How to Clean a Guinea Pig Cage: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to clean a guinea pig cage

Adorable, gentle-natured, and expert snugglers, guinea pigs are genuinely wonderful pets. Compared to other small rodents, they tend to have a relatively long lifespan and can live until the ripe old age of eight.

When you first welcome all that fluffy cuteness into your home, you may not realize just how often you’ll need to clean their cage. Sure, the lady at the pet store told you to clean it when it’s dirty, but what does that even mean?

How often should you change their bedding, scrub their cage, and wash their toys?

There’s no need to panic! We’ve got you covered with this comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to clean a guinea pig cage. With our easy-to-follow guideline, you’ll know exactly how to create a clean, safe, and healthy environment for your little fluff balls.

Daily Spot Cleaning for a Healthy Cage

On a daily basis, you’ll need to give the cage a good look-over to see if there are any particularly dirty spots. 

To ensure your guinea pigs have clean, healthy surroundings, do this every day:

  • discard uneaten food,
  • sweep up piles of waste,
  • change any excessively soiled bedding,
  • use a damp paper towel to spot-clean the cage if needed.

If there’s a water spill in the cage, clean it up, and replace any food or hay that was affected.

Prevent bacterial growth in water bottles/bowls and food containers by regularly washing them in hot, soapy water.

Weekly Cage Cleaning for Proper Sanitation

Guinea pig cage

Scheduled weekly or bi-weekly cleanings are necessary to keep your pets’ cage hygienic and odor-free. Daily spot-cleaning isn’t enough, considering your pets eat, sleep, play… and poop… in their cage.

Whether you’ll clean the entire cage once or twice a week depends mostly on the type of bedding you’re using. Here’s how often different types of bedding need to be changed:

  • Paper bedding – in most cases, paper bedding should be completely changed once a week. If your guinea pigs tend to toilet in one place in their cage and you spot-clean that area daily, you might need to change it less often.
  • Wood shavings – same as paper bedding, it can take one week to get dirty and start stinking or more if your guinea pigs are only toileting in one area.
  • Fleece – there are different fleece products and liners, and some might start stinking sooner than others. Usually, changing the fleece bedding every 3-4 days is enough, but if you find it starts to stink sooner, you might have to change it more often. If your guineas have good toilet habits, you might only need to change it once a week.
  • Bath mats – bath mats should be good for around 3-4 days before they need to be washed, but, again, it depends on the bath mat, and you might have to change more or less often.

Now, let’s start cleaning!

1. Empty the Cage

First things first, you’ll need to remove your fluffy friends from their cage and settle them into a safe, temporary location like a playpen with hay, water, and a few toys to keep them occupied. Don’t leave them to roam the house unsupervised; they’re likely to wander off and get into trouble.

Now, take out all objects from the enclosure. From food bowls to chewing toys, absolutely every item needs to be removed.

2. Wash Cage Items & Remove the Bedding

Wash items that can be cleaned, like the water bowl or bottle, food container, and plastic houses, in hot, soapy water.

Next is removing and changing the bedding. This step is different based on the type of bedding you’re using – washable bedding such as fleece or bath mats or disposable bedding such as paper or wood shavings.

Fleece or Bath Mats

Launder washable material such as fleece or bath mats in a washing machine with an unscented and hypoallergenic laundry detergent (“free and clear”) such as Tide Free & Gentle. Before doing so, ensure that droppings, food particles, and hay aren’t stuck to these things. A small vacuum and rubber brush work great for removing debris from fabric.

I recommend using a wash bag to wash fleece liners, bath mats, and blankets to keep debris from wracking your washer.

You can add a splash of distilled white vinegar to the softener drawer, which helps neutralize odors and removes unpleasant smells from the fabric.

Disposable Bedding

If you’re using disposable bedding, remove the remaining material from the cage and throw it in garbage bags. Basically, you’ll be taking out the old, dirty bedding, hay, droppings, and litter.

To speed up this process, you can use a small brush and a dustpan. Scoop up the dirty bedding with the dustpan, and dump it into the garbage bags.

3. Scrub the Cage, Rinse, & Dry

Guinea pig vinegar cage cleaner

Clean the entire enclosure using a one-part distilled white vinegar and one-part water spray. This particular mixture is strong enough to kill some bacteria but gentle enough for delicate guinea pig noses.

While water and vinegar solution is the best natural cleaner for regular use, if your guinea pigs have ringworm, bacterial infection, or similar health issues, you’ll need to use a veterinary disinfectant like F10 to make sure the cage is 100% germ-free.

After cleaning the cage with vinegar/water spray, you’ll still want to give it a good rinse. Even though it’s diluted, the vinegar spray will need to be washed off. Once rinsed, give the cage a good sniff. If you detect a strong vinegar scent, rinse it again.

Using towels, dry the enclosure, and make sure to get into every nook and cranny. Ideally, you’d let the cage air-dry. But if this isn’t possible, just ensure there’s no dampness left behind.

Before adding bedding, run your hand across the surfaces of the cage. If you feel any wetness whatsoever, use more towels. The goal is to get the surface 100% dry because moisture creates mold problems, which can affect your pets’ health.

4. Rebuild Your Pets’ Habitat

Clean guinea pig cage

Now that you know your cage is perfectly dry, you can line it with your favored liner or bedding material.

Once the bedding is in, spend some time arranging your pet’s items in the cage. You can experiment with changing the placement of the cage furniture to see how they like it. A new cage setup can give curious piglets an exciting adventure.

Before placing your pets back in their piggy condo, add the water, piles of hay, food bowls, and also hide a few healthy treats around their new digs to liven up their return. After popping your pets back inside, securely attach the cage door.

All that’s left now is to enjoy watching them scurry around and wheek in delight with their lovely, freshly cleaned living area.

Guinea Pig Cage Cleaning FAQs

How often to clean a guinea pig cage?

Spot cleaning needs to be done daily to ensure a healthy environment for your piggies, and a cage needs to be thoroughly cleaned approximately once a week, although this depends on the bedding you’re using and how often it needs to be changed.

What to clean a guinea pig cage with? How to disinfect the cage?

The best guinea pig cage cleaner is a mix of distilled white vinegar and water (1:1 ratio) in a spray bottle. This natural cleaner is gentle for guinea pigs’ noses and completely safe for our pets. Avoid scented household cleaners packed with aggressive chemicals.

Remember that although this homemade vinegar/water solution can kill some germs, it cannot completely disinfect the cage as commercial disinfectants.

If one of your pets has a communicable disease or your cage is growing fungi and you need to use a disinfectant to get rid of all those nasties, use a guinea pig-safe veterinary disinfectant like F10.

Use unscented and hypoallergenic (“free and clear”) laundry detergent such as Tide Free & Gentle to wash fleece, bath mats, and other fabric items. Add a splash of vinegar to the softener drawer to remove bad smells.

Is vinegar safe for guinea pigs?

Yes, vinegar is safe for guinea pigs, but you should still rinse the cage with water after washing it with vinegar.

How to keep a guinea pig cage clean longer?

It doesn’t take long for guinea pigs to defile a freshly cleaned cage. You turn around for a second, and there’s a fresh pile of poop waiting to be cleaned all over again!

While this is just one of the perks of having guinea pigs, and you can’t do anything about the amount of waste and mess they produce, there are ways to keep the cage cleaner for longer. 

Guinea pigs do most of their pooping and peeing where they eat, so you can set up a “kitchen” or litter box area with smaller pieces of fleece (pee pads) or guinea pig-safe litter material. Add a pile of hay to encourage your pets to spend time in that part of the cage and do most of their business there. This way, you can switch out the pee pads or remove soiled litter daily and the main bedding will stay clean for much longer.

You can also add pee pads to other places where your guinea pigs spend a lot of time and where they tend to pee – such as hidey houses. Check them daily and change them out if they’re soiled.

What’s your guinea pig cage cleaning routine? Let us know in the comments!

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    1. You can use a vinegar and water solution (1:1 ratio) in a spray bottle. That is most commonly used among guinea pig owners and it’s safe for the piggies. Or you can use a small pet cage cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle Cage Cleaner.

  1. I have two questions:
    1. I don’t usually spot clean my guinea pig’s cage and clean their water bottles and food bowls every day. In fact I usually clean the bowls every other week, same for the water bottles. Is that okay?

    2. Also, I don’t use bedding, except for some in their eating area, but my guinea pigs eat the newspaper I put down in their rest of their cage. Then, there is nothing to absorb their urine and the cage starts to reek. What should I do besides put more bedding?

    1. Hi, water bottles and food bowls should be cleaned at least every few days. Unfortunately, all kinds of bacteria can creep up inside the water bottle in 2 weeks.

      I recommend putting fleece at the bottom of their cage with an absorbent layer under it, or ready-made fleece liners. The absorbent layer will absorb the pee so your guinea pigs won’t have to walk on wet floors and it will prevent odors for a few days until fleece needs to be changed.

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