Using Fleece for Bedding in Your Guinea Pig Cage
Fleece instead of bedding?
Many guinea pig owners are beginning to discover the use of fleece in their cages rather than bedding. It sounds a little ridiculous right? Not as much as one may think. Fleece is a unique material, as when it is washed and dried several times, liquid can actually pass straight through the fabric rather than be absorbed into the fleece itself. This leaves the surface of the fleece dry and comfortable for several days, depending on how many piggies may be living together.
Benefits of Fleece
There are many benefits that come from using fleece rather than bedding. Here is a list of some:
- Hello?! It saves money! Instead of buying bag after bag of wood shavings, buy a couple separate yards of fleece, and they can be washed and reused as much as desired.
- Fleece is more eco-friendly. Reusing fleece and towels means less waste overall, especially if you hang-dry it in warmer seasons.
- There are tons of different colors and patterns to choose from, and piggies enjoy the color it adds to their home, some even "popcorning" when their fleece is changed to a new design.
- Cleaning the cage will be much easier, as all that is needed is spot cleaning throughout the week, and a load of laundry at the end of the week.
- The cage will appear much more tidy and clean, not to mention stylish.
- The soft material of fleece is very easy on piggies' feet, and comfortable as well.
- If the fleece is properly cleaned and well maintained, it can reduce the smell of the cage altogether.
How to Prepare the Fleece
One common misconception people make about fleece is that it can just be simply bought and placed in the cage without preparation beforehand. This is very untrue.
Once you have purchased your fleece, the first thing you need to do is wash and dry it at least 3 times with a mild detergent. Do not use fabric softener, as this will prevent the fleece from being able to wick at all.
Now that you have washed and dried your fleece 3 times you are ready to begin layering. As I have mentioned before, liquid will pass straight through the fabric leaving the fleece dry to the touch, but this doesn't mean the liquid disappears out of nowhere. You need to have something underneath the fleece to catch the liquid.
There are a lot of options for layers below the fleece. Many people use old towels, puppy training pads, mattress pads, or newspaper. I personally feel that using towels is the best choice. Old towels are free, and can be washed and reused as often as the fleece itself. Newspaper can tend to absorb the liquid too quickly and actually stick to the fleece, which will produce odor faster and leave you with a bigger mess. Puppy pads work great for absorption, but can get pricey. I have never used mattress pads personally, but I hear good things about them.
When you layer your materials in the bottom of your cage, use one layer of fleece, and at least 2 layers of towels, puppy pads, etc. Using two layers of fleece would not be a good idea, because you want the liquid to pass through the fleece quickly and effectively, which can prove hard if it has to pass through more than one layer. Start from the bottom laying your lower layers first, and then finally your fleece on top.
The Liquid Waste is Taken Care of, but What About the Solids?
Though it is rare, guinea pigs can be trained to use a litter box. If your piggie is not one of the lucky minority, having a litter box in the kitchen area is a good option. Find a small litter box or shallow rectangular bin that is big enough for the guinea pig to comfortably stand and eat, and place it under your hayrack on one end of the cage. Guinea pigs generally like to do their business where they eat, as well as in corners. Most of the solid waste will be left in the box, which can then be cleaned out as often as desired. The remaining waste that is left astray throughout the cage can be spot cleaned once or twice a day.
Avoid These Types of Litter/Bedding:
- Cedar bedding. This is very dangerous. It can cause respiratory problems and allergies and is not good for the guinea pigs at all.
- Clay-based or clumping cat litter. Guinea pigs are very curious and like to eat everything, and once this type of litter gets wet, it sticks together or expands. It's not hard to figure out what that can do to a guinea's insides.
- Sawdust. It is very bad for piggies' lungs.
- Newspaper with a lot of print or ink. It is also too absorbent and can be smelly or messy.
- Paper-based bedding. Not only is it completely safe for the guinea pigs, it is eco-friendly.
- Pellet bedding
- Aspen or pine bedding (pine must be aired out or it can be dangerous)
- Make your own with shredded plain paper or newspaper with very limited ink.
Some Helpful Tips For Fleece
I've noticed a lot of the same questions coming up about using fleece. Below are a few helpful tips that will make your fleece experience only more enjoyable:
- For Static Cling - Add white vinegar to your load of wash. Not a lot, maybe a half cup. This will reduce static cling and acts as a natural fabric softener without altering the fleece's ability to wick. In warmer weather, hang dry your fleece and towels; you'll be guaranteed to have zero static cling, and you'll be saving energy!
- For Pesky Hair - All piggies shed, but if your pig happens to shed more than most or has long hair, buy a cheap lint roller at a dollar store to remove excess hair stuck to fleece during spot cleans and before washing the fleece.
- Binder Clips - My favorite thing. You will find endless uses for these, whether it be pinning fleece to the side of the cage to make piggy tents or keeping your piggy food bag closed. You'll also find yourself losing them as often as you lose a sock in the wash, so buy a couple packs in different sizes.
- S-Shaped Hooks - If you're using fleece you also most likely have a C&C cage. Hook these to the outside of your cage, and then hang your lint roller and hand broom from them. You're one step closer to being a master of organization.
- Leftover Fleece - Cut up leftover fleece into small squares to make piggy tents and hidey spots in the corners of your cage. Your pigs will thank you, I promise. Use leftover fleece to make small, flat pillows for your pigs to nap on (my pigs love their beds). A good tip for male pigs who like to scent after a routine fleece change? Keep a scrap of fleece in the cage at all times and never wash it. Your pig will be less likely to scent the cage if he can already smell himself. Still running out of ideas for extra scraps of fleece? Toss a scrap in the cage and see what your pig will come up with. You'll be surprised how much use they make out of piggy-sized blankets.
Now that your fleece is placed with the bottom layers in your cage, you are ready to start saving money and enjoying the clean and improved look of your guinea's home. This fleece can be washed as often as desired, but generally once a week is fine.
A good idea when using fleece for bedding is to buy a small vacuum or a hand broom with a dustpan, as they both work very well for spot cleaning the cage throughout the week. Enjoy!
Happy pigs with clean fleece
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.
Questions & Answers
If you use fleece as bedding for your guinea pig, won't the fleece eventually smell of pee and poop?
Fleece smells better than regular shavings would because the poop can be regularly swept and cleared from the cage; the fleece will stay dry if you prep it properly. Any bedding will eventually start to smell. With my two boars, I washed the fleece and cleaned the cage about once every one to two weeks.Helpful 37
When buying fleece, should I buy more sheets, or can my guinea pig just have one that is washed frequently?
Yes, we used to buy three to four so that we could continually rotate them.Helpful 19
My issue is that my guinea pigs like getting underneath their fleece bedding. Do you wrap your fleece underneath towels or layer underneath?
For our guinea pig's bedding, we wrap the fleece around towels, same as you would tuck a sheet under a mattress. You could binder clip them in some spots together too, that might help.Helpful 20
Why do you need to wash the fleece three times?
Because it takes about three times for the fleece to be able to let liquid pass through it rather than absorb. You want it to stay dry, so your cage doesn't get stinky, and your pigs' feet stay clean and dry.Helpful 17
Can this be a good alternative for rats as well?
I wouldn't think so. Rats are much smaller and might be able to squeeze through the cube openings. They also would probably chew the fleece.Helpful 7