How To Clean A Gerbil Cage (Step By Step Guide)

Are you bringing a cutesy gerbil home anytime soon? If so, you must know everything about keeping the little one happy and healthy. Yes, it includes cleaning after the tiny furball.

Okay, but how to clean a gerbil cage? Also, how often should I do it?

Key Takeaway:

Spot clean the cage daily, partially clean every week, and deep clean once a month. Wash the accessories, change the bedding, and remove rotten food and gerbil poop. You’ll need pet-safe cleaning solutions, fresh substrate, new chew toys, a temporary cage, and more supplies to do the job right.

Wow, that’s a lot to take care of. I’m freaking out!

Easy, human! Cage cleaning is easier than it may seem. Just a few basic steps, and you’ll have a sparkly home for your pet gerbils in no time.

Coming up next, we will answer all your curious concerns about how to clean a gerbil cage. It’ll help you be a better parent to your energetic pet.

Ready to take on the challenge? Let’s begin!

clean a gerbil cage

How to Clean a Gerbil Cage – Step By Step Instructions

Gerbils are the masters of low-odor living. They are desert animals with a talent for moisture absorption. They don’t pee like leaky faucets. And their poop? It’s dryer than the Sahara.

Do you know what that makes us? Lucky!!


…because a gerbil’s cage can go for weeks before we have to get our hands dirty in cleaning it. Not much smell either.

Okay, gerbils are desert champs. But that doesn’t mean you let their droppings become a dune and their urine turn the place into a funky oasis. Nope, no way! Keep that cage clean. It’s the secret to keeping your furry pal healthy and happy.

So, let’s see what the cleaning process looks like.

Step 1: Get Your Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning a pet cage, whether it’s for a gerbil, hamster, or rabbit, is not complicated. But soap and water won’t cut it alone. You’ll need a few essentials.

Gather the right supplies in advance, so there’s no need for a mad dash to the store. After all, your pet’s not exactly partying it up in their temporary digs, and we don’t want to keep them cooped up any longer than necessary.

Let’s get this cleaning show on the road! Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Pet-Friendly Disinfectant – Toxic-free and safe enough to use around your pet.
  • Gloves – Pick latex or rubber gloves for extra protection from germs and bacteria.
  • Sponges: The cage can use some good tough scrubbing.
  • Paper Towels – For wiping and drying the cage, plus any messes that may occur in the process.
  • Old Toothbrush – Useful for scrubbing hard spots in nooks and crannies and all the decorations.
  • Duct Tape – To cover any sharp edges or exposed wires.
  • Small Buckets: Don’t take your gerbil’s toys and home accessories to your kitchen sink. It’s unsafe.
  • Cotton Swabs: You want to get all the dirt and grime out from the decorations and tough-to-clean spots.
  • Shovel or Scoop: You have to deal with gerbil poop and soiled bedding, remember? Grab a shovel.

You’ll also need fresh bedding, a small container to keep old bedding, cage liners, and new gerbil toys.

Recommended Cleaning Solutions

This one's important because it's related to more than just your pet's home - his health. Anything that contains ammonia, chloride, phenol, and bleach is off the list. Fumes from these can cause respiratory problems and eye infections in gerbils.

So, try natural solutions like white vinegar or mild soap. Ammonia-free detergents are also safe for gerbil cages as long as they don’t contain any harsh additives. Also, avoid strongly scented items.

No scented products? Why?

Gerbils are known to mark their territory with a scent. Strong household cleaners will mask that scent, causing anxiety and stress to your little critter. He’ll feel uncomfortable in his own home. Unfair, right?

Step 2: Prep Your Gerbil for Cleaning Time

A deep clean means your pet gerbil must wait while you do all the dirty work. So, he’s going to experience a short bout of homelessness.

You need to up your game with the temporary housing. Create a cozy spot for your pet to hang out, one that’s big enough for him to stretch his legs. A terrarium or sterilized box with a cage topper (you don’t want any Houdini-like escape attempts) will work well. Animal playpens and bathtubs are good options too.

Wherever you place your pet, make sure he’s secure and comfortable. Provide enough bedding to nestle in, a food dish with your pet’s favorite snacks, and a water bottle to keep the little one hydrated.

Okay, but how do I move my gerbil?

Gerbils are timid and sensitive. Changes in sound levels, light, and temperature can make them uneasy. So, you’ll need to be careful while handling your little pet.

Don’t worry. We have some tips for you right here:

  • Coax your gerbil out of his abode by talking to him in a calm, soothing voice.
  • Use food bits and treats to entice your gerbil.
  • Gently scoop him up in your hands and place him in the temporary housing.
  • If you’re planning on grabbing his toys, too, keep it brief. Don’t keep your pet waiting for longer than necessary.
  • Avoid sudden movements and loud noises.

Got all that? Great, let’s move on!

Step 3: Remove All the Cage Accessories

It’s easier to work on an empty cage. So, grab your gloves and take out the accessories one by one – cardboard tubes, bridges, tunnels, chew toys, and your pet’s food bowl.

If the gerbilarium has any attached accessories like water dispensers and exercise wheels, remove them as well.

Dump everything in a bucket or container with soapy water. If your cleaning area is in another room, put the accessories in a sealed plastic box to avoid germ and parasite transfer.

Step 4: Get Rid of the Soiled Bedding and Substrate

clean out gerbils cage

Next comes the cozy resting area of your gerbil – his bedding. It’s soiled, however, so it needs to go in the garbage.

But wait! Don’t dump it all at once. Use a scoop or shovel to remove the poop and contaminated areas first. Then dispose of them safely away from other pets and children.

With the poop gone, you can get rid of the old bedding. Place it in a bag or container for waste removal. Check it thoroughly first; you don’t want any of your pet’s toys thrown away with the bedding.

What about the substrate and sand from the sand bath?

They need to go too. Use a rake to empty the tank.

Bonus Tip: Keep some old bedding safe to mix with the new one later. Your gerbil will love you for it.

Step 5: Disinfect the Cage

Everything out? Great job, parent. Now, let’s get to the main task.

But before you invest your muscles in vigorously scrubbing the grime off the gerbilarium, fill the cage with hot water and liquid dish soap. Let it sit to loosen the dirt, grime, and any remaining matter from your pet’s toilet business. You’ll thank us for this.

Done? Now, flush the soapy water with a garden hose or power washer.

With all the gunk gone, you can start scrubbing. Spritz the disinfectant and use the toothbrush to remove stubborn spots. Don’t forget to give extra attention to crevices and corners with cotton swabs.

Pay attention to the underside of the cage – that’s where gerbils love playing in their litter box. Use a sponge for easy cleaning.

Let everything air-dry before reassembling. Use lint-free cloths to wipe the cage dry if you’re in a rush.

Step 6: Wash the Accessories

Some gerbil owners like keeping things simple in the cage. It’s easier on the pocket and hands (when cleaning). But others like spoiling their furballs with a ton of accessories, including toys, food dishes, and even branches and rocks to mimic their natural habitat. If you’re the latter kind, here’s how you can clean your pet’s accessories.

Food Bowls and Water Bottles

Are your gerbil’s food bowls and water bottles dishwasher safe? Yes?

Lucky you, human!

Just pop them in and let the machine do its job. However, make sure you don’t have your own plates and cups inside. No matter how much you love your pet, it’s safer for you both to keep your utensils separate.

Waitttt….mine aren’t dishwasher-safe! Sniffles.

Hey, no worries. You can always wash them with your hands. You just need mild soap and a bottle brush cleaner (for the nozzle). Also, take some time to check the nozzle is still working properly.

Rocks and Branches

Ideally, rocks aren’t a safe prop to have in a gerbilarium. Your tiny muffins can get crushed under these if they ever topple. But if you’ve taken your safety measures or only have small rocks for aesthetic purposes, you’ll have to clean them too. Boil them in water for half an hour and pat dry. Simple as that.

What about the branches?

Branches deserve a spa treatment too. But there’s more to the process than just a twig bubble bath. You’ll also have to bake them at a toasty temperature of 200-250°F to kill germs. Two hours are good enough. Let them cool before putting them back in the cage.

Pro Tip: Remember, this cleaning method is for wooden branches only. No microwaving or tossing plastic twigs in the oven, please.

Step 7: Put in Fresh Bedding and Substrate

Now that the cage is squeaky clean, let’s fill it with your pet’s fluffy bedding. You’ll need at least 6 inches of the substrate so your curious critter can dig tunnels. Add hay; it helps build sturdier tunnels. Also, spread some old bedding over the new one to comfort your pet gerbil.

For the sand bath, mix 1-2 inches of play sand with chinchilla dust. Make sure the proportions are just right! Too much dust can irritate their eyes and noses.

Pro Tip: Freeze the new bedding overnight to kill mites and bacteria. Thaw it and bring it to room temperature before adding it to the cage. Thawing bedding can take days. So, start a few days before cleaning.

Step 8: Reset the Accessories

putting everything back inside gerbils cage

Time to redecorate your furry rodent’s sweet abode. Making changes to the settings won’t hurt. But keep it minimal – your pet may get overwhelmed if the whole scene changes every time you clean. Add a new toy, bury some food in the substrate, move a piece of furniture – consider it your interior designing job.

Always keep safety in mind when rearranging things. You don’t want heavy items to topple and hurt your pet.

Step 9: Bring Your Pet Back Home

You’ve done it! Now, let the judge decide. Bring your gerbil back to the cage and observe how he loves his new home.

Gerbils are sensitive to changes, especially if all their scent markings disappear after the cage-cleaning. So, give him some time to adjust.

Also, watch for potential health issues like sneezing and itching after cleaning a gerbil’s cage. If you observe any symptoms, consult your vet immediately.

Step 10: Clean Your Tools

You’re not done yet. You still have to clean and disinfect your tools.

Is it necessary? I’m drained.

Well, if you don’t want to spend extra hours disinfecting your tools before the next cleaning session, we recommend you do it now. Leaving them as is can also invite bacteria and mold, which can cause health issues.

It’s not rocket science, friends. Just give them a good wash and leave them to dry naturally. Also, store them safely away from children and pets until your next adventure.

How Often to Clean a Gerbil Cage

Gerbils are clean animals. So, as a caring pet parent, you’d want to keep their home sparkly clean at all times. But there’s a twist. Frequent cleaning can stress out your tiny fluffers.


Male and female gerbils use their scent glands to mark their territories. They use these markings to recognize their environments. Deep cleaning frequently will remove all the scent markings and make them anxious.

So, how often should you clean a gerbil cage?

There’s no absolute answer to this question. But there are a few factors that can help decide the cleaning frequency.

  • Cage Size: The bigger the cage, the less frequently you’ll need to clean it. Bigger cages provide more space for your pet to play and reduce waste build-up.
  • Substrate Type: If you use paper bedding or cat litter, you can squeeze in a weekly cleaning session. But if you prefer sand and hay, cleaning once a month is better.
  • The Number of Gerbils in a Cage: More gerbils mean more waste. If you have more than one sharing a home, you’ll need to deep clean your gerbil’s cage more frequently.

But let’s be real; cage cleaning isn’t exactly a fun job. We don’t blame you if you don’t want to deep clean often.

What do I do then? You strategize.

Here’s how:

  • Spot clean every day
  • Partial clean weekly

Let’s look at these two in a bit more detail.

Spot Cleaning Your Gerbil’s Cage

If you don’t want your gerbil to get sick, spot-clean his cage daily. It’ll also be easier for you when you have to deep clean – lesser stubborn dirt to tackle. Spot cleaning involves removing waste and uneaten food from the cage.

How to remove gerbil poop from the cage?

Use a dustpan, litter scoop, or paper towels to remove poop and pee stains. Always check the sand bath too. Replace the soiled sand with a fresh batch of chinchilla dust and sandbox mix.

You can also use a paper towel to clean up food splatter, spillage, and wet spots from the floor and walls. It’s crucial to remove these as they’re breeding grounds for bacteria and mold.

Will I have to remove my gerbil from his cage when spot cleaning?

Nope! Your little one can stay inside.

Partial Cleaning Your Gerbil’s Cage

What’s the point of partial cleaning if I’m spot-cleaning daily?

Giving the gerbilarium a quick clean every week will buy you more time before doing a deep clean.

We have a better reason too. Your gerbils will be able to keep their scent trails and tunnels for longer, and they’ll love it!

Okay, then, what does partial cleaning include?

It mainly has to do with keeping the substrate fresh. Take the opportunity to switch up your gerbil’s bedding game! Remove a different section of bedding to keep things fresh and avoid any funky smells.

Signs You Need to Clean Your Gerbil Cage More Often

Each gerbil has a unique personality. Some are cleanliness freaks, while others are mess makers. And so, you might have to change your cleaning frequency.

Here are a few signs that tell you it’s time for a deep clean:

  • You notice an unpleasant ammonia smell in the air.
  • Your gerbil is sneezing more often than usual.
  • The bedding looks dirtier than before, despite spot cleaning every day.
  • You see more than four poop piles in the cage.
  • The water bottle has a fungus-like film on the inside of it.
  • There’s a mite party going on in the cage.

Tips and Tricks for Gerbil Cage Cleaning

Dreading the gerbil cage cleaning day? Relax! We have some tips that’ll help make the process smoother.

Never Clean During Stressful Times

Gerbils get stressed too easily. When that happens, they can get sick. You don’t want that. So, avoid cleaning when your pet is pregnant, has a new litter, or isn’t in his best health.

Always Keep the Cage Nearby

When you move your pet’s cage to a different room, he’ll stress out because of all the changes. So, keep it as close to the original spot as possible. It’ll help reduce stress and make cleaning easier for you too.

Use Odor Neutralizers

Worried about smelly cages? Don’t be. Just use odor neutralizers like baking soda and charcoal to soak up all the bad smells before you deep clean. It’ll make the process a hundred times better.

Ways to Keep Your Gerbil’s Cage from Smelling

Are there ways to avoid smelly cages?

Yes! Here are a few tips that’ll help you keep your gerbilarium fresh.

Use Quality Bedding

Cheaper bedding soaks up odors quickly, making the cage smell worse over time. Invest in quality bedding like fleece liners or hay mats to prevent any nasty smells from taking over.

Increase Ventilation

Fresh air is a great way to keep the cage smelling nice and clean. So, make sure your gerbilarium has enough air circulation. Add small holes at the sides of the cage for better ventilation.

Give Your Pet a Good Diet

Gerbils love munching on yummy treats – sugary fruits, dried vegetables, and nuts. But too much of these can cause digestive issues that lead to smelly poop. Feed your pet the right amounts of healthy food to keep his poops from stinking up the cage.

Cleaning Like a Pro: Gerbil Edition

Gerbils, the active little puffs, are clean animals. Their cages don’t stink too much too soon. But if you ignore the mess for long, you’ll have a sick pet and a smelly home to care for.

So, maintain a cleaning routine and stick to it. Spot-clean your gerbil’s cage daily, switch up bedding weekly, and deep-clean the cage with all the accessories once a month (at least).

Whenever you decide to clean your gerbil’s home, use pet-safe cleaners. Toxic chemicals like ammonia and bleach can hurt your pet more than you think.

Did you find the information in this article helpful?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we believe every pet deserves the best care. So, we offer our readers as much information as possible. If you have a rodent or a reptile pet, our website has plenty of resources to make your job easier.

Check out our website today and start taking better care of your pet!

Happy cleaning!

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