Guinea pig fleece has become extremely popular in the past few years! Fleece cage liners are the easiest and most convenient way to use fleece. And you don’t have to spend a ton to buy them if you’re a little bit handy with a sewing machine.
This guide will teach you the basics of how to make fleece liners for guinea pigs!
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Fleece has become more and more popular as an option with guinea pig owners. Although it is an investment up front, it is reusable and machine washable, which saves a lot of money in the long run. You just wash your fleece in the washing machine and you can use it over and over again for years! It costs you a lot less than using disposable bedding like wood shavings – especially with proper cage size. I don’t want to imagine the cost of filling a c&c cage with paper bedding!
It also gives owners a lot of options for customizing their cages since there are so many different patterns. You can use pretty much any fleece design you can find in your cages to go for whatever vibe you want.
I also think cleaning cages with fleece is a lot easier. No scooping dusty bedding or taking out multiple bags of trash on cage cleaning night! Fleece does require spot cleaning on a daily basis, but it quickly becomes a simple part of your daily routine.
Plus it’s comfy for your piggies! Seeing guinea pigs enjoy their cozy fleece beds is a pretty great feeling.
How to Use Fleece for Guinea Pigs
Fleece can be a great option to use with your guinea pigs – but there are a few things you need to be aware of before committing to it.
First, if you use fleece you will have to do daily spot cleaning in your cages. Spot cleaning involves sweeping up all the poops and mess and changing out any fleece areas that are wet. This can’t be skipped! If the fleece is not kept clean and dry, it can cause respiratory issues or a bacterial infection very quickly and will be bad for your guinea pigs’ feet.
You also have to make sure you’re using fleece correctly. Fleece is not an absorbent fabric. The reason fleece is a great choice for guinea pigs is because it will allow liquid to pass through so your pet is not sitting in wet spots. This means there needs to be an absorbent layer underneath the fleece layer. This is not optional – without an absorbent material, your guinea pig will be sitting in wet spots, which isn’t healthy!
A fleece cage liner is convenient because it is made up of two layers of fleece with the absorbent layer permanently sewn into the middle. Some people will put a waterproof layer as the bottom layer instead of fleece (similar to a GuineaDad fleece liner).
Fleece also needs to be properly prepared – called “wicking” – before it’s safe to be used in your guinea pig’s cage. The wicking process removes the chemical coating from the fleece and allows liquid to pass straight through.
How to Wick Fleece
As I mentioned before, fleece has to be properly prepared before it’s safe to use in cages.
If you pour water on fleece that has not been wicked, water will stay on the top in a little pool and not soak through at all. We want that water to be soaking through almost immediately.
The wicking process might sound a bit intimidating, but it’s actually pretty simple. As simple as washing your fleece!
Place your fleece in the washing machine in hot water. Add free & clear detergent, a bit of white vinegar, and a small squirt of dawn dish soap. Run the washer on a regular cycle.
Once the fleece is washed, don’t put it in the dryer! First, you want to see if it’s fully wicked. Pull out a corner of the fleece and pour some water on the fabric. The water should soak right through in about 3-5 seconds. If it does, that means your fleece is ready to go.
If it doesn’t soak in or soaks in kind of slow, send it through the washer another time or two until it’s ready. You’ll want to test it after each cycle until it’s ready to go. With this method, it usually only takes a few washes.
Once the fleece is ready to go, I recommend just hanging it up to dry overnight. I’ve found some dryers remove the wicking properties and will shrink your fleece. If you want to test out your dryer, make sure to run the fleece through on the lowest heat setting.
Supplies You’ll Need to Make Fleece Liners
Before you can get sewing on your liners, you’ll need some supplies.
- Fleece fabric – blizzard fleece and anti-pill fleece work best. How much you need will depend on the size of your cage and how many liners you want to make.
- Absorbent layer – U-haul blankets (furniture pads) work fantastic. You can also use towels, mattress pads, washable puppy pads, or crib pads.
- Sewing machine – I recommend a heavy-duty model.
- Thread – I use 100% cotton
- Sewing pins/straight pins
- tape measure
If you want to make waterproof liners, you would just substitute one layer of fleece for a waterproof fabric instead. A commonly used waterproof material is a mattress protector.
How to Cut Out Your Pieces
The first thing you’ll do to start making your liners is cut out your pieces. Before you can cut out your fleece pieces, you need to determine what size cage liners you need to make. The easiest way to do this is to measure the bottom of the cage.
Measure the length and width of the cage you are making liners for and write those numbers down. We do need to add some additional length to those measurements to allow for the space we take up when sewing the liners.
When I make liners for my cages, I actually like to add a good extra 5 inches to my cage measurements to determine what size pieces to cut out. This allows for any shrinkage that happens when my fleece is being washed. This way, my liners are always bigger than I need and I don’t have to worry about them shrinking and not covering the entire bottom of my cages.
Once you know the length and width of the piece you need to cut out, measure out the length on your piece of fleece. Mark this length with your marker. Then, you want to line up the end of your measuring tape with the line you just drew and mark the width you need. I like to mark the width on both ends of the long line I drew so I can make sure to draw my last length line level.
You are basically measuring out a rectangle that matches the length and width of your cage, plus that 5 or so inches we added on. Once you have the first piece marked, go ahead and cut it out. You can then use the first piece as a pattern to cut around for the rest of your pieces.
To make a liner, you’ll need two pieces of fleece cut out and one piece of your absorbent layer.
Preparing Your Fleece for Sewing
With your fleece, you’ll be able to tell one side has a clearer pattern than the other side. You want to layout your first piece of fleece with this clear side facing up at you.
Next, lay down the other piece of fleece with the clear side facing away from you – so both the nice sides of the fleece will be touching.
Finally, lay down your absorbent layer on the top.
Line up the edges and pin all the way around the outside edge to hold all the layers together for sewing. When you pick up the liner, it should look like it’s inside out with the absorbent layer in the middle and the nice sides of the fleece touching the absorbent layer.
Steps to Sewing Your Liners
Now that you have your pieces all pinned together, it’s time to get sewing!
To sew all the layers together, sew about 1/4″ to 1/5″ away from the edge of the fleece. I like to sew on the fleece side, not the absorbent layer side.
You want to start in the middle of one of the longer sides. Sew a straight line all the way around the outside edge, being sure to not pull on the fleece too much. You want it to lay as flat as possible.
When you come back around to where you started, stop so you leave about a 6-inch hole from where you began. This is really important because you need this hole to turn your liner the right way out!
Once you’re done with this first seam, you want to cut off the excess material all the way around the outside. Don’t get too close to where you sewed – leave about 1/4″ of material so the seam stays strong.
Then, stick your hand in the hole and pull the entire liner right side out! This takes a little while, take your time and make sure to get all the corners poked out all the way. You want the liner to be nice and flat.
You’ll then sew up your hole. I like to just flip the edges of the material to the inside. Just roll them to the inside so the seam ends up looking the same way as the first seam that’s now on the inside. Then I just sew a line straight down the opening to close up the hole.
Finishing Your Fleece Liners
The last step to sewing your liners is adding another seam all the way around the edge of your liner. This will hold all the layers together and make them lay much nicer in your cage.
I usually sew this seam along about an inch to half an inch from the edge. Make sure to keep the liner as flat as you possibly can while doing this – otherwise you’ll end up with wrinkles or bubbles on the top of your liner.
I also usually do a second seam about 4 inches in from the first one. This, again, just helps hold the layer together better for washing.
Once you have these two top seams finished, your liner is complete!
How to Wash Guinea Pig Fleece Bedding
In order to ensure your liners last you for years, it’s important to take care of them the right way!
Washing liners is a super simple process. I wash my liners in hot water to get them extra clean. I set my washing machine on a regular cycle and use a regular amount of laundry detergent.
For detergent, you want to use some sort of free & clear, though the brand doesn’t matter. You don’t want it to have any added scents or dyes. Don’t use anything like fabric softener either. Guinea pigs have very sensitive respiratory systems that can easily be irritated by the scents in laundry detergent.
I recommend hanging fleece items to dry, but you can run them through the dryer on the no heat or lowest heat setting. I usually do a timed dry that doesn’t really use heat to get the liners dry.
Final Thoughts on How to Make Fleece Liners for Guinea Pigs
Sewing my own fleece liners has saved me a ton of money over the years I’ve owned guinea pigs. It is definitely an investment to purchase a guinea pig fleece liner. If you have a limited budget but time to spend making your own liners, I highly recommend you give it a try!
Learn More About Taking Care of Guinea Pigs:
- The BEST Cage for Guinea Pigs
- What Do Guinea Pigs Eat?
- The Proper Cage Size for Guinea Pigs – bigger than you think!