Originally Posted by parkanz2
I think I'm more comfortable with a vinegar solution... bleach scares me a little.
The problems with scrubbing with vinegar or bleach or any other disinfectant (and how they work is extremely varied for example vinegar to operate at it's most effective action requires 3 hours exposure at 75 F ( 24 C) (and it takes much longer the cooler it is) is that all of the protecting organics have to be removed so the disifectant can contact the organism. This is impossible with pieces of wood, cork or other organics that have cracks and crevices as the disinfectant can't penetrate into those areas to gain contact with the organisms. As was noted above, even extended periods may not reach organisms in the center of relatively narrow pieces.
The same can be said with boiling/baking. Neither of those is likely to reach the center of the piece of wood or any deep crevices or cracks (or areas protected by damp organics) and in the mean time, the boiling/baking process is going to be destroying the structural elements of the wood/bark potentially reducing it's life in the enclosure (particularly leaf litter). (It also needs to be noted, never ever bake rocks or other materials with pockets where pressure can build and cause it to explode
(even bamboo is a risk)).
Materials like cork bark purchased either directly from the importer or second hand from pet stores or terrarium suppliers should not need any treatment as the load had to be fumigated under pressure before importation into the US. The gases used in those treatments are able to penetrate deeply into the material which renders them safe. Unless the pieces were used in a tank at the store or stored outside, they are safe for immediate use. This also includes any other imported woods.
Basically these methods are a panacea of sorts as it makes you feel like your doing something to prevent unwanted organisms from moving into the tank.
Chytrid and a number of other organisms are very sensitive to drying, so an extended drying period post washing tends to eliminate the vast majority of pest species. I tend to gather enough leaves in the fall that it allows me to let them dry for 6 months or more which is certainly long enough to eliminate the vast majority of unwanted organisms. The same can be said for collected pieces of wood, if they are allowed to fully dry then they are at little risk of bringing in unwanted organisms.
The few times, I've found unwanted animals in my enclosures, I was able to trace them back to plant I had obtained. Now I quarantine all plants and ideally only use cuttings when adding plants although some of the orchids I want will require extra precautions to prevent unwanted additions.