Keeping your guinea pig’s cage clean can feel like an overwhelming chore.
Fortunately, cleaning requires just a few minutes each day to keep the cleaning from being overwhelming.
Spot cleaning needs to be done daily, but a more thorough cleaning only needs to happen once each week.
This detailed guide will help you to keep your cavies safe and healthy in their cage.
Table of Contents
- Clean fleece pads
- Distilled white vinegar
- Spray bottle
- Clean washcloth or paper towels
- Free and clear laundry detergent
- Fresh bedding (Available Here)
Dispose Of All Used Litter And Bedding
The first step is probably the most obvious one when it comes to cleaning your guinea pig cage.
You have to remove all of their soiled litter and bedding.
You may do this through spot cleaning daily or a complete overhaul once a week.
While it is a bit more convenient to do an overhaul and just get rid of everything, spot cleaning takes a bit more finesse to save the parts which are still usable.
Use a small litter scoop to get in the cage and filter out what needs to be replaced.
If you are only spot cleaning, then make sure to focus on the areas where your guinea pig spends the most time.
For example, you might find more soiled bedding tucked away in the corners of the cage, around or under their hiding toys, and any other key areas where your guinea pig relaxes.
Remember to replace the bedding with fresh, even if you are only spot cleaning.
You want to make sure there is plenty of new bedding for them to burrow in or go to the bathroom on.
During the week, you might only need to replace a handful of fresh bedding instead of replacing the entire cage.
Clean The Litter Box
One way to keep your cage clean for more extended periods is to litter box train them.
Find the area where your guinea pig likes to go to the bathroom the most.
You will likely find this is either in the corners of the cage or possibly in their kitchen area.
Set up a litter box in this area, line it with pee pads, and reward your cavies for going to the bathroom in the proper place.
This will make your daily spot cleaning much easier as you will just need to replace the pads in this section of the box.
If you decide not to use pads, scoop out old bedding with a litter scoop and then replace it with fresh bedding.
Once a week, you will need to do a thorough cleaning of your litter box.
Remove all the disposable bedding and use a safe cage cleaner to wipe it down.
Most experts recommend using a safe cage cleaner like distilled white vinegar and water to wipe down important cage areas.
Remove Excess Food And Hay
Chances are you have already noticed your guinea pig may not eat everything you give them each day.
One crucial tip to keep their cage clean is to clear out excess food from the day before.
This might include wilted vegetables, scattered hay, or even just pellet food left in their food bowls.
Unfortunately, your cavies have the habit of going to the bathroom where they eat.
This means the kitchen area of your cage is likely to see the most soiling.
You do not want your guinea pig to keep eating food mixed with their excrement.
This is why clearing out their kitchen area daily is good for them.
If you use a hayrack, you might not need to clear out all of their extra hay each day.
Instead, simply top it off with fresh and focus on cleaning other areas of the cage.
Keeping uneaten food out of the cage will prevent maggots.
Read our post on guinea pig maggots and flystrike for more information.
Cleaning Food Bowls And Water Bottle
While you are clearing out their excess food from the day before, you might also want to take the time to wash out their food bowls.
Washing their food bowls eliminates the residue of old food and prevents the buildup of bacteria.
Make sure to wash both the interior and exterior of the dish.
After cleaning the bowls, also focus on their water bottle.
Wipe down the exterior, clean the interior, and fill it up with fresh water daily.
The water bottle also has the potential to grow bacteria and mold, so daily cleaning ensures your guinea pig always receives fresh and clean water.
Be careful when choosing a soap to wash out these items.
You want to choose something which is not going to harm your cavies.
Pro-tip: Many people recommend using hot water and white vinegar in a 1:1 ratio as a safe cleaning option.
Replace Disposable Bedding
For those who use disposable bedding, you need to replace it all at least once a week.
If your disposable bedding is mainly contained within the litter box, you may have an easier time with this part of the cage cleanings.
All you will have to do is dump it all directly in the trash.
If you keep bedding over the entire cage, you need to remove your cavies to clean.
Place them in an exercise run or in a safe playpen where your other pets cannot get to them.
This will give you more freedom to simply upend your cage into a trash bag to get rid of all their soiled bedding.
Before replacing it with clean bedding, wipe down the litter box or cage.
Some pet stores sell cage cleaners specifically formulated for cavies and other small rodents.
These formulas are gentle, leave no residue, and have little to no smell, which could affect your guinea pig.
If a safe cage cleaner isn’t around, make your own with hot water and white vinegar.
Just mix them in equal parts in a clean, empty spray bottle.
Spray down the cage and then wipe it up with a clean washcloth.
Be sure to rinse it thoroughly and then dry it before adding any dry bedding into your newly clean cage.
Clean Fleece Bedding
Some guinea pig owners prefer to use fleece over disposable types of bedding.
This bedding choice requires a few extra steps to clean.
Replace the fleece every few days, but you might want to save up your used pads to wash them all once a week.
This means you will need several sets of clean fleece available to get you through each week.
To clean your fleece pads, you must first brush off any debris.
If there is any excrement on your fleece, brush it into the trash can or compost pile.
Shake it off outdoors, use a handheld vacuum, or brush it clean using a lint brush specifically for cage cleaning.
There are many ways to approach giving your fleece a thorough shakedown.
From here, wash your fleece pads in the washing machine.
Always wash them using a cycle with hot water to help kill germs and bacteria.
You need to purchase special free and clear detergent with fewer chemicals and no scent.
Always add a quarter cup of white vinegar into the load to help disinfect the fleece.
Never use fabric softener on your fleece, as it can detract from the fabric’s natural ability to absorb water.
Pro-tip: If you have used fabric softener on your pads in the past, wash them on a hot rinse cycle with white vinegar to eliminate the residue caused by fabric softener to get your fleece back to its natural absorbent state.
While you are washing the fleece, wipe down the rest of the cage with cage cleaner or vinegar and water.
Wipe out the cage with paper towels or a clean washcloth used solely for cleaning the cage.
Remember not to use soapy water as it can leave residue in your cage, which can negatively impact your guinea pig’s health.
Clean Cozies And Hideouts
Guinea pigs are prey creatures which means they are used to being hunted.
To keep your pets happy and comfortable, you do need to include cozies and hideouts where they can get away from the hustle and bustle of life.
Of course, these items also need to be cleaned while you are doing a deep clean of their cage.
Cozies are washed in the same manner as fleece bedding if they are made of cloth.
Always wash them with hot water and a clean and clear detergent.
Mix in a quarter cup or a half cup of white vinegar to act as a stronger disinfectant.
Avoid using fabric softener or dryer sheets.
Toss them in the dryer to speed up the process.
Hideouts made from plastic are cleaned the same as the rest of the cage.
Because they have many nooks and crannies, you might find it easier to soak them in vinegar and water instead of wiping them down.
Make sure to rinse them off thoroughly and allow them to dry or hand dry them before putting them back in the cage.
Wooden hideouts are a bit trickier to clean.
If you notice your wooden hide needs to be cleaned, there are a couple of different ways to approach it.
First, some owners like to bake it in the oven at 350° degrees Fahrenheit (177° C) for about twenty to thirty minutes.
However, most people prefer to clean it with vinegar.
If the hide has absorbed urine, soak it in vinegar and water like with the cage’s rest.
Sand off the dirty or stained areas to make it look good as new.
When you are finished, allow it to dry completely before replacing it in the cage.
Wood does absorb what you put into it, so vinegar is the only recommended cleaning agent.
It is safe and non-toxic for your guinea pigs.
The wood may taste a bit strange when they go to chew on it for a little while, but it will not adversely affect their health.
You will likely find the flavor may not even deter them from chewing.
By the way, it’s also critical to know why guinea pigs chew on their cages and how to stop it.
Replace Everything In The Habitat
Once everything has been cleaned and dried, it is time to refresh your habitat.
You should only do this once the bottom of the cage has been cleaned out with an effective cage cleaner, rinsed, and dried.
Once you finish with this task, add more absorbent bedding or fleece bedding to make the cage functional again.
Refresh their food, hay, and water.
Put back any of their hideouts or toys you may have confiscated for cleaning purposes.
This is also a great time to switch up their cage.
You won’t want to move the placement of their litter box, but you might want to rearrange toys or add new ones to give your cavies a bit of enrichment.
They will love exploring their cage as if it were brand new again.
How Often To Clean A Guinea Pig Cage
Guinea pigs are quite high maintenance, but it helps to stay on top of their cage cleaning with daily spot cleaning.
They can get their cage very dirty fairly quickly, so this daily cleaning is an absolute necessity.
Your cavies need a fresh kitchen and litter box area daily, or your cage will start to smell, and their health may be affected.
If you are using fleece bedding, replace it with a new one every couple of days.
Make sure to have multiple fleece pads, so you only have to do laundry of your critter’s bedding once a week.
This will save you both time and energy.
As long as you are swapping out their food daily and scooping out soiled bedding, most owners often get away with only cleaning their cage fully once each week.
This is the time to wipe everything down and sanitize it thoroughly with vinegar and water.
Make sure everything is dry before replacing your food bowls, water bottles, hideouts, and cozies.
You’ll also want to adjust feedings if they’re too small, so check out our guinea pig size chart to see what to expect.