Where/how do you wash your enclosures, accessories, and the reptiles themselves?

Where do you wash your enclosures, tank decor, water bowls, etc.? Or even the animals themselves?

I was planning to get a small, basin-style tub for “bathtime”, then disposing of any… “soiled” water by flushing that down the toilet. Where do you clean/rinse everything else, though? What precautions do you take to avoid leaving any salmonella or bacteria behind in sinks, bathtubs, or on other surfaces?

I’m trying to de-stress someone about the potential for salmonella contamination. There are already three cats and a dog in the house, and they kind of seem like a higher risk to me than a reptile in a tank… I’m an almost obsessive hand-washer, so I can’t imagine the danger is that terrible?


I have bioactive enclosures for cresties and my milksnake, minimalistic/sanitary enclosure for leos and fat-tails, and just substrate for my snakes (sand boas and hognoses). I don’t usually do much with bioactives except cleaning off decor when it gets dirty. My minimalistic enclosures, I take everything out, use a steam cleaner to sanitize the tub, hides, and dishes, and just replace the paper towels. I spot clean my snakes enclosures and do a full substrate change every couple months or so (where I will clean out everything in it with steam). I don’t bother washing the animals themselves, they shed to do that.
The only real risk for salmonella with reptiles is if you don’t wash your hands after handling a reptile that’s infected with salmonella. It’s a very low risk as long as you take basic precautions.


In years gone by I’d do regular spot cleaning, and full cleaning as needed, and once a year haul everything outside to do a full wash down with soap and water.

I haven’t done that in a long time. I now do the same spot cleaning and when I change bedding I’ll spray the entire enclosure interior with chlorhexidine and wipe it all down.

Regarding bowls I wipe them down with chlorhexidine as well.

I do intend to install a shop sink in my reptile room eventually, but who knows when that’ll happen.


shower dancing GIF


Speaking of soiled water, Draco just watched me clean his water dish and refill it. I put it back in his enclosure and walk off to make his salad. What do i see when i get back…


I like the steam-cleaning idea! That would be a lot less of an ordeal than hauling pieces to and from running water. Is there a “best” model for enclosure upkeep? I’m intending to get a canister model, I’ve grown wary of anything handheld. XD The one I saw mentioned most around the web was this one: Amazon.com

I do also see other brands offering models seemingly aimed at pet owners (albeit, more-so dogs and cats than herps). Does anyone have a preferred brand or model?


I love how he’s looking back, out of the corner of his eye… smugly, like so: :smirk:


This is the one I have:
I already had this one laying around, if you were going to get something for just reptiles you might be able to find a better one (but this one would work just fine).


Are you kidding me @eaglereptiles? That turtle is literally shaking it’s butt in the “shower”! What a hoot! So @adra if you ever end up with a turtle……


I love it @baby_yoda! Draco would obviously rather have a dirty water dish! That’s a hoot! :joy:

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I found a product called “Healthy Habitat” many years ago. It is organic and safe to use for spot cleaning (even even if the animal is in the the enclosure), as well as for cleaning tubs when I change out the substrate. I have a deep sink in the garage which I use for soaking tubs, hides, water bowls, etc. and I use Dawn dish soap for that.

My method must be working as I have not had a sick animal except for the mites that I brought into the house myself………

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When I do a full break down and clean I wash most of everything in dawn dish soap that can be easily moved to a tub or sink (tubs, hides, water dishes, plants etc). I make sure to wash them off well after cleaning. Anything that cannot be moved easily I spray and wipe clean with Chlorhexidine (anti fungal/bacterial). I do cleanings every month to 4 months depending on animal and enclosure size. In between full cleanings I spot clean. Not like some do. I fully remove all bedding that is soiled or maybe soiled. Then I wipe the area down with Chlorhexidine and put down fresh bedding. Any hides or other items soiled during spot clean also get a full wash. Probably why I have zero reptile smell in my entire house. My enclosures and tubs always smell nice and clean. Even my reptiles are used to a clean home. When they soil their home they are at the front waiting for me to come clean it. If one of my reptiles happens to crawl in or lay in their mess I remove them. I wipe down a sink/tub with Chlorhexidine. Then run some water and get to correct temp and correct level for said animal. Let them soak for a minute. Then as they are coming out the “bath” I let them crawl through my hands with paper towels to dry and remove any extra stuff that maybe still on the animal. Then I clean the area the animal was soaking in with Chlorhexidne again.

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I use Clorox clean up (bleach) for my cages. Wash the whole cage / tub and rinse with clean water. Then dry with a towel and replace paper bedding. I also use the bleach to clean their water bowls and rinse well. I use Dawn dish soap for my boas if needed. Mostly only after they have given birth. Snakes and water bowls are all cleaned in the laundry tub sink or my bar sink. When needed, I flush their poop down the toilet. That’s only if they poop in their water bowls.

As for the chance of getting salmonella contamination from snakes, in my opinion, it’s very unlikely. Unless you get there poop in your mouth. :poop::nauseated_face::face_vomiting:. Lizards and turtles,:lizard::turtle: you have a better chance to get salmonella from them. As they poop more often and lay and run around in their poop.

I have owned 100’s of boas :snake: over the past 47 years now. I have never gotten salmonella from them. I even sometimes eat my lunch when cleaning their cages. You have a much better chance to get salmonella from raw chicken from the grocery store.

I also have 5 dogs that live with my boas. None of them have gotten sick from my boas.

When my wife was pregnant with my first child, her doctor told her we needed to get rid of our boas because of salmonella contamination.

Good thing my wife is very well educated (not sure why she married me :rofl: ) and knew that would not happen. As we had no plans on letting a baby play with the boas. Human babies put everything in their mouth. So it’s just common sense not to have both together. We would just wash up good after interacting with the boas before doing anything with our babies. Once my kids were older, they all played with my boas. They knew to wash up after playing with the boas most of the time. Kids will be kids.:snake:


Awwww, I love that—your kids even got to enjoy growing up with them. :heart::snake:

It really disgusts me how medical professionals will dole out advice like that, when in reality they have less knowledge on the subject than an average pet owner. :angry: As though animals are just some passive aspect of our lives that can be discarded the moment they may pose the slightest inconvenience. Pets are family, too. You wouldn’t tell an expecting mother to get rid of her older kids, because they might bring germs home to the new baby (which, let’s be honest… is waaaaaaaay more likely). :roll_eyes:

I try to imagine how these types of people live… Are their homes just like sterile hospital rooms? No pets, no plants, and disposable paper covering all of the furniture? :rofl:


@tommccarthy and @adra Sometimes I forget to wash my hands after I handle my reptiles but I have never gotten sick with anything.

Years ago as a kid in the summertime, I played outside all day long. I know I got my daily dose of germs which imo helped build up my immunity. I was never sick except for the occasional cold in the winter and scarlet fever once. Modern science would love to eradicate all germs. If that happens we will all be sick……. Lol!:joy: