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How To Keep a Guinea Pig Cage from Smelling

One of the most common issues among guinea pig owners is how to deal with unpleasant cage odors.

The only way to deal with bad smells in your guinea pig cage is to clean the entire cage thoroughly. 

This involves removing everything within the cage and disinfecting it all before replacing the bedding and putting it back together.

Once this has been done, set up a regular weekly cage cleaning routine to keep odors away.

The process may sound simple, but you still want to make sure you do it right! 

This is where this guide comes in!

 Check out the rest for the details.

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Materials Needed

  • Water
  • Dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Stiff bristle brush
  • Spatula or razor blade
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic garbage bag
  • Odor control bedding (Available here)
  • Newspaper
  • Cage cleaning spray (Available here)
  • Small litter box
  • Guinea pig shampoo (Available here)
  • Towel
  • Soft-bristle animal brush

Gently Remove The Guinea Pig From The Cage

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The first thing you will need to do is remove the guinea pig from the cage while cleaning it.

Remember to handle your pet very gently to keep it from getting too stressed out.

Have a small plastic tub available as a temporary cage, and give the animal a place to hide so it will feel safer, such as a small cardboard box with a hole cut in it or a blanket. 

Since your guinea pig is used to having a hiding spot in its permanent cage, providing one in the temporary cage will make the animal feel more secure.

Keep an eye on your pet, and do not allow any dogs or cats near it to avoid frightening the small animal.

If you have someone else in your household, ask them to look after your guinea pig while you clean the cage.

Wash Everything from the Cage

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Next, you will remove all of the accessories from the cage, including toys, the food dish, and the water bottle or water dish.

Wash all of these items in mild dish soap and warm water.

Be sure to rinse everything thoroughly to remove any traces of soap and air dry or dry with paper towels. 

You will want to be sure everything is completely dry before placing it all back into the cage.

Set all of the clean accessories aside.

Remove The Bedding From The Cage

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Remove all of the old bedding from the cage and dispose of it in a plastic garbage bag.

If the bedding is particularly soiled, scrape it from the bottom of the cage using a razor blade or a spatula.

Be careful when removing the bedding, as it will contain urine and feces particles.

Wash The Cage With Soap And Water

Thoroughly wash the entire cage with mild dish soap and water. 

Disassemble the cage to ensure you are able to clean every nook and cranny.

Cleaning the cage outside is ideal if the weather is nice, but your bathtub will work fine.

Use a stiff bristle brush to thoroughly scrub the cage bottom and sides. 

You want to be sure to remove all traces of feces or urine on the cage, as this will cause foul odors to arise.

Rinse the cage with water to completely remove the soap.

Rinse The Cage With A White Vinegar Solution

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Before drying the cage, use a 10% solution of white vinegar and water to rinse the cage.

White vinegar will help remove any odors the soap and water did not get, and it will help keep the cage smelling nice.

Lightly rinse with water to ensure there is no vinegar residue left over.

Allow the cage to air dry or use paper towels to dry it.

The cage needs to be completely dry before replacing the bedding to prevent any mold growth. 

Mold is very harmful to your guinea pig, and it is something you will want to avoid.

Line The Bottom Of The Cage With Newspaper

Once the cage is completely dry, line the bottom of it with newspaper.

This will create a barrier between the bedding and the cage and prevent the cage bottom from becoming soiled easily.

Use a plastic cage liner if you have one large enough to fit your cage, but newspaper will also work very well.

Add Odor-controlling Bedding To The Bottom Of The Cage

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While you may certainly use any type of bedding you wish, an odor control bedding will keep the cage smelling fresher.

Place 1-3″ inches of bedding in the bottom of the cage.

Be sure to remove any wet or soiled bedding every day to keep the bedding as clean as possible. 

Fresh bedding should be placed in the cage every week.

Even though baking soda is known to be great at controlling odors, avoid using it. 

Guinea pigs have sensitive skin, and baking soda may irritate them.

Replace All Of The Cage Accessories

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Once the toys and feeding dishes are dry, place them back into the cage.

Place the items back into the cage in roughly the same areas as they were before.

Doing this will give your guinea pig a sense of familiarity, so it will not be stressed when you place the animal back into the cage.

Add A Small Litter Box To The Cage

While it is impossible to completely train a guinea pig to use a litter box, placing a small one in the cage will help to reduce odors.

Do not use clumping cat litter to fill the box. 

Instead, use the same odor-control bedding as you used for the bottom of the cage.

Placing the litter box in the same area where the animal usually goes to the bathroom will encourage the animal to use the box.

If you notice the pet uses another part of the cage to go to the bathroom, move the litter box to the same area.

Your guinea pig may not go to the litter box every time, but it will likely use the box enough to cut down on the amount of waste on the floor of the cage.

Scoop any waste from the litter box every couple of days, and do not use the same scoop you would use for your cat’s litter box if you have one. 

Cat feces contain toxoplasmosis, a parasite that is harmful to both humans and small animals.

Groom Your Guinea Pig

Since the cage is now completely clean and fresh smelling, grooming your guinea pig before placing the animal back into the pristine habitat makes sense.

Bathing guinea pigs should only be done 2-3 times per year, so if it has been a while since your pet’s last bath, they may be quite smelly.

Long-haired guinea pigs benefit greatly from regular grooming, as their long fur traps more odors. 

Consider trimming the fur near the animal’s rear to avoid having fecal matter trapped in it.

Use a shampoo specifically formulated for small animals, and be sure to thoroughly rinse the shampoo from your pet’s fur. 

Guinea pigs have sensitive skin, and any shampoo residue left behind will cause them to itch.

Check your pet’s ears for any residue. 

Guinea pig ear wax is typically gray and odorless. 

If the ear wax in the animal’s ears smells bad or is red, seek veterinary care. 

Your pet may have an ear infection.

Once you are done bathing your guinea pig, gently wrap it in a towel to keep the animal warm. 

These small animals are susceptible to getting too cold when they are wet, so you will want to make sure you keep the animal wrapped in the towel until it is completely dry.

Once your guinea pig is dry, gently brush its fur to remove any tangles. 

Regularly brush your pet to keep it clean. 

This will reduce the need to bathe your pet.

Suppose you have bathed your guinea pig and notice the animal still has a foul odor. 

In that case, you will need to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any possible underlying illness. 

Female guinea pigs are less likely to have an odor than males because they often do not scent-mark their territory.

Place your guinea pig back into its clean, odor-free environment.

Follow Up With A Regular Cleaning Schedule

Since you have done all of the work to deep-clean your pet’s cage, it makes sense to keep the cage as clean as possible to avoid any future odor issues.

Every day, you will need to scoop out any wet or otherwise soiled bedding. 

You will also need to clean your guinea pig’s food and water dishes every day to avoid any harmful bacteria from forming.

Establish a weekly cleaning routine to completely remove and replace the bedding and wipe down the bottom and sides of the cage. 

Use a cage cleaning spray to disinfect the cage during this weekly cleaning.

If you do not have a cage cleaning spray, a 10% solution of white vinegar and water will also work well to help control odor.

Be sure to thoroughly dry the cage after using the cage cleaning spray or the vinegar solution.

Once per month, you will need to conduct a deep-cleaning by following the steps above.

With regular cleaning, your guinea pig’s cage is less likely to develop a strong odor.

Video Instructions

  • 0:42 – Take Out All Stuff From Their Cage
  • 1:50 – Remove The Guinea Pig Safely
  • 2:37 – Remove Substrate Or Liner
  • 3:20 – Spray/Clean Liner Or Bottom
  • 4:10 – Add pads or substrate
  • 5:30 – Add/replace furniture items

Commonly Asked Questions

Why does my guinea pig cage smell so bad?

Guinea pigs are known to be a little smelly at times.

Most cage odors are caused by poor animal care, improper cage maintenance, or certain diseases in guinea pigs.

Adhering to a weekly cage maintenance schedule and regularly grooming your pet will help prevent any unwanted odors.

If you suspect your guinea pig smells bad because of a disease, seek veterinary care as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Do guinea pigs smell up a room badly?

If you are not properly taking care of your guinea pig or cleaning its cage regularly, it may develop a foul odor.

If the odor is strong enough, it may make the room where the animal is located smell bad.

Determining the exact source of the odor is not always easy.

To prevent a smelly guinea pig cage, follow the steps in this guide to completely deep-clean the cage and its contents. 

Stick to a weekly cleaning schedule, and deep-clean the cage once per month to prevent bad odors.

Regularly grooming your guinea pig will also help prevent the animal from developing a foul odor. 

Not only does brushing your pet keep bad smells away, but it is also a great way to bond with your pet.

Do not bathe your guinea pig more than 2-3 times per year. 

Guinea pigs have sensitive skin, and excessive bathing will cause their fur and skin to become dry. 

Dry skin will cause your pet to be uncomfortable and itchy.

Are there any foods I should avoid giving to my guinea pig to prevent a bad smell?

Certain foods will upset your guinea pig’s stomach and cause excessive gas.

Avoid foods such as iceberg lettuce, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Some suitable substitutions to offer your pet include bell peppers, cucumbers, and celery. 

Also, give your guinea pig leafy greens, such as kale or spinach. 

Only give leafy greens in moderate amounts due to their high calcium and oxalate content, which will cause bladder and kidney stones.

Other acceptable treats include kiwi, strawberries, and apples. 

Avoid citrus fruits because the citric acid irritates your guinea pig’s mouth and stomach.

Check out our post on feeding guinea pigs bananas for some cool information on this fruit and your pet.

What foods should I give my guinea pig to make it smell better?

Giving your guinea pig fresh hay is an excellent way to keep its teeth from becoming too sharp, and it will also keep the animal’s digestive system working as it should. 

Timothy, orchard, or meadow hay are all safe for a guinea pig to consume.

The hay will not necessarily make your guinea pig smell better, but it will keep the animal from having digestive issues such as diarrhea or excess gas.

Add mint, cilantro, parsley, or dandelion greens to the hay to make the cage smell better. 

You should use these greens in moderation because of their high calcium content. 

Related: Do Guinea Pig Feces Stink?

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