Keeping your guinea pig’s cage clean is extremely important for your pet’s health and well-being, and it is part of being a responsible pet owner.
If you do not clean the cage regularly, it will accumulate foul odors.
What if you need to clean your guinea pig’s cage, but you are out of the commercial bedding you usually use?
You may be surprised to learn there are several things in your home you will be able to use as bedding in the meantime.
In this list, we will explore six guinea pig disposable bedding alternatives you already have in your home and provide information on which alternative bedding should be avoided.
We also tell you what to look for when choosing bedding for your pet’s cage.
Guinea Pig Alternate Bedding Ideas
If you have an unused fleece blanket around your house, you will be able to use it to create a fleece liner to use as bedding for your guinea pig’s cage.
The soft material of a fleece cage liner is economical, sturdy, and will provide a warm and cozy bedding for your pet.
Once the fleece has been washed properly, it becomes a very absorbent material.
The only downside to using fleece for bedding is it will be more difficult to keep clean, so you will have to wash it more frequently.
Having multiple fleece beddings prepared means you will be able to swap them out when they are dirty, which makes using them more manageable.
When you wash your fleece pads, it is essential not to use fabric softeners or dryer sheets.
Doing this will cause liquid to pool on the fleece, which is unsanitary.
To prepare the fleece, wash it in hot water to remove the natural oily barrier, which causes the liquid to pool on it.
The idea is to make the fleece able to wick away moisture.
If the fleece has never been used before, you will need to wash it two or three times to remove all of the oils to make it more absorbent.
Use a mild detergent without any dyes or perfumes.
Along with the detergent, add about one cup of white vinegar.
The white vinegar works as a great substitute for bleach because it is completely safe and non-toxic to your guinea pig.
Once the fleece lining is done washing, place it in the dryer on the low heat setting to avoid shrinkage.
When the fleece is dry, it will be ready to use as bedding for your guinea pig’s enclosure.
If you have any puppy training pads on hand, layer them underneath the fleece an extra absorbent layer.
If you do not have any puppy training pads, a layer of towels under the fleece will also work well.
Daily spot cleaning is recommended when using a fleece liner, and you need to replace it with a new liner once per week.
Our post on how much bedding guinea pigs need will teach you the optimal amount of material to use.
If you have some empty shipping boxes around your house, you will be able to shred them to make some bedding for your guinea pig cage.
Tear the cardboard with your hands as much as possible.
Using scissors might create sharp edges, which will be uncomfortable for your pet and cause injuries like small cuts and abrasions.
Be sure to remove any tape or labels from the box before you begin shredding it.
Guinea pigs like to chew on cardboard, and you do not want yours to ingest any ink accidentally.
Many commercial inks contain toxins and are harmful to small animals if exposed to them for too long.
Since guinea pigs like to snack on hay, you probably have some stale leftovers in your home.
Hay will go stale after a while, so you might as well use it for bedding if you are in a pinch.
While hay is not as soft as a fleece liner, it is safe to use it as bedding in your guinea pig cage.
Remember to scoop out any wet or soiled hay to avoid any potential mold or mildew growth.
Straw is a by-product of hay production, and many gardeners use it as an alternative for mulch.
If you have any extra straw lying around, you may use it as a temporary guinea pig bedding substitute.
However, since straw is not very absorbent, you will not want to use it long-term.
This lack of absorbency creates a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
This bacteria will cause severe lung and upper respiratory issues and may even lead to death.
Straw is also very coarse and has many sharp edges, which may be harmful to a guinea pig’s eyes and ears.
Straw may be used in an emergency, but never use it as a long-term solution.
Everyone has a bunch of extra papers in their home.
Junk mail, old school assignments, and old work papers are good options for guinea pig bedding.
You will need to shred them into smaller pieces to create fluffy bedding.
The main drawback to using shredded paper as guinea pig bedding is the inks used for printing.
Most commercial inks contain chemicals that may be harmful to your guinea pig over long periods.
Shredded paper will work as guinea pig bedding in an emergency, but you will need to avoid using it for longer than a few days to prevent any dangers to your pet from the ink on the paper.
Because of its lack of absorbency, shredded paper is messy and challenging to keep clean compared to other bedding alternatives.
Newspaper is inexpensive and abundant, depending on where you live.
Many convenience stores, cafes, and bookstores throw away their old newspapers.
If you subscribe to your local newspaper, you likely have a bunch of it in your home.
Shred the newspaper before using it as bedding to make it softer and more comfortable for your guinea pig.
Newspaper also contains a lot of ink, so it should only be used in an extreme emergency for a short period to avoid causing any harm to your pet.
What Do You Need To Avoid Using As Guinea Pig Bedding?
Softwood shavings used in pine and cedar bedding contain a chemical substance that can cause serious harm to your guinea pig.
Avoid using any type of bedding with softwood listed as an ingredient.
Cedar and pine shavings emit an acid that will permeate the cells lining the lungs and trachea of a guinea pig.
There are also toxins in this type of softwood bedding which will cause severe liver problems in your pet.
Aspen shavings are considered safe, but they are not very absorbent and should not be used for an extended period.
Wet bedding will create bacteria which will emit a strong odor if not taken care of right away.
Commercial paper bedding is also not recommended due to the amount of dust it produces.
You also do not want to use cat litter as bedding, especially the clumping kind.
Cat litter is extremely harmful to a guinea pig if it is ingested.
Litter also creates a lot of dust, detrimental to a guinea pig’s very sensitive respiratory system.
Further reading: Using cat litter for guinea pigs.
Many farmers use ground corn cobs as bedding for farm animals.
Corn cob should not be used as bedding for guinea pigs because it will cause severe digestive issues if eaten.
Lesser-Known Guinea Pig Bedding Options
Can You Use Newspaper For Guinea Pig Bedding?
Newspaper is not a long-term solution for guinea pig bedding.
Not only is it messy and non-absorbent, but it is covered in ink.
Commercial inks contain many chemicals that are harmful to your guinea pig if it is exposed over a long period.
Can You Use Shredded Paper For Guinea Pig Bedding?
Like a newspaper, shredded paper is not good for guinea pig bedding because it is not very absorbent.
If the paper has any kind of ink on it, the chemicals from the ink will be harmful to a guinea pig over time.
In an emergency, you may use shredded paper, but it is best to look for safer alternatives like cardboard.
Can I use a towel for guinea pig bedding?
A soft towel may be used as guinea pig bedding if you run out of commercial bedding.
It is a good idea to have several towels on hand for back-ups because they will get soiled very easily and need to be replaced.
Always be sure to use a clean, dry towel in your guinea pig’s cage.
A wet towel will cause your guinea pig to get cold, which will lead to respiratory problems.
Can you use puppy training pads for guinea pig bedding?
Puppy pads are soft and absorbent, so they would make good temporary bedding for a guinea pig cage.
You may want to layer several pads to create a more comfy surface for your pet.
Using puppy pads may be very expensive, so most guinea pig owners will only use them in an emergency if they have run out of their regular commercial bedding.
Can you use sawdust for guinea pig bedding?
Sawdust is not a good choice for guinea pig bedding. Because sawdust particles are so small, it creates a lot of dust.
Guinea pigs have very sensitive respiratory systems, and this dust will get into their lungs and cause severe illness.
A respiratory infection may be fatal because of the small size of the animal.
Is hemp bedding safe for guinea pigs?
Because hemp bedding is not made with chemicals, it is an excellent choice for your guinea pig.
Not only is hemp very safe for small animals, but it is highly absorbent.
Hemp has terrific moisture-wicking properties and has been proven to absorb up to four times its weight in liquids.
Why Is Bedding So Important For Guinea Pigs?
Bedding not only provides comfort for a guinea pig but also absorbs liquids like urine and water.
This absorbency keeps foul odors from permeating the enclosure and prevents the spread of harmful bacteria.
Respiratory infections caused by bacteria are one of the leading causes of death for guinea pigs.
Any type of simple bacterial infection has a chance of leading to severe illness and death.
It is extremely important for the bedding to be absorbent to prevent these kinds of diseases from happening.
Bedding is also helpful for keeping the cage clean since you will discard any soiled portions of it.
Dirty bedding will harbor a lot of bad bacteria and create unsafe conditions for your guinea pig.
You will need to spot clean the bedding every day and place fresh bedding in the cage once per week.
How often should I change guinea pig bedding?
Scoop out any wet or soiled bedding every single day to keep the cage clean.
Completely replace the bedding once per week, and deep-clean the enclosure at least once per month.
Can you put baking soda in the bottom of the guinea pig cage?
While baking soda is very useful for absorbing odors and moisture, it will irritate your pet’s skin if it comes in direct contact with it.
Baking soda is also an irritant to a guinea pig’s sensitive lungs if any of the particles are inhaled.
This will cause serious health issues in your pet which may even be fatal.