Pigsty cleaning and disinfection

Cleaning and disinfecting a pigsty every time a pig is re-housed takes a lot of work. However, it is well worth the effort to ensure clean floors, walls, and ceilings, and feeding systems for your pigs, as well as clean farrowing pens, heat nests, fattening compartments. Using suitable equipment and cleaning agents, as well as an efficient plan, time and money can be saved. In addition, you can quickly fill the pigsty with the next herd of pigs.

Pigsty cleaning and disinfection

Why pigsty cleaning and disinfection pays off

In some countries, hygiene regulations for pig farming require the vacated barn to be cleaned and disinfected between herds. However, pigsty cleaning and disinfection shouldn’t only happen because of the legal regulations.

In addition to measures, such as a quarantine period for new animals, pigsty cleaning and disinfection is a substantial contribution to biosecurity. In other words, you’re creating an environment for the animals that reduces the likelihood of disease. Therefore, a high standard of pigsty hygiene is an integral part of animal-friendly and economical pig husbandry.

Pigsty cleaning

Tip – advantages of regular pigsty cleaning:

  • Lower germ presence leads to fewer diseases in pigsties
  • This results in fewer medications and lower veterinary costs - and an increase in revenue
  • A healthier animal population leads to overall improved animal welfare
  • Thorough hygiene is an important component in the prevention of animal diseases such as African swine fever

How often does a pigsty need cleaning?

How often a pigsty is cleaned depends on whether it is a holding, farrowing, rearing or fattening barn. The most efficient way to clean a pigsty is to use the ‘clean-out’ system. Once all the animals have been turned out and the pigsty is empty, thorough cleaning will break chains of infection.

This results in the following cleaning cycle:
The waiting area is cleaned approximately every 115 days, the farrowing area every 32 days, the rearing pen approximately every 50 days and the fattening pen approximately every 90 to 100 days.

Once the herd has left the pigsty, cleaning should ideally begin immediately. Waiting increases the effort required to clean because fresh, damp dirt is easier to remove.

The right cleaning cycle for pigsty cleaning and disinfection

Preparing for pigsty cleaning and disinfection

Main types of dirt: faeces and dust

In addition to faeces, dust composed of a mixture of skin, bristles, feed and particles from bedding is a challenge when cleaning pigsties. The dust covers all surfaces of a pigsty – floors and walls, partitions and gates, supply lines for water and feed, the feed troughs themselves, ventilation systems and the windows.

Like faeces, this dust is a breeding ground for fungi, germs, and flies. To protect people and animals from diseases, especially respiratory diseases, this dust must be removed.

Removing dirt from a pigsty

The degree of soiling and cleaning requirements in fattening and rearing barns, and farrowing areas

In the fattening pens, contamination is at its highest after a good three months of fattening. However, this does not mean that the breeder has to be less careful when cleaning the rearing pens.

Even if the last cleaning and disinfection took place only a few weeks ago, hygiene and cleanliness are very important here. Piglets are particularly susceptible to diseases, as they first must build up their immune system after birth. To thrive they need a meticulously cleaned environment that is free from dirt and germs. This applies all the more to the farrowing area, where the newborn piglets spend their first weeks with their mothers.

With a systematic approach and suitable equipment, the pens can be cleaned and disinfected without excessive labour so that the new pig herd has a good start in a clean environment.

Pigsty cleaning and disinfection – devices and detergents

A broom, shovel and wheelbarrow have long been part of pigsty cleaning. However, the most important piece of equipment for professional pigsty cleaning is a modern high-pressure cleaner. It efficiently cleans for greater pigsty hygiene. Whether a mobile or stationary high-pressure cleaner is used depends on the size and general conditions of the farm.

Pigsty cleaning and disinfection with a hot-water high pressure cleaner

For larger spaces, it is worth acquiring a stationary high-pressure washer. This is permanently installed in a side room of a barn or sty and is connected to the individual compartments via pipes. In these compartments there are connection points where the high-pressure hose and lance is attached.

Stationary high-pressure washers have the advantage of short setup times. There is no need to move the unit from compartment to compartment. Additionally, it is not in the way during cleaning, and the device cannot introduce outside germs into the barn. This risk exists with mobile cleaners that are also used outside the barn. This is the case especially on smaller farms.

Hot water makes quick and easy cleaning work

In principle, cleaning with hot water high-pressure cleaners is also possible when cleaning pigsties. The hot water high-pressure cleaner has the advantage that the hot water dissolves greasy dirt more quickly and also works against germs even without cleaning agents.

The hot water from a modern high-pressure cleaner reduces cleaning time by up to 40 percent. In addition, surfaces cleaned with hot water dry much faster. Disinfection work and repairs can then begin sooner. The bottom line is that hot water high-pressure cleaners save a lot of time and money.

Advantages of hot water high-pressure cleaners

Cleaning with hot water: High-pressure cleaners clean even better at a constant pressure. Alongside improved results and faster cleaning and drying times, hot water high-pressure cleaners also have a measurable germ-reducing effect. When the steam stage is used, even delicate surfaces can be gently cleaned with temperatures of up to 155 °C. Furthermore, the machines allow for a reduction in the working pressure, the time required and the volume of cleaning agent that is used. This means that cleaning with hot water offers a number of advantages and various possibilities for optimising the cleaning process.

Cleaning pigsties with a wet and dry vacuum cleaner

Wet and dry vacuum cleaners

Wet and dry vacuums are being used to efficiently supplement high-pressure cleaners. These are used to remove liquids or solids. For example, as a first step in the cleaning process, feed residues can simply be sucked out of the troughs – similarly, cleaning water that has accumulated in the troughs after cleaning the barn can be removed.
The wet and dry vacuum cleaner can also be used to remove dust from the piglets' heat nests.

Cleaning of the outdoor area with a push sweeper


Sweepers are primarily needed outside a pigsty and help minimise germs inside. Since germs always enter from the outside, it is particularly important to sweep the outside areas – such as paths and yard areas around the barn – thoroughly and regularly. This removes the possibility for rodents to feed off scraps and reduces the risk of diseases being introduced into the barn.

Cleaning agents for pigsty cleaning

Cleaning agents

Special, biodegradable cleaning agents not only remove dirt more quickly, but also more thoroughly. The surfactants in alkaline cleaning agents or foam cleaners dissolve water-insoluble dirt and remove greasy and protein-containing residues from feed and faeces. The cleaning agents can also be used in combination with soaking agents which are alkaline.

Procedure for pigsty cleaning and disinfection

The health of the pigs needs to be protected in addition to that of the people on the farm. That is why, in addition to full-body wash suits and gloves, employees should also wear protective goggles and a mouth/nose mask during pigsty cleaning. In this way, they can carry out the following work steps with the lowest possible health risks.

1. Dry clean the pigsty and remove coarse dirt

All larger quantities of loose dirt on the floor such as manure and feed residues should be removed mechanically with a shovel and broom. This helps a subsequent wet cleaning, which is then more efficient and uses less water.

If loose dirt is not removed in advance, the pressure from the high-pressure cleaner will spread throughout the barn. This makes cleaning inefficient and unpleasant.

Dry feed residues in the troughs can be quickly removed with a wet and dry vacuum cleaner.

Cleaning in the pigsty

Farrowing: remove dust from heat nests

The piglets’ heat nests are vacuumed , possibly with a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, and freed from dust. This is also possible when the nests are still occupied. By vacuuming the dust, the burden on the respiratory tract of the piglets is reduced, as is the risk of infection by germs and fungi.

After clearing the compartment, the wet and dry vacuum is used to clean sensitive components such as spark lamps before they are dismantled and moved out of the barn to protect them from damage by the high-pressure washer.

2. Soaking the pigsty

In the next step, the stall is completely soaked to loosen heavy residues. This procedure has the advantage of reducing cleaning times. To prevent the surfaces from drying too quickly, the heating and ventilation system are switched off beforehand.
Some barns have sprinkler systems for soaking. Otherwise, the barn can also be moistened with a high-pressure cleaner.

For soaking, water should be finely misted so that it can penetrate deep into the dirt. For about a day, the water should be applied at regular intervals. Too much water at once isn’t ideal, as large drops easily run off the dirt’s surface.
Soaking agents can also be used which are alkaline in nature and dissolve faeces and fats more easily.

Soaking with a high-pressure cleaner in pigsty cleaning

3. Cleaning pigsties with high-pressure

Cleaning from bottom to top

After an appropriate soaking time, a high-pressure cleaner should be used. In a pigsty, cleaning with the high-pressure cleaner is usually done from the bottom up. The floor is cleaned first, followed by the walls, pen partitions and all surfaces up to the ceiling..

After cleaning the floors, the slatted surfaces are next. This allows the dirt to drain through the open slots. The walls and partitions, are next then the ceilings. Finally, everything is rinsed again from top to bottom. In the process, all other equipment in the barn is also cleaned. Feed and drinking water facilities receive special treatment (see below).

If the reverse order were followed - from top to bottom - the dirt from the floor would be splashed onto the freshly cleaned walls and surfaces by the water pressure from the high-pressure cleaner, causing extra work.

The use of a flat jet nozzle is recommended. Cleaning with it, is most effective from a distance of about 20 to 40 centimetres. In the case of very stubborn dirt and excrement, use a rotor nozzle – also known as a dirt cutter. However, care should be taken to ensure that sensitive surfaces are not damaged.

Use a two-step method

The additional use of cleaning agents speeds up the cleaning process, especially if cold water high-pressure cleaners are used.

Applying the detergents before actual cleaning is recommended, so proceed in two steps – first apply detergent, then clean with the high-pressure cleaner.

High-pressure cleaners are also used to apply cleaning agents. Ideally, the cleaning agent is applied from the bottom upwards using a cup foam lance. The cleaning foam is stable so that it adheres to surfaces for longer and can take effect. With foam, the contact time is optimized in contrast to water-based cleaning solutions. Another advantage of cleaning foam is that you can see where it has been applied.

After the cleaning agents have set in for as long as their instructions dictate, the second step is thorough cleaning with water.

Special treatment for feeding equipment

Cleaning feeding equipment and the drinking water supply requires special care because germs can easily settle here. For the feeding pipes, cleaning with a pipe cleaning set is recommended which is connected to the high-pressure cleaner and effectively cleans the pipes from the inside.

Tip 1 – not too much pressure:

To clean a pigsty efficiently, a high flushing capacity is ideal. This means a lot of water and relatively little pressure. This washes away the dirt instead of splashing it in all directions with the wastewater.

When purchasing a high-pressure washer, make sure that the pressure can be regulated – ideally not only on the device itself, but with an attachment on the lance. High-pressure lances with a gun attachment can be a real help, where the amount of water and pressure can be dosed continuously. This allows the user to easily set the best water pressure in each case.

Tip 2 – do not finish cleaning too soon:

A surface is properly cleaned when the material of the surface is recognisable in its colour and structure, and the wastewater no longer contains dirt particles.

4. Observe the drying time

Surfaces must be completely dry to disinfect the pigsty. This may take several days, depending on the season.

To allow steam to escape, the doors of the pig house are opened. Alternatively, heating and ventilation can be switched on again. Cleaning with hot water shortens the drying time.

The wet/dry vacuum cleaners are used to remove water that cannot drain off on its own, for example from the drinkers and troughs.

Disinfect a pigsty

Cleanliness in a pigsty requires more than just loosening dirt and flushing it away. Even though thorough cleaning with a hot water high-pressure cleaner alone makes a significant contribution to hygiene, disinfection of the stalls is also required.

The first prerequisite of thorough pigsty disinfection is that all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned. Secondly, all surfaces must be completely dry after cleaning. If the surfaces are still damp, the water present lowers the concentration of the disinfectant and its effectiveness.

Disinfect a pigsty

How to disinfect a pigsty?

Selecting the right disinfectant is crucial. The goal of the disinfection is important. Which germs are to be eliminated – fungi, viruses, bacteria? Or is it about the elimination of parasites?

All these goals are important to bear in mind – but no disinfectant can target all of them. That’s why the disinfectant used must be changed regularly to prevent resistant germs from forming. A veterinarian can assist in selecting the right disinfectant for the farm. It goes without saying that the disinfectant must be officially approved.

The right protective equipment for pigsty cleaning

Human and animal protection

Different disinfectants must be applied one after the other and the surfaces must dry completely in between. Under no circumstances should the disinfectants be mixed! This could cancel out their effect or even lead to chemical reactions that are harmful to health.

Disinfectants may only be applied by personnel wearing suitable protective equipment. Chemical disinfectants kill living organisms and can endanger humans and animals if used improperly. Therefore, disinfection may only be carried out when the barn is empty or if the disinfecting agent is approved for use in occupied barns.

Cleaning a pigsty

Pigsty disinfection: equipment, temperature and drying time

Disinfectant is applied with a high-pressure cleaner or with a battery powered pressure sprayer, depending on the equipment of the barn. Always work from the rear part of the barn to the front. Ensure that all surfaces are completely wetted.

Most agents will work safely at 20 °C (refer to the manufacturer's information to determine if this applies in individual cases). To ensure that the correct temperature is reached, the heating system should be switched on before disinfecting a pigsty. Ventilation, on the other hand, should not run during the exposure time.

It is essential to observe the waiting time until the pigs are brought back into the sty in order not to endanger the animals. How many days the waiting time is can be found in the information on the respective disinfectant.

Tip – do not forget repairs:

In a cleaned barn, areas in need of repair are easy to spot. But even during cleaning, staff should be on the lookout for them, and then plan for repairs in good time.

Small cracks, crevices or holes are fertile grounds for germs and can become entry points for insects and rodents, which in turn can carry pathogens. In a clean barn, however, these risk zones are quickly repaired. In this way, the time between the pigs being housed in the barn is used optimally.

Suitable products for your area of application


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Uttar Pradesh

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