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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 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.