I love DIY projects, and I made fleece liners for my guinea pigs' cage. I'm happy to share this fun and easy project with others.
DIY Washable Bedding for Guinea Pigs
Whether you're looking for a way to save some money or to make your cage-cleaning chores easier, you'll love these liners. They have an absorbent layer in the middle to keep your pets dry, and everything is machine-washable. Even if you aren't a sewing expert, these liners are easy to make and will pay for themselves.
Step 1: Gather Materials
First things first, you need to get your supplies.
- Fleece: You'll probably want enough fleece to make two liners so you can use one while the other is being washed. Each liner has a top and bottom piece, so consider buying two different colors (or patterns) to be able to tell which way is up. I bought enough fleece to be able to make smaller pads to put in the corners and along the sides where they tend to make more mess. This way, you can just swap out a couple of small pads when needed.
- Absorbent pads: Aside from the fleece, I purchased some absorbent pads that are typically used to keep mattresses dry. Although I don't think you absolutely need to include this layer, I would strongly recommend it. I found the pads in the bedding section of a department store.
- Sewing machine: The third major item you need is a sewing machine (for obvious reasons).
You'll also need some miscellaneous supplies—check out the full list below.
- Tape measure
- Seam ripper
- Quilter's pen (optional)
- Rotary cutter (optional)
- Cutting mat (optional)
Step 2: Prepare the Fleece
Before you get started, it is best to pre-wash your fleece. New fleece has a water-repellent quality, so you need to break that down to allow water to pass through.
I washed the fleece a few times in warm water, and it seemed to work fine. I've read that you can add vinegar to the wash to speed up the process. Either way you choose, let the fleece dry in between washes and drop a bit of water on it to see if water is absorbed.
Step 3: Measure Twice, Cut Once
Measure the length and width of your cage and add 1 inch to each measurement. This will be the size to cut your fleece. The extra inch gives you a half-inch seam allowance when you'll be sewing the pieces together.
Be careful when cutting the fleece as it is very stretchy and becomes distorted easily. I used a rotary cutter and cutting mat to cut my pieces. If you are using scissors, you can mark your lines with a quilters pen to assure you cut straight lines.
My cage measured 23.5 by 46 inches, so I cut my fleece and absorbent pads to 24.5" x 47". I used 9" x 9" squares for the changeable pads (for a final dimension of 8" x 8"). As you can see from the picture below, the absorbent pad wasn't quite long enough, so I had to sew two pieces together. I've included pictures below to explain how I pieced them together.
Step 4: Assemble the Pieces
So now you will assemble the pieces. Decide which fabric will be on top and which will be on the bottom. I chose to use my blue fabric for the bottom—I thought it would be easier to remember that way.
- Start your fabric sandwich by laying your top fabric (my green) right side up.
- Lay your bottom fabric next, right side down.
- Your absorbent layer goes on last with the absorbent side facing up.
- Pin your layers together and sew with a half-inch seam allowance. Leave an opening so you can flip the fabric inside out.
Step 5: Finish the Pieces
Once you've flipped your liner inside out, hand-sew the hole closed. Now you're going to sew through all the layers to keep everything from moving around. I chose to sew around, leaving about 2 1/2 inches between each round. It doesn't have to be extremely precise; I just marked my corners with a couple pins and free-handed the rest.
Step 6: Modify the Absorbent Pad (if Needed)
Because the absorbent pad wasn't as long as my cage, I had to cut two pieces. I cut them about an inch and a half longer than needed to allow for some overlap. I adjusted the pieces to measurement, pinned the layers together, and sewed up both sides of the seam.
And that's it! Place the liners in your cage and watch how your pets love the soft and comfortable bedding.
I hope you have found this tutorial helpful. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Kyle on July 15, 2020:
I purchased some “polar fleece” from amazon for this and I have washed it several times in hot water as suggested but water still won’t go through, any idea why?
Brooklyn on May 02, 2020:
What kind of fleece do you need to make fleece liners. Is it better for the fleece to be a bit thicker or a bit thinner?
Karla on April 04, 2020:
I was going to make my own but I was wondering what exact (or any other good ones) absorbant pads were used.
el on April 01, 2020:
thanks so much for this! it was very helpful. i'm getting two rats in a few months, and don't really want to buy liners when i have the things to make my own. thank you!
Katherine on March 27, 2019:
In my experience with fleece, it has rarely shrunk if at all. It is is made of polyester which leans on the non shrinking side. Flannel on the other hand is cotton or cotton blend and that will shrink.
Kim on February 24, 2018:
I'm so excited to do this thank you for the idea.
CarteDuJourFarms (author) from New Brunswick, Canada on January 07, 2018:
It can shrink in the wash depending on the fleece. It shouldn't shrink very much after you've gone through the pre treatment washes though.
5 on January 06, 2018:
Will the fleece shrink when you wash it?
Piggielover2017 on September 06, 2017:
Do I have to use fleece for both the top and bottom layers? I was going to use an old bed sheet for the bottom.
Carol on September 03, 2017:
Rylee yes you can hand sew the whole thing.
Rylee on July 27, 2017:
Can I hand sew the whole thing? I don't have a sewing machine and can definitely not afford one:/
Ivery on June 18, 2017:
Update: I liked my four piece finished product of fleece+waterproof fabric+utility fabric and the guineas love it. Totally waterproof, absorbent, cleans so nice. ONE problem with my alternative is that in the washing machine it is incredibly heavy. It washes like a large, dense comforter or rug. I re-made one with fleece and sandwiched just the utility fabric in the center. It absorbs great and washes much more like a fleece blanket. If you have trouble finding the utility fabric (sometimes referenced as jersey) or waterproof fabric I mention, ask your store for the fabrics used to make diapers.
Ivery on June 15, 2017:
My fabric store didn't have the bedding inserts, and I didn't want to buy the expensive inserts just to cut them to size. So instead, I bought the waterproof fabric and absorbent fabric used in cloth diapers to line the middle of my fleece sandwich. I took a coupon, and it turned out cheaper than the pre-made liners from a bedding store. Plus, it's the perfect fit the first time without extra cutting.
ainsley620 on December 20, 2016:
I'll be trying this. I just got a guinea pig yesterday and I would like to convert his cage bedding to fleece.
Virshone on October 19, 2016:
You can also use large foam puzzle piece flooring for the bottom...works well over my wire bottom!
Sandy on September 22, 2016:
Hi Amy I would suggest you use correx on the bottom of your cage piggy's don't do well on wire bottom. Correx is great easy to clean and will protect your floors. hope this helps.
Bambii on August 30, 2016:
I cant wait to try this! I've been wanting to get back into sewing and what better way than by spoiling my piggies and making life a bit easier for me! I hope you post again soon!
peanut on June 21, 2016:
this is a great article, i used it to make my liners for my midwest home. I have to warn everybody though, the fleece will shrink in the wash when you are pre washing it. I had the correct measurements and i pre washed it about three times and it had shrunk three inches!!!!! I was very disappointed and angry that the article did not say anything about this. please take this into consideration before using this article, and before buying fleece. i didn't know beforehand that fleece shrunk. otherwise this pattern worked wonderfully and was easy to follow. I highly recommend this article apart from the fleece shrinking dilemma.
- a customer
Brenda on May 27, 2016:
I live in a college town, in aug when the students have moved in, I go to the local Uhaul shop. They throw the moving pads AWAY!!! Ive gotten over 20 pads for free and use them in the middle, doubled. I have 3x6 C&C cages, so to make it easier, I dont even sew!! I lay down a doubled pad (with it being 3 wide, I have to use a pad and a half) lay fleece on top, my cage sits inside the fleece a few inches on each side and bam, no sewing. Sweep daily, complete cage clean once a week. Wash and reuse. I have several fleece and a couple sets of pads.
no on May 18, 2016:
Does this stink after about 2 days? Do you have to clean it? Do you put it in the washer to clean it?
Amey on April 19, 2016:
When you sew through the liner does that not allow possible leaks through? I am looking into making a few liners for my C&C cage, that will sit on top of the wired bottom which will be on the floor. I do not want to mess up my hardwood floor with moister leaks. Please let me know if you had any issues with leaks after sewing through the liners.
Kate on March 20, 2016:
Do the pets burrow under the bedding and leave a mess under it ?