Everything you need to know about washing fleece bedding for guinea pigs.
Fleece has become one of the most popular options for guinea pig bedding in the past few years. I have used fleece for nearly eight years now, and I get asked all the time how to keep fleece bedding clean and in good condition. I’m going to go over how to use fleece, how to wash fleece bedding, explain how to get fleece to wick for the first time, and give you some tips on keeping your fleece clean!
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Is Fleece Bedding for Guinea Pigs Right For You?
Using fleece as bedding for guinea pigs does have its pros and cons. Here’s a quick run down to help you decide if fleece is right for you.
First, it’s reusable and washable. This is definitely the biggest benefit of using fleece. It’s very convenient because you can’t run out and you just throw it in the washing machine when it’s dirty. If you have a c&c cage for your guinea pigs it can be very expensive to cover the whole bottom of the cage with paper bedding or wood shavings.
It also comes in just about any color or pattern you could want, which makes for some fun cage themes. Guinea pigs love it too because it’s extra soft and comfy.
The main con for fleece bedding is that it requires daily cleaning upkeep. Cages must be spot-cleaned daily to make sure your piggy isn’t sitting in any wet spots. If the fleece isn’t kept clean it can easily lead to upper respiratory infections in your piggies.
Fleece is also a bit of an investment upfront. Even though it will save you money on disposable bedding in the long run, cage liners can cost a decent amount. When you start adding in small pads for high-traffic areas and fleece cozies it can add up quickly.
How to Use Guinea Pig Fleece Bedding
Before we get straight into how to wash and take care of fleece, I want to quickly go over how to use fleece bedding. It’s important to use fleece the right way or it can create an unhealthy environment for your pets.
I have an entire blog post about how to use fleece bedding properly, so make sure you check that out if you want more detail. This is just going to be a quick overview.
For fleece bedding to work how it should, you need to have an absorbent layer with a fleece layer on top. The fleece needs to be properly prepared, or “wicked.” When prepared and used properly, fleece works by allowing liquid to pass through the top layer to be soaked up by the absorbent material underneath. This keeps the surface where your piggies are living dry and clean.
You can use pieces of fleece just layered over an absorbent layer, or you can use fleece cage liners that have the absorbent layer sewn inside. Absorbent layers are usually something like U-haul blankets, mattress protectors, or towels. You can also find waterproof liners that are great for lap time and floor time. Many guinea pig owners also use smaller pads in high-traffic areas and under the water bottle to keep liners cleaner and dryer longer.
When it’s time to clean the cage you just brush off the hay, poops, and other mess and pop the fleece in the washer!
How to Wash Guinea Pig Cage Liners
Washing your liners after using them in the cage is actually very simple!
There are a few things to remember when washing fleece:
- Always use free and clear laundry soap with no scent.
- Washing in hot water gets them cleaner.
- Make sure your fleece still wicks properly after washing and drying.
When I clean cages, I brush all the hay, poops, hair, and anything else that’s on the fleece into the trash. You can also take them outdoors and give them a good shake. I want to get as much off as possible so all that isn’t going into my washing machine! Some people do use a laundry bag to keep any hay or hair from getting in their washers.
I then just load up my washer. Make sure to pack your washing machine super full or the fleece bedding won’t get as clean. When washing big liners, you want to evenly distribute the weight so your washer doesn’t get knocked off balance.
Wash your fleece in hot water on a regular or heavy-duty cycle. Cold water is not going to get your fleece as clean. I use a normal laundry load amount of free and clear laundry unscented detergent most of the time, adding a little extra if my fleece is dirtier than usual. You don’t need to use extras like fabric softener when washing fleece as these can cause them to not wick properly.
Once the fleece has gone through the wash cycle, either hang it up to dry or you can run it through a tumble dryer on a low heat setting – without using dryer sheets.
You might have to test this out because some dryers will remove the wicking properties of fleece. Putting liners in the dryer is also more likely to shrink them so keep this in mind as well!
If you are worried about washing your own clothes in the washing machine after washing your guinea pig’s fleece, you may find it a good idea to run an extra rinse cycle in your washing machine to get any residual hair or hay cleaned out.
How to Wick Guinea Pig Fleece
When you first buy fleece from the fabric store it is not ready to immediately go into the cage. There is a coating on the fabric that needs to be removed for it to pull liquid through – this process is called “wicking” because it enables the fleece to wick the liquid through to the absorbent layer underneath.
When you buy new liners or cozies from shops, make sure to check with the owner on whether they wick their fleece items or if you need to do it before using the items. A lot of shops send a card with washing instructions!
There are a few different methods you can try to get your fleece to wick. Here are the two fastest.
Vinegar and Dish Soap Method
This is usually the quickest and easiest way to wick your fleece, and it only requires washing your fleece once or twice.
Put the fleece you are wicking into your washing machine. Add laundry detergent, half a cup of white vinegar, and just a tiny bit of dawn dish soap. Don’t go overboard with the dish soap or your washer will overflow with bubbles!
Wash your fleece on hot water and a regular or heavy-duty cycle. Once the fleece is done washing, take it out and test whether it is wicking properly. I do this by pouring a little bit of water on the fleece. The water should soak in immediately!
If your fleece is good to go, just hang it up to dry. Once it dries it will be ready to go in the cage!
If it’s not ready, do the exact same process and run it through the wash again. Follow the same steps to test your fleece when it’s done. Usually, this method doesn’t take more than two washes to get the job done.
Repeat Washing Method
You can still get your fleece ready to go even if you don’t have white vinegar or dawn dish soap on hand. I used this method before I knew about any others so I know it does work!
For this method, you are just going to repeatedly wash your fleece in hot water with regular free and clear detergent until it wicks properly. The hot water from each wash will take a little bit more of the coating off the fleece each time.
I will wash my fleece two or three times before I start testing it. Use the same method for testing – pour a little water on the fleece to see how quickly it soaks into the fabric. It should be immediate!
Sometimes this method does take five or six wash cycles before the fleece is fully wicked and ready to go, which can be a bit tedious and use a lot of water and detergent. Once the fleece is good to go, hang it to dry and it will be ready to go in your cage!
Whichever method you try to get your fleece ready to go in your cages, making sure your fleece is wicking properly is an important step.
Tips for Washing Fleece Bedding for Guinea Pigs
I’ve had guinea pigs for eight years now and have been using fleece that entire time. Some of the liners I currently use are around seven years old! I’ve learned a few things over the years that have helped keep my liners in good condition.
- 1. White vinegar can help remove any smell from your fleece. Add a cup of vinegar with your laundry detergent when you are washing your fleece to have it come out extra fresh!
- 2. Use a plastic litter scoop and dustpan to clean your fleece instead of a brush. I’ve found that using the edge of a plastic scoop does a much better job at getting hay and hair off fleece than a brush does unless you have a very stiff brush.
- 3. You can gently stretch liners back out that have shrunk in the wash. Don’t pull hard or you’ll pull the stitching out! I grab either side of the liner and just gently stretch it until it lays flat again. The absorbent layer inside is usually what shrinks in warm water so that’s what you’re stretching.
- 4. Higher-quality fleece is easier to keep clean. I’ve found that high-quality blizzard fleece stays nicer for the longest. Hair doesn’t stick to it as much and it’s much easier to brush hay off. I’ve also found it stands up to constant washing well. It’s a bit more expensive but is worth it for its durability.
- 5. Avoid white or very light-patterned fleece for cage liners and pee pads. Guinea pigs can be very messy animals, so lighter-colored liners will become stained over time. Darker colors or more colorful patterns will stay looking nice longer.
Final Thoughts on Washing Guinea Pig Fleece
Fleece is a fantastic bedding option for Guinea pigs when used properly. Once you get it wicked in the beginning the upkeep is as easy as quick daily spot cleaning and throwing in the washing machine!
Use the tips in this guide to wash your fleece the right way to keep it looking and smell great for years. Your piggies will love it!
Learn More About Guinea Pigs:
- How to Set Up a Guinea Pig Cage With Fleece
- Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Poop?
- FREE Healthy Veggie Guide for Guinea Pigs