens when used on organic materials.
Wysiwash: Wysiwash is one of the products we recommend to high-turnover dog facilities such as kennels and boarding places that have daily disinfectant requirements. We recommend it for killing parvo in high turnover areas because it’s easy to use, costs pennies a gallon and bonus: kills parvo virus in about 2 minutes and it also kills canine distemper.
It works wonders outside on concrete, patios, decks, slabs, swing-sets, artificial turf, low pile dog carpets: things likely to be used in kennels and boarding facilities. If this is what you’re looking to clean in your yard, definitely check out Wysiwash for yourself here: (link to product).
As great as this product is for big outdoor jobs, it’s another example of a parvo killer that will NOT stand up to organic material like grass and dirt. Let’s learn why.
Why Products Don’t Stand Up to Organics
One of our favorite things to during product research is to call manufacturers and distributors and have an actual conversation. Today, we just had a great conversation with a guy named Larry at Wysiwash.
To be honest, I already knew the answer to the question, but I called anyway because people who manufacture or distribute these disinfectants have a great way of explaining why products fall short…and in this case, we’re talking about why products like Wysiwash shouldn’t be counted on to kill parvo on grass and soil (organics).
Larry put it this way: The killing ingredient in products like Clorox and Wysiwash is indiscriminate. In finds whatever organism that isn’t “it” and latches on or engulfs it for killing. And as it kills things, it doesn’t become stronger, it dies itself.
Now imagine all the organisms that are in living in grass, brush, soil, mulch and plant beds. As soon as a product like bleach or Wysiwash comes into contact with these elements, it is overwhelmed with millions of things to kill and attack and loses it’s power. And with all that killing of millions of non-harmful organisms, it certainly doesn’t have enough juice to take on canine parvo for the full 10 minutes.
Products that Kill Parvo and Do NOT Lose Effectiveness on Organic Materials
If you’re like me, you want a product that is 100% safe for you, your dog, your kids, the environment and oh yeah: cheap. Unfortunatley in this case, we will not be able to have our cake and eat it to. While we recommend both products, here is where it’s all up to you. You’ll have to make a decision between:
A ready to use, higher priced product that’s safe enough for dog paws or
A product that goes a long, long way, requires mixing and involves a bit more safe handling and precautions around animals and humans (not too bad).
Let’s get into the products and their details
Dog Fur and Paw Friendly Parvo Killer
Sniper Hospital Disinfectant
Yes, Sniper (link to product) is used in hospitals and that should give you some indication of it’s human and environmentally friendliness. It kills Staph, MRSA, HIV, Hepatitis, Legionairres, and of course, canine parvo. It can be safely used in ventilation systems and broadcast via find mist without issue.
Sniper kills parvo after 10 minutes of contact time and maintains effectiveness in the face of organics. Sniper is safe for dogs, humans, birds and is often used directly on animal fur at full strength to do things like “deskunk” and you can also wash your hands with Sniper. That’s how friendly it is.
The active ingredient in Sniper that kills parvo: Chlorine Dioxide
What is Chlorine Dioxide?
Chlorine Dioxide (ClO2) is a highly effective biocide. It is a selective oxidant that eliminates a wide variety of species such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
Chlorine Dioxide is different than chlorine bleach in that it is SELECTIVE and can distinguish between friendly organisms (like plants and soil) and harmful organisms like canine parvo and hepatitis.
It’s non-corrosive, non flammable, and has the lowest environmental impact allowed by the EPA. It comes ready to use, and you do NOT dilute to kill parvo.
Virkon-S (link to product) kills canine parvo and is effective in the face of organics. In fact it’s used in the poultry industry to disinfect commercial coops and can even be used in sprayers. While Virkon-S is labeled to be safe in the presence of animals at a 200% dilution, that dilution is not appropriate for killing canine parvo.
In order to kill canine parvo, we dilute Virkon at a 1% That being said, animals have to be removed and the area must be dry before reintroducting. In my opinion, I would do this anyway. I wouldn’t spray any disinfectant all over my yard and then let kids or pets run through it (even if was safe).
Virkon-S looks like pink chlorine powder or chlorine tabs but it’s not (which is why it stands up to organics). It’s active ingredient is Sodium Peroxymonosulfate and it kills canine parvovirus and many other things such as Foot and Mouth, Avian Flu, Salmonella. It is commonly used in agriculture to kill the bacteria and viruses that harm livestock.
Virkon-S Advertised Statements
- Powerful – independently proven effective against viral, bacterial and fungal disease causing organisms
- Fast acting – a 1% solution is independently proven to kill bacteria and fungi with contact times as low as 5 minutes and the tough to kill parvovirus in 10 minutes or less
- Broad Spectrum Control – surface, equipment, skin* & aerial disinfection
- Independently proven effective on porous surfaces, in hard water, at low temperatures and in the presence of organic challenge
- An environmentally acceptable product with an exceptional safety profile towards man and animals when used and disposed of as instructed on the label
- Selected by the experts – recommended and used by Government Agencies throughout the world
5 Tips for Killing Parvo in Yards
#1 – Maximize Direct Sunlight
Like most viruses, studies show that the canine parvovirus lives longest in moist, shaded areas and has the shortest lifespan in hot, dry, direct sunlight. Therefore, it’s in our best interest to get the environment on our side working with us instead of against us.
And while you can’t rotate your yard to allow direct sunlight you probably have some shaded areas that can be easily changed to sunny. Take a good look at the yard you need to disinfect at various points of the day and determine everything that’s casting shadows.
If you’ve got any of the following items throwing shade, remove them when trying to kill parvovirus:
- Umbrellas or Other Temporary Shade Structures
- Overhanging Limbs
- Overgrown brush or plants (tie skinny or prune)
- Cars, Boats, RV’s
- Chairs, Picnic Tables, Furniture, Grills
- Trellis’s, Arbors, Birdbaths
These little changes from shade to sun can reduce the average lifespan of the parvo virus by as much as a year.
#2 – Stop Irrigation During Parvo Killing
If you’ve got automated sprinkler systems turn them off while you go through the disinfection process. Remember, a sun-baked lawn is a miserable place for the parvovirus and a wet lawn is happy place for parvo. Keep your lawn hot and dry.
#3 – Use Parvo Killers that Don’t Lose Effectiveness on Organic Material
We learned that Sodium Hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) products lose their ability to kill when they combine with organics and now well cover the products that stand up to them.
Tips for Using Your Choice Parvo Killer
Start in Ideal Conditions
Time of Day: Ideally begin on dry grass after the morning dew has evaporated.
Sunny Forecast: Be sure it’s not raining or going to be raining the day you use your product.
Rocks and Mulch Bed Tips
Saturate the area and keep it wet with the product for the appropriate contact time twice. Rake the mulch or shovel the stones to turn them over and repeat the disinfection process 2 more times. Rake or shovel a third time and repeat the disinfection process 2 final times.
When all is said and done, your rock or mulch bed would have been disinfected a total of 6 times, and turned a total of 3.
You can do more for good measure, but do not do less.
Summary – Killing Parvo in Yards
The job ahead is challenging but not impossible and now you are in a better position for achieving success.
Remember the challenges posed by crevices and remember to turn mulch, rocks and soil.
Remember the challenges of vertical disinfection and how it relates to contact time. Set a timer and keep them wet the entire time.
Do not get discouraged when dealing with big areas. Stay focused and determined. Take it section by section. Anytime we get demoralized by the thought of a huge undertaking it’s helpful to thing of this:
How does one eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Here are the helpful products links for easy access one last time. Use them to check current pricing and availability:
Pump Sprayer with Fan Spray Nozzle
Other Helpful In-House Articles:
- Lanxess Energizing Chemistry
- GE Restoration