Effectiveness of a steam cleaning unit for disinfection in a veterinary hospital

Am J Vet Res. 2014 Dec;75(12):1083-8. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.75.12.1083.


Objective: To evaluate whether the application of steam to a variety of surface types in a veterinary hospital would effectively reduce the number of bacteria.

Sample: 5 surface types.

Procedures: Steam was applied as a surface treatment for disinfection to 18 test sites of 5 surface types in a veterinary hospital. A pretreatment sample was obtained by collection of a swab specimen from the left side of each defined test surface. Steam disinfection was performed on the right side of each test surface, and a posttreatment sample was then collected in the same manner from the treated (right) side of each test surface. Total bacteria for pretreatment and posttreatment samples were quantified by heterotrophic plate counts and for Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas spp, and total coliforms by counts on selective media.

Results: Significant reductions were observed in heterotrophic plate counts after steam application to dog runs and dog kennel floors. A significant reduction in counts of Pseudomonas spp was observed after steam application to tub sinks. Bacterial counts were reduced, but not significantly, on most other test surfaces that had adequate pretreatment counts for quantification.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Development of health-care-associated infections is of increasing concern in human and veterinary medicine. The application of steam significantly reduced bacterial numbers on a variety of surfaces within a veterinary facility. Steam disinfection may prove to be an alternative or adjunct to chemical disinfection within veterinary practices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria*
  • Bacterial Load / physiology
  • Disinfection*
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Hospitals, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Steam*


  • Steam