What specific concentrations of Rescue/Accel are best for 'spot' cleaning and 'full' cleaning, and when is each type of cleaning appropriate?

Last updated: 2016-11-10
Author: Dr. Brenda Dines
Document type: FAQs
Topic: Infectious Disease
Species: Canine, Feline

Dr. Dines clears up some confusion about when spot cleaning and full cleaning are appropriate, and what concentrations of Rescue/Accel to use for each.


Our shelter is an open door urban shelter with an intake of around 6,000 animals this year. I am hoping you could help to clear up some confusion regarding Rescue (formerly Accel®) cleaning solution and what specific concentrations are best. I have spoken with the product representative and he stated that the general consensus recommendation for shelters is to use a 1:64 concentration for general cleaning and a 1:32 concentration @ 10 minutes for ‘deep’ cleaning situations.  He stated that this was the UC Davis/Koret recommendation but I was unable to locate this specifically on your site to confirm it.

While I think it would be great to use this lower concentration, I am concerned that this 1:64 concentration is not labeled or as I understand even likely to kill parvovirus. As an open door urban shelter in the Northeast we see parvo and panleuk infrequently but still several times a year. It just seems odd to me that the consensus recommendation would not be the minimal tested concentration which is on label to kill parvovirus (1:32 at 10 minutes duration). Am I missing something? Whether it be parvovirus, panuleukopenia or ringworm, in my experience all too often we find out about herd disease exposure after the fact (i.e. after it already has walked through the facility or when the animal starts showing signs after a few days in-house). I suspect that I am not alone amongst shelter vets in being more comfortable knowing that our general cleaning protocol is hopefully neutralizing these pathogens and minimizing risk of contagion before we even become aware that they are there.

Therefore my previous recommendation was to use 1:32 @ 10 minutes for general cleaning and 1:16 @ 5 minutes for deep cleaning and between cage changes (due to its label claim to kill ringworm at this concentration/time). I am being challenged to substantiate this recommendation and would love to hear your opinion (even if I am incorrect).

Thanks so much for your time. And also for your website and program which is really a valuable resource to us all.


Great question! We regularly recommend the use of Rescue (formerly Accel®) and are happy to provide some assistance in understanding what concentration to use and when.

We do recommend that you use the 1:64 concentration on a daily basis and the 1:32 concentration once weekly or when a new animal will be entering the cage. You are correct in stating that the 1:32 concentration is the labeled dilution for killing parvovirus and that is why we have different recommendations for cleaning areas that have puppies or frequent movement of animals.

With regard to cleaning, the efficacy of your sanitation protocols is most dependent on the cleaning process that is performed rather than your choice of cleaning or disinfecting product. We generally think of effective sanitation as requiring 4 steps:

  1. Mechanical removal of gross debris
  2. Thorough cleaning with a detergent product (which could include Rescue™) to create a visibly clean surface
  3. Application of a disinfectant to kill remaining pathogens (again, Rescue™ would be a reasonable choice here)
  4. Drying

(Rescue™ can be combined into one step for steps 2 and 3 as long as the surface is not heavily soiled).

It is actually steps 1 and 2 that result in the greatest removal of pathogens from a contaminated surface. The disinfectant only cleans up the small number of germs that remain if the other steps have been performed thoroughly. If there are a large number of pathogens present, even the best disinfectant won't be able to kill all of them.

Thus Rescue™ at the 1:64 concentration for daily cleaning is sufficient. However, we also strongly recommend the use of daily spot cleaning, as opposed to full disinfection, in occupied cages. Spot cleaning does not kill all of the germs in the enclosure, but generally an animal’s own pathogens aren’t as much of a problem for them as they might be for their neighbor. Spot cleaning helps to prevent staff from being contaminated with those germs, which is important since our cleaning staff have the greatest fomite potential in the shelter. Spot cleaning also has the added benefit of stress reduction, as the animal's enclosure is less disrupted each day.

Spot cleaning isn't appropriate in all situations. If you have a known or suspect case of a disease such as parvo/panleuk or ringworm, full cleaning using a 1:32 or 1:16 concentration of Rescue™ is warranted. Depending on levels of disease in the shelter, you may also want to err on the side of caution and use one of these concentrations in the kennels of animals less than 5 months old or those who have been in the shelter for 4 days or less; this is because these animals won't reliably have vaccine protection on board. However, for areas like the adoption floor, which would generally be healthy, vaccinated animals, 1:64 dilution will be sufficient.

Cleaning (spot or full) is facilitated by using double-compartment housing for all of your individually housed dogs and cats. Compartments allow staff to place an animal on one side of the enclosure while cleaning (minimizing contact with staff to prevent contamination of staff or animal exposure to contaminated staff). Double-sided housing also reduces the numbers of animals in shelter care (compared to those same housing units as single compartment units), which helps to reduce infectious disease spread within the shelter as staff have more time to perform their jobs carefully, to provide care and attention to each animal, and to monitor for early signs of infectious disease before transmission has occurred within the shelter. In addition to daily monitoring, careful screening for signs of disease at time of intake is another important element of mitigating disease spread within the shelter, as you can isolate animals before they enter the general shelter population.

Please let us know if you have further questions and if we can be of any more assistance.


University of Wisconsin Shelter Medicine Program
Koret Shelter Medicine Program

Brenda Dines, DVM
Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Resident
Shelter Medicine Program
University of Wisconsin – Madison
School of Veterinary Medicine 


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