Clean Caving Procedures

In addition to making caves available for recreational use, SCCi is also committed to protecting caves and fragile cave ecosystems. The following clean caving procedures are required when visiting SCCi caves. If you have any questions, please email stewardship@scci.org or call 423-771-9671 Extension 101.

Introduction of foreign substances into caves can have unintended consequences to cave life. In addition to concerns regarding White-nose Syndrome (WNS), some caves have microscopic life that is unique to that cave, and can be decimated by material introduced from other caves. 

CLEAN CAVING PROCEDURES

  • When caving  in WNS positive counties, clean your gear (Steps 1-2 below).
  • When caving between WNS negative counties, clean your gear (Steps 1-2 below).
  • When caving from a county that is WNS positive to a county that has no identified cases, disinfect your gear (Steps 1-3 below).
  • When caving in likely WNS positive counties disinfect your gear (Steps 1-3) going in and, going out, disinfect your gear (Steps 1-3) if visiting WNS negative counties or clean your gear (Steps 1-2 below) if visiting WNS positive counties.

Refer to the following table for the list of counties and SCCi caves that have been identified White-nose Syndrome positive. Any cave located in a county where White-nose Syndrome has been identified should be treated as positive.

State County Preserve

WNS Positive

Alabama DeKalb Steward Springs

YES

  Jackson Fern

YES

  Jackson Horse Skull

YES

  Jackson Kennamer

YES

  Jackson Limrock Blowing

YES

  Jackson Neversink

YES

  Jackson Stephens Gap

YES

  Jackson Tumbling Rock

YES

  Jackson Valhalla

YES

  Madison Glove Pit

YES

  Madison Varnedoe

YES

  Shelby Anderson

NO

Florida Jackson Hollow Ridge

NO

  Marion Jennings

NO

Georgia Dade Howards Waterfall

YES

  Dade Fox Mountain

YES

  Dade Johnsons Crook

YES

  Walker Fricks

YES

Kentucky Hart Frenchman Knob

YES

  Hart Logsdon

YES

Tennessee Cocke Rattling

LIKELY

  Cumberland Run to the Mill

YES

  Fentress Wolf River

YES

  Franklin Sinking Cove

YES

  Marion Gourdneck

YES

  Marion South Pittsburgh

YES

  Rutherford Snail Shell

LIKELY

  Wayne Holly Creek

YES

West Virginia Pocahontas Lobelia

YES

For a map of all US counties and their White-nose Syndrome status visit https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/resources/map.

Step 1: Get the Dirt Off

Remove as much mud as possible while still at the cave entrance. Place gear in a garbage bag and seal shut. Take home for cleaning.

Step 2: Clean your Gear

Pre-clean submersible gear by hosing it down well. Use a scrub brush and mild soap if necessary to remove all sediment. When water runs clear, machine- or hand-wash with a mild cleanser.  For non-submersible gear (such as cameras and other electronic gear), remove all visible mud by wiping with a damp cloth or scrubbing.

Step 3: Disinfect your Gear

Use one of the following methods to disinfect your gear:

Hot Water Bath

Soak gear in hot water that is at least 122°F (50°C) for at least 15 minutes. Top-loading washing machines may be used if the hot water heater temperature is set high enough. Tubs or baths also work, using either hot tap water, or hot tap water supplemented by heated water.

Chemical Solution Bath

Soak your gear for at least 10 minutes in a bath or tub one of the following solutions:

  • Lysol I.C. Quaternary Disinfectant Cleaner – use 1 oz. per gallon of water;
  • Professional Lysol® Antibacterial All-purpose Cleaner – use 1 oz. per gallon of water;
  • Household bleach (6% hypochlorite, or HOCl)- use 1-part bleach per 9 parts water.

Rinse your gear thoroughly after removing it from the bath, being careful not to let it touch any potentially contaminated surfaces.  Soft gear and clothing may be run through a washing machine.

The recommended Lysol products are available from janitorial supply stores and online sources; household bleach is widely available at grocery and other retail stores.  If you don’t get a lot of silt and clay in your tub, Lysol baths have been demonstrated to be effective for at least a month, even with repeated use (Barton, personal communication, 2011). Bleach solutions can weaken nylon and other materials, and must be discarded within 24 hours, because the diluted bleach breaks down quickly.

Non-Submersion Methods

For gear that cannot be submersed in water, use one of the following methods:

  • Lysol Disinfectant Wipes: Wipe all surfaces. After 10 minutes, wipe dry with a clean cloth or towel.
  • Formula 409® Antibacterial All-Purpose Cleaner: Spray at full strength on all surfaces. After 10 minutes, wipe dry with a clean cloth or towel.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Safety Disclaimer: You’re responsible for using any of these methods safely. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s recommendations, label instructions, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), and common sense.