Fleece bedding for guinea pigs has become more and more popular over the past few years. You can see people using it on YouTube, Instagram, even Tik Tok now. However, I’ve seen a lot of videos of people who are actually not using fleece properly. For fleece to be a safe and effective bedding option for guinea pigs, it needs to be used correctly!
In this guide, I’m going to explain fleece guinea pig bedding, how it works, and how to use it properly in your guinea pig cages!
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Why use fleece guinea pig bedding?
Fleece has become a popular option for guinea pig bedding over the past 10 years. The main benefit of using fleece is that it is washable and reusable, which makes it a much cheaper option in the long run than regularly buying disposable bedding.
Fleece keeps your pet clean and dry when used properly. It’s also more comfortable for your pet, and you can customize your cages with whatever fleece patterns and colors you want. There are also a ton of cozy fleece bed and hide options you can find.
There are both pros and cons to fleece, which we’ll cover more in-depth in a second. But I want to get the most important note out of the way right now!
Fleece guinea pig bedding requires daily maintenance. You have to spot clean fleece every day – this means sweeping up the poop and hay on the fleece and changing out any fleece that is wet. This is why a lot of fleece users have smaller pads they use in high-traffic areas. You can change the smaller pads often without having to change the entire cage.
Before we jump into how to use fleece, though, let’s talk about how it works.
How fleece bedding for guinea pigs works
In order to use fleece correctly, you need to understand how fleece works to keep your pet dry. You actually should be using a fleece layer and an absorbent layer in your cage for the fleece to be working the way it’s supposed to.
First, you have the fleece layer, which is the top layer. This is the layer your pet walks around on and the cute layer that you see. It’s called fleece bedding so this layer is pretty self-explanatory.
The best types of fleece to use for guinea pig cages are blizzard fleece and no-pill fleece. This layer needs to be prepared correctly by putting it through a “wicking” process, which we’ll talk about in a minute. When the fleece is wicked, it allows liquid to pass straight through the fleece and keeps the top layer nice and dry.
If the liquid is passing through the fleece, that means it needs somewhere to go! There needs to be a layer used under the fleece that is super absorbent. This is the step that I’ve seen a lot of people missing when using fleece.
Without the absorbent layer, there is nothing that is keeping your pet from standing in wet spots all over their cage. Fleece is not an absorbent material and will not absorb the liquid – it will just sit in the cage where your pet could walk, sit, or lay in it.
Having your pet constantly sitting in wet spots in their cage will lead to health problems like urine scald and respiratory infections.
To recap, when using fleece bedding you should have a properly wicked fleece layer with an absorbent layer underneath. Both layers are essential!
How to use fleece for guinea pig cages
There are two main methods available to use fleece in your cages.
First, you can just use a piece of fleece and a separate absorbent layer underneath. You’ll lay your absorbent layer down on the floor of the cage, and then layer a single piece of fleece on top. That’s all there is to it!
You can buy fleece from a fabric or craft store, or even Walmart usually has fleece in the crafting section. Make sure to buy a piece large enough to cover the floor of your cage. As I mentioned before, blizzard fleece or anti-pill fleece are the best options.
Options for absorbent layers include Uhual furniture pads, crib mattress pads, puppy pads, and towels. Uhaul furniture pads are super absorbent and are one of the most popular options used as an absorbent layer for guinea pigs. You can buy them at the Uhaul store or online on their website.
Some guinea pigs do like to burrow under the fleece, which is a common problem with this method. If your guinea pig is getting under their fleece, you can try placing heavier hides and accessories on the corners and edges, binder clipping the fleece to the sides of the cage, or tucking the edges of the fleece under the base of the cage.
You could also use cage liners. I personally use these because they make cleaning cages super quick and easy. Cage liners are made by sewing an absorbent layer, usually a Uhaul pad, into the middle of two pieces of fleece. It’s super easy to just throw the entire liner in the washing machine instead of dealing with separate pieces. You also can use both sides of the liner which can give you more fleece pattern options. Since they are heavier than just a single piece of fleece, guinea pigs are much less likely to try and go under them especially if the cage floor underneath is slippery.
Liners can definitely be expensive upfront, but they last a very long time. I have liners that I made when I first got my guinea pigs about 7 years ago that I still use on a regular basis.
And on that note, if you have any experience with sewing you can make your own liners to save even more money! I actually have a video series and a printable guide that shows you how to make liners step by step.
How to wick guinea pig fleece
Now that you understand how fleece works and how to use it correctly, let’s talk about how to properly prepare your fleece to use in your cages. When the fleece is properly wicked, the liquid will soak through the fleece in just a few seconds – it shouldn’t sit on top of the fleece.
There are a few different options you can try for wicking your fleece. I have a main method that has worked pretty well for me, but I’m going to share the second option in case you have especially stubborn fleece.
The method I’ve always used for wicking fleece mainly involves washing my fleece several times. I use free and clear detergent and run my fleece through the washer three to four times on hot water. Do not dry the fleece in between each cycle, just restart the washer. I usually only use detergent on the first and second cycles unless the fleece really isn’t wanting to wick.
I like to pour a little water on my fleece between the third and fourth washes to see how well liquid is soaking through- you want the liquid to soak in almost immediately. I’ve found in most cases 3 or 4 washes does the trick. I then hang dry the fleece once it’s done.
The second method for wicking fleece also involves a washing machine. You’ll also use free and clear detergent for this method, but you’ll also need white vinegar and dawn dish soap. You’ll put your fleece into the washer like normal with your detergent, then add a small amount of dish soap and white vinegar to the load. Test whether the fleece is wicking after the first load to see if it needs to go again. This method can work a little faster than the first method depending on your washing machine and also seem to work for stubborn fleece that doesn’t want to wick!
Once your fleece is wicked, it’s ready to use in your cages. You won’t have to go through the wicking process again either – when fleece is wicked it usually stays that way! You can just wash it normally after using it in your cages.
How to wash fleece bedding
Speaking of washing fleece, let’s talk about how to take care of your fleece items.
I wash my fleece in one load for liners and one load for beds. I think this gets everything a bit cleaner and helps my beds last longer.
Before putting your dirty items in the washer, make sure to get as much hay and mess off as possible. Shake, brush, or vacuum off your fleece as much as possible so you aren’t putting a bunch of hay and hair into your washer.
To wash guinea pig fleece, I use hot water and a regular wash cycle to make sure everything gets nice and clean. You want to use a laundry detergent that has no dyes or scents. The best option is a free and clear detergent, though the brand really doesn’t matter. You can also throw some white vinegar into the wash as well to make sure your fleece gets extra clean and doesn’t have any lingering smell.
Once you’ve washed your fleece, I recommend hanging it to dry. You could also dry it on the lowest heat setting or no heat setting if your dryer has one, but don’t use a dryer sheet. Using heat to dry your fleece can shrink your liners. I’ve also found that some fleece will lose its wicking properties if put in the dryer. In general, avoiding heat when drying your fleece will help it last longer.
After I’ve washed my fleece, I like to take a hand vacuum and vacuum out any pieces of hay that ended up in the washing machine. If the fleece I was washing was particularly dirty, I will also run a small empty rinse cycle with a bit of vinegar to get the washer clean before putting our clothes in.
Final thoughts on fleece guinea pig bedding
Fleece can be a great bedding option that saves you money and keeps your pet clean and comfortable – if you use it right! If you think fleece will be the best choice to use with your guinea pigs, there are a lot of different places you can buy it, like Amazon and Etsy. Or, if you want to save even more money on your guinea pig care, you can try your hand at making your own liners! Make sure to check out this series I created that shows you step by step how to make fleece cage liners for guinea pigs.