For the most part, guinea pigs are relatively easy pets to care for. You simply need to provide them with a suitable habitat & diet and be sure to work closely with your vet to ensure your pets remain healthy and happy.
However, you’ll also need to ensure that your pets’ habitat remains clean. Guinea pigs who are forced to live in filthy habitats will often become sick, and it simply isn’t humane to neglect your animals by making them live in an unclean habitat.
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to clean most guinea pig habitats. We’ll explain exactly what you need to do, how often you need to clean your pet’s cage, and a few tips to make the process easier below.
How Often Should You Clean Your Guinea Pig’s Cage?
You’ll want to clean your guinea pig’s cage on a regular basis, as well as anytime it becomes soiled. Different keepers and authorities recommend slightly different cleaning schedules, but it’s usually appropriate to perform a thorough, top-to-bottom habitat cleaning once per week. However, in an ideal world, keepers would perform twice-weekly cleanings, as this will help ensure the habitat remains even cleaner.
Additionally, you’ll need to spot clean the habitat between major cleanings. Minimally, you’ll want to do so every two or three days. However, truly dedicated keepers will often perform spot cleanings on a daily basis.
How to Clean a Guinea Pig Cage
Cleaning a guinea pig habitat is pretty straightforward, and it only requires a few quick-and-easy steps. However, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the necessary steps for each type of cage cleaning, including complete cleanings, as well as spot cleanings.
We’ll explain the basic procedures for each below.
How to Perform a Complete Cage Cleaning
Once every three to seven days, you’ll want to perform a complete cage cleaning. This requires you to follow the steps outlined below:
- Open the habitat and remove your pets. Place them in a temporary enclosure or allow them to roam free in a safe space.
- Remove all of the furniture, food bowls, hay racks and water bottles in the enclosure and set them aside.
- Dump all of the bedding in the habitat into the trash. You can also add the used bedding to your compost pile if you like.
- Take the habitat outside and wash all of the surfaces with soap and water. A scouring pad or scrub brush will help you remove stubborn debris.
- Rinse the habitat thoroughly and dry it with paper towels.
- Wash all of the furniture (as well as the food and water dishes) with soap and warm water.
- Rinse the cage furniture and dry everything with paper towels.
- Add fresh bedding to the habitat.
- Refill the food and water dishes, as well as your hay rack, and put them back in the habitat. Replace any cage furniture (such as ramps or hiding boxes) at this time too.
- Return your pets to the habitat and watch them enjoy their fresh, clean enclosure.
How to Spot Clean a Guinea Pig Cage
Between complete cage cleanings, you’ll need to inspect and spot-clean your guinea pig’s habitat every day or every other day.
When doing so, you needn’t break the entire habitat down and wash everything. Nor do you need to replace the bedding inside the cage. Instead, you’ll just want to remove any feces present, as well as large amounts of shed hair or any other debris in the enclosure.
It is also a good idea to wash your pet’s water and food receptacles at this time.
How to Clean Guinea Pig Cages with Fleece or Other Fabrics
Some keepers like to use fleece blankets or other fabric-based substrates for their guinea pigs. This often increases the amount of work you’ll need to do to keep your pet’s habitat clean, but it is an acceptable choice if it works for you and your pets.
If you use a fleece blanket in your pet’s habitat, just follow the same steps listed above for a complete cage cleaning. However, instead of discarding the old bedding, you’ll want to remove the blanket and shake off any feces or debris outside. Then, wash the blanket in your washing machine. Use hot water when you do so, as this will help kill any germs present.
Once the washing machine has stopped, remove the blanket and throw it in your dryer. Make sure it dries completely before you place it back inside the habitat.
Note that it is best to use unscented detergents when washing your pet’s blanket. Also, avoid using fabric softeners, as they may reduce the blanket’s ability to absorb urine and spilled water.
What Is the Easiest Way to Clean a Guinea Pig’s Cage?
As you can see, it isn’t terribly difficult to clean your pet’s habitat. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make things even easier. Just try to implement the following tips, which should help reduce the amount of time and effort you have to use at cage-cleaning time.
- Select a cage that is easy to clean. Not all guinea pig cages are very easy to clean, so try to select one that comes apart easily and is made from non-porous materials. There are a number of easy-to-clean guinea pig cages on the market, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one for your pet.
- Pick up a large trash can and keep it near your pet’s habitat. A large trash can will make it much easier to deal with the soiled bedding from your pet’s habitat. Try to find a large, rubber can with a very wide mouth. A rubber trash can will be light enough to move around easily, and a wide mouth will help reduce the amount of bedding you spill on the floor. Additionally, it is simply convenient to have a trash can near your pet’s habitat, to make spot-cleaning the cage easier.
- Keep a shop vacuum nearby to help clean up any messes. Even if you are very careful when cleaning your pet’s habitat, you’ll likely spill some bedding, feces and hair on the floor in the process. You don’t want to vacuum these types of things up with your regular home vacuum, as these things could damage the vacuum. Instead, use a shop vac, which is designed to deal with these types of materials.
- Set aside cleaning supplies for your guinea pigs. You don’t want to use the same scrub brushes and scouring pads for your pet and your home. This can spread bacteria around your home and cause you to become sick. Instead, pick up separate scrub brushes and scouring pads (as well as any other cleaning supplies you may need), which you’ll only use to clean your pet’s habitat.
- Establish a specific time to clean your pet’s habitat each week. It can sometimes be difficult to find the time to clean your pet’s habitat regularly. But, if you simply establish a consistent time each week for cleaning your pet’s cage, you’ll likely find it easier to find the necessary time and keep your pet’s habitat as clean as possible.
- Consider placing a plastic sheet underneath your pet’s cage. From time to time, your pet’s activity will end up causing bedding, hair and feces to fall through the cage wires, and end up coating the surrounding area. But, if you place a large plastic sheet underneath the enclosure, you’ll find that it is much easier to deal with these types of messes.
How Can You Keep a Guinea Pig’s Cage Clean?
While you’ll never be able to completely eliminate the need to clean your pet’s habitat frequently, you may be able to reduce the amount of time it takes you to do so. The best way to do this is by taking care of minor messes as soon as possible.
For example, if your guinea pigs spill their feeding dish, go ahead and clean up the mess – don’t simply allow the food to remain on the cage floor until your next scheduled complete cleaning. Similarly, if your pets spill their water dish, go ahead and change out the wet bedding before it can become contaminated with bacteria.
It is also wise to spot clean your pet’s habitat as frequently as possible. If you simply take five minutes to go over your pet’s habitat every day, you’ll find that complete cage cleanings won’t take as much time each week.
If you care about your guinea pigs, and you want them to live long healthy and happy lives, you owe it to them to keep their habitat clean. This is not only the humane thing to do, but it will also help prevent them from becoming sick. Just be sure to implement a regular and consistent cleaning schedule, follow the instructions and tips provided above, and set aside a dedicated set of cleaning supplies for your pet’s habitat, and you should have no problems.