Guinea pigs are soooo cute and lovable, and they all have their own unique, adorable little personalities. But it doesn’t take long to figure out that guinea pigs, like all pets, do have a downside. And here it is: Guinea pigs poop and pee a lot. And by a lot, I mean A LOT!!
We have tried everything in our cage from Carefresh paper bedding to Aspen wood shavings to homemade fleece liners to custom fleece liners. We find that custom fleece liners work best for our family and our guinea pigs. But how to keep the cage clean and smelling fresh? The truth is you will never completely eliminate the smell and mess, but you can definitely reduce it. Here are our top 5 Pro Tips to keep your guinea pig fleece bedding smelling clean and fresh:
1) Make sure your fleece has a good absorbent layer: The first thing to know about fleece liners is that you MUST have some kind of absorbent layer under the fleece. Throwing a couple of yards of fleece into the bottom of the cage isn’t really going to have the desired effect you are looking for. Some people make their own liners and use U-Haul blankets for the absorbent layer. Other people use towels, puppy pads or incontinence pads under the fleece. There is always a lot of discussion on social media groups about how to “wick” the fleece. In other words, you want the moisture to flow through the fleece and not pool on top of it. Some people say to soak in vinegar and wash a few times. But I have never had much of an issue with wicking. I think it might depend on the quality of fleece you are using. The $2.99 fleece throws you get at Walmart may not perform as well as a higher quality fleece you get at the fabric store. But it is a good way to start.
We have a 4x2 C&C cage with a 2 x 1 loft for our two piggies, Ginger and Cocoa. We currently use custom cage liners from Piggy BedSpreads, and we totally love them! They are made in USA and the quality is top-notch. We have two Piggy BedSpread liners, and we have literally washed one every week for the last three years and they both still look like new. They have a waterproof layer on the bottom, an absorbent layer in the middle, and fleece on top. The best part is that the liners go up and over the sides of the coroplast, similar to a bottom bed sheet. This makes cleanup fast and easy, and the guinea pigs can’t get underneath the fleece to cause trouble.
Other people swear by GuineaDad liners, but we haven’t tried them. There are also a lot of really nice handmade liners on Etsy. Here are two I recommend:
2) Set up a covered kitchen area: This has dramatically reduced the mess for us, but it doesn’t completely solve the problem, since it is next to impossible to potty train guinea pigs. To encourage them to go in their designated spot, we fill two plastic trays from the Dollar Store with Carefresh or Aspen shavings and put it at one end of the cage. We sometimes use low-profile produce cardboard boxes from Costco and Aldi instead of the plastic trays. We put the water bottle by one tray, and a soft, expandable hay bag that our daughter made by the other tray. Then, we drape a large piece of fleece over that end of the cage and clothes-pin it to make the piggies feel safe and secure. Sometimes we empty the trays after a few days, other times just once a week. Let your nose be your guide!
3) Sweep daily and do a full cage cleanout at least once a week: We are pretty strict about the daily sweep and weekly clean. Any less than that and the smell becomes overwhelming. A clean cage is also better for the health and wellness of your piggies. You can also change out the kitchen area and any fleece beds that might need it after a few days.
4) Prevent problems by preventing spills: Of course, our STAYbowl® Tip-Proof Bowl is another great way to reduce cage mess. We invented this bowl after we got tired of sweeping up and throwing out dumped and wasted kibble. Our two little princess piggies refused to eat any of the kibble after they walked, pooped and peed on it. This little bowl has actually saved us a ton of money and we no longer waste any kibble. It’s lower profile than most pet bowls, which makes it easier for the piggies to reach their food. In addition, the small size helps with portion control. The small STAYbowl® holds ¼ cup, which is just right for two guinea pigs, and the large holds ¾ cup, which is great for 3-6 piggies. Most vets say to limit adult guinea pigs to ⅛ cup - or 2 Tbl. - of kibble per day. More than that can lead to painful bladder stones or other health problems. They also recommend providing unlimited hay and water, and about 1 cup of fresh veggies every day. The STAYbowl® is available in two sizes and four colors here: www.wheekypets.com.
5) Use a Wheeky® Pets Laundry Helper: This laundry bag has made our weekly cleanup a breeze! It is a polyester bag with a special non-stick coating that keeps all the hay, hair and poops out of your washing machine. There are a few tricks to using this bag, though, so you will want to follow the detailed instructions that come with the bag. A few of these tricks include putting your laundry detergent and ½ cup of white vinegar directly INTO the bag, only fill the bag half-full, and to shake the wet fleece outside after the wash cycle before drying. Having the detergent concentrated inside the bag helps to lift the hair and debris out of the fleece, allowing it to fly away when you shake the wet fleece outside. Whatever small amount of debris that is left on the fleece will end up in the dryer vent trap. This bag is a lifesaver! Get yours here.
Those are our top 5 Pro Tips on keeping your guinea pig cages smelling clean and fresh with fleece liners! Please comment below with your own tips, or feel free to share this article with your friends!
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