Fleece Bedding for Guinea Pigs: Pros and Cons & How to Use It
Fleece bedding for guinea pigs is popular amongst piggy parents, whether they want a nice-looking cage or the comfiest home for their fur babies.
Fleece bedding comes in many styles, looks great, and is comfortable on guinea pigs’ feet. It’s also cheaper in the long run than disposable bedding, eco-friendly, and doesn’t contain dust that can damage your guinea pigs’ respiratory systems. However, fleece is pricier to start out with and requires doing laundry regularly.
In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of fleece bedding for guinea pigs, how to use it, and more!
Pros of Fleece Bedding for Guinea Pigs
One of my favorite parts of fleece bedding (though not my wallet’s!) is that it comes in so many fun patterns and colors. This allows you to truly customize your guinea pigs’ cage, whether you want a dreamy pink wonderland or a bright, yellow sunflower theme.
Many people change their piggies’ bedding based on the season or decorate for the holidays.
When shopping online or making your own supplies, it’s easy to get caught up in matching your guinea pigs’ fleece liner to their tunnels, hidey houses, and pee pads to create a theme.
Personally, I also like the look of fleece better than disposable bedding. However, that does come down to personal preference.
Guinea pigs live the majority of their lives in their cages, so we want them to be as comfortable as possible. Fleece bedding tends to be softer on their little feet than other bedding types.
Fleece items also hold warmth more than some other materials, and are great for cold seasons or if you have a skinny pig. These piggies’ lack of fur makes it super important to keep them on plush, warm surfaces.
Fleece is also great for senior piggies or those with joint issues, as it cushions their feet and is easy to walk on.
Doesn’t Cause Health Problems
There are many unsafe bedding options on the market, from those that don’t absorb urine well to dusty disposable bedding that can harm your guinea pigs’ lungs.
Fleece won’t do either of those things. When it’s wicked and has an absorbent layer beneath it, fleece can stay dry for an entire day (or several, depending on how messy your guineas are).
This stops your piggies from sitting in their own urine, which can cause health problems and also just makes them messy.
It also doesn’t contain any dust, so it won’t cause upper respiratory infections (URIs). If your guinea pig has a history of URIs, it might be a good idea to switch to fleece or another dust-free bedding type.
Cheaper in the Long-Term
Fleece is expensive to start with, but if you’re planning to get guinea pigs, you can use the opportunity to save for fleece liners and pee pads before adoption. Then, you forego the ongoing cost of buying bags of bedding each week.
Since fleece liners can be reused throughout your guinea pigs’ lives, they’re not going to add up in costs like disposable bedding does.
While many people choose to buy more fleece than they need, you can easily get by with only two liners. That way, you’ll have one to use while the other is in the wash.
Can be Custom-Made
If you’re worried about getting a fleece liner to fit your homemade cage, don’t be! They can be custom-made, either by ordering from a shop or making your own.
It might sound intimidating, but making your own fleece liners can be as simple as lining the cage with a layer of towels for absorbency, then adding the pretty fleece on top.
We’ll talk more about how to use fleece below, so keep reading!
Lastly, fleece bedding is eco-friendly because it creates the least amount of waste possible. You can reuse fleece liners for years at a time, especially if you care for them well.
Cons of Fleece Bedding for Guinea Pigs
More Expensive to Start
Fleece bedding is usually the most expensive option to start with. Even though it saves you cash in the long-run, some people don’t want to spend so much at the offset—especially if they’re unsure fleece will work for them.
This is completely understandable, and something you should consider before making a decision.
Fleece bedding can’t just be tossed into the cage like your disposable options. It needs to be wicked, which involves washing it in hot water multiple times. You’ll also need an absorbent layer if you don’t buy a liner that already comes with one inside.
However, once you get your fleece prepared, all you’ll need to do between cage cleanings is wash it.
Frequent Spot Cleaning
Disposable bedding can often hide the many, many poops a guinea pig makes a day as it sinks beneath the surface. With fleece, the poops sit right atop.
You’ll need to spot clean the cage more often to keep it looking nice. You might also want to buy small pieces of fleece, known as “pee pads” to cover areas your guinea pig likes to hang out. Pee pads help by absorbing pee in these frequently-used places, keeping the big fleece liner cleaner longer.
With disposable bedding, you could just toss out the bedding in the saturated area—but it gets a bit more complex when using fleece.
Holds Onto Debris
Hay and fur tend to cling to fleece, making it a pain to clean when it’s kept in a guinea pig cage. While this can be remedied by brushing off the debris from the fabric and using mesh laundry bags, this takes time. Some people would rather not deal with the hassle.
With disposable bedding, it doesn’t matter if hay gets stuck to the material, since it’s going in the trash anyway.
If you’d like to continue using reusable bedding, but having to clean up fleece is too much work, consider switching to bath mats. Bath mats also make a great guinea pig bedding and the hay doesn’t stick to them so they’re easier to clean.
The thing that seems to worry people most when it comes to fleece bedding is the extra laundry. Some people feel they have enough to worry about with human laundry, while others worry about potential damage to their washing machine.
There’s no getting around the fact that fleece will create more laundry. However, it doesn’t have to wreck your washer.
The best way to wash fleece is to thoroughly brush off hair and hay before washing. Then, place the fleece into mesh bags to keep any leftover hay from winding up in your washer.
Use an unscented laundry detergent, as scented products can harm guinea pigs’ respiratory systems. White vinegar can also help to eliminate odor.
That said, all of the things listed above—mesh laundry bags, guinea pig-safe detergent, vinegar, and even your water bill going up—cost money.
I personally find it worthwhile for the money saved by not buying disposable bedding each week, but your experience might be different!
Not Sold in Pet Stores
The last drawback is that you’re very unlikely to find fleece bedding at the pet store, which makes it less accessible than other bedding types.
Fleece can be found at many stores if you’d like to DIY some liners. I’ve found fleece at craft stores, thrift stores, and even the dollar store (though it tends to be lesser quality).
If you don’t want to make your own fleece bedding, you’ll likely need to get online and order from a small business. But we could call supporting small businesses a pro as well!
How to Use Fleece Bedding
Fleece bedding requires preparation before you can start using it. It needs to be wicked so that pee soaks through and into the absorbent layer, instead of leaving a puddle.
1. Wick Your Fleece
Wicking fleece is easy, but a little tedious. Here’s how:
- Wash your fleece on a hot cycle with scent-free laundry detergent. You can add vinegar if you’d like to help disinfect and remove odors. Don’t use fabric softeners on any guinea pig items.
- Dry the fleece in the dryer or allow it to air dry.
- Repeat the above steps 2-3 times, or until the fleece wicks properly.
- Test your fleece by pouring a small amount of water on the surface. If the water soaks through quickly without leaving a puddle, your fleece is wicked! If not, run it through the washer again.
2. Add an Absorbent Layer
Beneath your fleece fabric, you’ll need an absorbent layer. This is necessary if you’ve bought only a piece of fleece, or if you’re sewing your own liners.
If you’ve bought a fleece liner, it likely already has an absorbent layer sewn in.
Absorbent layers can be anything that will soak up your guinea pigs’ pee after it soaks through the fleece. Popular options include:
- Old towels
- Puppy pee pads (disposable or reusable)
- U-haul blankets
- Mattress protectors
Some people use newspaper, but I don’t recommend this as it’s less absorbent than the other options.
3. Use Pee Pads for Easy Clean-Up
Pee pads aren’t necessary, but they’ll stop you from washing your cage liner as often. They make spot cleaning super simple and you won’t be doing nearly as much laundry—who doesn’t like the sound of that?
Pee pads are basically fleece liners, only smaller. They’re made of fleece with an absorbent layer sewn inside.
Place pee pads where your guinea pigs spend the most time, such as in their hides or near their hay pile. Check them daily and change them out when they’re soiled.
Types of Fleece Bedding
There are several kinds of fleece bedding, from ready-made liners to plain fleece you buy at your local craft store. Everyone does things a bit differently depending on what aligns with their budget, free time, and preferences.
Here are some fleece options to consider:
- Ready-made liners from businesses like GuineaDad — These are the easiest to use, but typically the priciest, as you’re paying for labor and shipping as well as materials.
- Handmade liners — Making liners yourself can be much more cost-effective, if you know how to sew or want to learn.
- Fleece layered and unsewn – Some people choose to buy fleece and lay towels or other absorbent materials beneath, which is a simple way to line the cage without sewing anything together.
I hope this article has helped you make a decision when it comes to using fleece bedding. The primary things to remember are: wick your fleece, use an absorbent layer, and add in some pee pads if you find yourself doing too much laundry.
While fleece does come with its drawbacks, it’s popular for a reason! It’s easy to use, washable, and gives your guinea pigs a plush, beautiful cage.