Riverfront Scrub-a-Dub
June 11, 2008 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Complicated microbology/ecology conundrum: Just bought a little house on a river. The house has two big rocks that jut out into the water that are perfect to sit on...if it weren't for the poop on them (most in a thin, dried layer). Help me figure out a solution that maximizes sanitation and minimizes environmental impact...

We think either deer, beavers or raccoons have been leaving their deposits on the rocks. Ideally, I would like to scrub the rocks clean with something that will kill any microorganisms left behind in the poop. BUT, because the rocks stick out into the water, I want to avoid using anything excessively toxic (i.e. bleach). What can I use to clean the rocks? One biologist friend recommended Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap (which has the added bonus of being repellent to future poopers), but I am sure there are other, possibly better solutions. What are they?
posted by yellowcandy to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
You could just use a stiff-bristled brush and plain water - uv from the sun should kill any "microorganisms" left over once the crud is gone.
posted by gyusan at 12:09 PM on June 11, 2008

Pressure washer; plain old water. Mechanical force is a great way to remove microorganisms from a surface.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:12 PM on June 11, 2008

Hot water mixed with baking soda and vinegar or unscented glycerin soap ought to do the trick. And yes to the stiff brush.
posted by wowbobwow at 12:12 PM on June 11, 2008

Doesn't sound like deer; I never heard of deer doing that. They do the "shit in the woods" thing on their own trails, mostly. Besides, they leave "beans."
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:19 PM on June 11, 2008

Microorganisms won't kill you if you sit on them. They may stain your pants but that is about it. Just take a cushion with you when you sit on them and you don't have to do any cleaning. Note that brushing the poop into the water isn't exactly environmentally friendly.
posted by JJ86 at 12:19 PM on June 11, 2008

Water, powered if you want speed or a brush if you have leisure time. As for worries about the dried poop getting into the stream, that's where the poop goes during the rainy season.
posted by jamaro at 12:24 PM on June 11, 2008

This Wikipedia article discusses the cleaning uses for vinegar, and further down (in the section marked Agricultural and horticultural uses), it mentions stronger vinegar solutions (> 5%) are available. I would check a nursery for 10% or 20% strength.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:25 PM on June 11, 2008

Ditto pressure wash or a hot water scrub. This won't be difficult. Chemical use is badish news: vinegar, soap, alcohols. Doing so will either increase toxicity or elevate biological oxygen demand or both. Small amounts of cleaners won't necessarily be horrible, but I would strongly advise against their use. Under no circumstances should you use a detergent, or citrus-based cleaner, however.

What's your plan for keeping the raccoons from coming back? That's the tricky part.
posted by bonehead at 12:33 PM on June 11, 2008

Well I dont know much of anything about biology, but Dr. Bronners is about the most eco-friendly cleanser around and it works wonders. You can practically eat the stuff (dont of course). And it will leave your rocks minty fresh! Maybe instead of pooping on them, your incontinent racoons will just come and rub on your rocks in appreciation.
posted by elendil71 at 1:04 PM on June 11, 2008

not answering your question, but i wonder if it's bird crap, and maybe the leavings of a bird's meal that's on your rock. keeping it clean and shiny for yr butt might be ok, but you'd be disrupting their favorite roost.

regardless, washing off these rocks seems like overkill. just bring a cushion. after all, whoever's crapping on it is using it more then you are.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 1:10 PM on June 11, 2008

Several animals, including foxes especially prefer to poop on rocks and many like to poop near water--it is a territory marker that is hard to miss by other animals going to drink.

What I'm saying is: if you clean the poop off today there's just going to be more poop in the morning. If you put down anything to try to cover their scent, that only gives them more incentive to make the scent stronger.

All of the other rocks along the river are covered with microorganisms, too. And the river is chock full of them, including those from that same pooping animal. You are not going to get the rocks microbe free, and there's no particular reason to.

A nice wet sponge, dipped in river water will clear the poop off for today. Or just spread out a blanket and forget it's there.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:31 PM on June 11, 2008

steam cleaner + scrub. I haven't found anything that combo won't clean/ sanitize
posted by wongcorgi at 1:34 PM on June 11, 2008

campsoap breaks down in rivers better than dr bronner's.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:45 PM on June 11, 2008

Also, see if you can spot what animals are causing the poop and then find ways to naturally repel them. Just hosing the rocks down a few times might be good enough to scare them away.
posted by gjc at 5:07 PM on June 11, 2008

Response by poster: I've been back and suspect pretty strongly that it's beavers that are doing the pooping. There looks to be a lodge nearby.

So in the event that I get the rocks scrubbed clean(ish), any good advice for keeping the beavers away? There's plenty of good land for them to relocate. I'd just like to keep them away.

Thanks all!
posted by yellowcandy at 2:56 PM on June 12, 2008

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