Most of us have seen the aftermath of a successful hatch and the toll it takes on our nice clean incubators. After your hatch you might find all kinds of nasty stuff in your incubator ranging from chick fuzz to egg shell pieces and even chick poo. Guess what? Someone will need to clean that out to preserve your incubator and prepare for your next hatch but don't worry, although the task may seem daunting, we have a few tips to help simplify and streamline the process.
- First thing you will want to do after you have finished your hatch is to unplug your incubator and let it cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled down you can disassemble the incubator and get it ready to be washed. You will want use warm water and a mild dish washing detergent to wash each part of your incubator, this includes the lid, base, mesh floor, water tray, and in some cases the egg turner. You do not need to soak the incubator but rather use a cloth or sponge that you can dip into the washing solution and generously but gently wash each item. Be careful when you are washing your incubator to not get any of the electrical components wet, in most cases it is best to wash around them and if needed wipe them off with a clean cotton pad or q-tip that you have dipped in rubbing alcohol.
- Next you will want to make sure to rinse off all of the soapy washing solution with some clean warm water. For the pieces without any electrical components I find the sink sprayer to work best, but for the lid or any other pieces with electrical parts it is advised to carefully use a clean damp cloth or sponge to spot rinse the detergent off.
- Now it is time to dry your incubator. During the warmer times of the year I find it best to set the disassembled incubator outside in direct sunlight for a few hours to dry as this helps to kill bacteria. If this is not an option for you we suggest that you pat dry the components with a clean cloth or towel and then let them sit out in a clean and dry area for several hours or until they are fully dried.
- Finally it is time for the most important and most overlooked step on the cleaning process, sanitizing your incubator. To some this may seem redundant due to the fact that we just washed the incubator...however, washing with a detergent and sanitizing are two very different steps which are both equally important. Washing the incubator with a detergent helps to remove any dirt or build up but it does not kill or prevent any bacterial build up, fungal spores, or viruses that can ruin future hatches. There are a couple different methods for sanitizing your incubator, fumigation which is generally for large walk in units and the spray method which is ideal for table top and cabinet incubators. The fumigation method is usually some blend of formaldehyde and other chemicals. The spray method is usually a water mixture that can consist of rubbing alcohol, bleach, or other cleaning solutions. We will be using the spray on method for this article, more specifically we will be using our own product, IncuClean Sanitizing Spray but you can use any spray product you would like. IncuClean Sanitizing Spray is a non-toxic after wash sanitizing spray that will aid in sanitizing your cleaned incubator helping to prevent bacteria, fungus, viruses, and other harmful organisms from negatively impacting your future hatch rate. For best results generously spray the clean and dried incubator with your IncuClean Sanitizing Spray and then give the solution about 1 hour to work its way into any nooks and crannies. There is no need to rinse the IncuClean off as it will evaporate over a short period of time leaving with you with a clean and fully sanitized incubator. If you have used a different product you may need to rinse it or blow dry it off. Now your incubator is fully sanitized and ready for storage or the next batch of eggs.