Guinea pigs are a whole lot of fun to have as pets! But cleaning their cage can be quite a chore, the work (if done ineffectively) can take up hours of your Saturday afternoon.
So what’s the best way to clean a guinea pig cage? Well, taking a few minutes to spot clean each day and replacing bedding at least every third day will divide up the work to make both you and your pet happier.
But the habits, tricks, and hacks don’t end there; there are many things to know that can turn this big chore into a small one. Read on to find out!
How To Clean A Guinea Pig Cage Step-By-Step
For a full, deep cleaning of your guinea pig’s cage, you should follow a methodical process. That way, you won’t have to worry about missing a critical step or spending too much time over insignificant parts.
Here’s an example of a process you could incorporate into your cleaning routine:
- Gently remove your guinea pig(s) from their cage and place them next to you or into a secure pen where you can monitor them during cleaning.
- Discard leftover food and soiled bedding completely (or, if you use fleece bedding, put it in the washing machine or designated handwash sink).
- Using unscented or neutral-scent dish soap, thoroughly clean, rinse, then refill your guinea pig’s water bottle.
- Wash and rinse the interior of the cage with the same neutral soap, taking care to get into crevices. Use water as hot as you can handle to thoroughly clean the cage
- Use a non-toxic sanitizing solution—made specifically for pets—to discourage the proliferation of bacteria. If you have multiple guinea pigs and one is found to be sick, you should still isolate them, but sanitizing the cage regularly will work to prevent illness overall.
- Dry the cage with a towel, leaving behind no moisture. This is important in preventing bedding from becoming soggy and may help fight the growth of molds.
- Put in clean bedding, using enough to create a layer about 2-3” deep. If you use fleece bedding, one or two layers provides a suitably soft environment.
Once you get into the routine, this should take no more than 15 minutes. Cleaning may take even less time if you stick to a regular schedule and spot clean as necessary.
What Is Spot Cleaning And Why?
Spot cleaning can help reduce the amount of time that a full clean will take. It’s also crucial in keeping your guinea pig from sitting in their waste: their high metabolism and the large volume of food eaten each day mean they produce quite a lot of it!
This process is shorter than that of the full cleaning routine and should only take about five minutes to complete. Doing this every day is good for your pet’s health and hygiene. As an added benefit, this can double as a playtime during and after cleaning!
How To Spot Clean A Guinea Pig Cage Step-By-Step
- Carefully remove your guinea pig(s) from the cage and place them beside you or into a secure pen with a liner.
- For fleece bedding, use a small broom and dustpan to sweep up waste and spent hay. Discard in the trash or your compost container.
- For pine shaving or fluffy paper bedding, use gloves or a cat poop scoop to remove the top inch and replace it with a fresh layer.
- Use non-toxic sanitizing wipes—made specifically for pets—to go over any spots that might be exposed to germs.
- Replace the water and food if necessary.
- Put your guinea pig(s) back in their cage when they begin to seem tired or antsy.
This spot cleaning routine should be done every day, ideally around the same time. This will prevent undue disruption of your pet’s sleeping and eating schedules. It will also allow them to expect the change of scenery, so after about a week of this, they will be perfectly calm when you move them around.
Frequency of Cleaning a Guinea Pig Cage
Timing is everything when it comes to cleaning your guinea pig’s cage. Infrequent cleaning can lead to illness, unpleasant odors, and a bigger time investment when you do get around to it.
Doing something each day to maintain the cleanliness of your guinea pig’s cage is the best way to keep them happy and healthy. Scooping some poop, replacing some bedding, wiping some germs, etc. etc.
Bedding should be fully replaced—not just the top layer—at least every third day, depending on the type of bedding you have.
- If you use fleece bedding, it’s recommended that you have two or three sets of bedding to swap out, given the time it takes to wash it. Fleece also tends to lock in odors, so you should replace it every other day. Be sure to use a baby/pet-safe laundry detergent.
- Pine shavings and paper bedding are all right to fully replace every second or third day, but you should replace the top layer daily to prevent waste and germs from accumulating.
Spot cleaning should occur daily, done around the same time of day to reduce your pet’s anxiety and get them into a habit (as well as yourself). As detailed in the first section, a deep cleaning should occur twice a week, including sanitization with a pet-safe solution.
Guinea Pig Cage Cleaning Hacks
Keeping your guinea pig’s cage clean doesn’t have to be difficult! Here are some helpful hacks to making your routine as efficient as it can be:
Use a waterproof liner on the bottom of the cage to prevent leaks, and to make bedding replacement easier, that way you can simply bring the liner’s edges together, scooping everything up, and dispose of the whole thing. The liner’s replacement should occur as often as you deep clean.
For particularly messy cages, use a white vinegar solution: one part vinegar to three parts water. It can keep odors at bay and fights tough residue. Add in a few drops of pet-safe laundry detergent or dish soap for better smell.
Most importantly, stick to a method that works for you. As you practice, you will become speedier at the process you stick to, and you’ll find your own tricks as well (if you do, share them with us!).
Preventing Upper Respiratory Infections In Guinea Pigs
One of the main reasons why regular cage cleaning is necessary is to prevent upper respiratory infections. Guinea pigs are prone to these, and may even suffer pneumonia if left untreated and/or the animal remains in an unclean environment.
The bacteria which cause these diseases are opportunistic, developing into illness when guinea pigs are stressed (such as when they’re living in unclean conditions).
Improper bedding, particularly when combined with poor ventilation, is another cause of upper respiratory infections. Avoid cedar shavings or anything scented, and if you use pine shavings, be sure that they are kiln-dried and dust extracted.
How To Stop A Guinea Pig Cage From Smelling
Even when you keep to a regular cleaning schedule, your guinea pig’s cage may still smell. It may be time to reassess your odor mitigation strategies:
- Sprinkle a teaspoon or two of baking soda on the bottom of the cage, before your layers of bedding. Commonly used in refrigerators and bathrooms, the substance is an effective odor neutralizing agent.
- To combat lasting odors, you may need to soak the entire cage and all its components (food bowl, water bottle, toys) in hot, soapy water for 5-10 minutes.
- Even though guinea pigs keep themselves quite clean, an occasional bath won’t hurt! Check out our full guide.
This is all you need to know about how to clean a guinea pig cage! By following these tips and sticking to a regular cleaning routine, your guinea pig’s cage will be sparkling, your pet will be kept healthy, and your home will not smell.
Moreover, your relationship with your furry friend will improve; they will feel safe and loved in their well-maintained home and will enjoy the playtime they’ll have when you’re cleaning each day. Keep it simple and intentional, and you’ll have nothing to worry about!