It is of the highest importance to maintain a clean environment for your guinea pig to live in, as this will impact greatly on their overall health. Frequent and thorough cage cleans will prevent bacteria growth, ammonia build up, and is also key to preventing your guinea pig from developing illness.
Your nose is a good indicator as to when your guinea pig's cage needs cleaning. Their cage should never "smell". Leaving your guinea pig's cage a week without cleaning it is the maximum. It is advised that you complete spot checks of their cage daily. This involves removing soiled patches of bedding, and replacing it with fresh, dry bedding. Ideally, you should be completely cleaning out your guinea pig's cage every 3 days or so. It depends on a number of factors including;
- How big their cage is (bigger is better)
- How many guinea pigs you have
- How old your guinea pigs are (older guinea pigs produce more waste)
- What bedding your using
Step-By-Step Cage Cleaning
Either purchase a hutch cleaner from your local pet store or fill a spray bottle with half white vinigar, and half water. This vinigar spray in not toxic to guinea pigs, and cleans their cage well.
Remove all of your guinea pig's items from their cage. This is a great time to put your guinea pigs in a safe and secure run on the grass, to soak up the sunshine. If you can't do this, put your guinea pig somewhere safe like in a washing basket or cardboard box, and leave them some fresh veggies to snack on while they wait.
Remove all of their bedding and throw it into a rubbish bag. Use a dust pan and brush to sweep up the remaining pieces of bedding, and make sure you get all of it off of the bottom of their cage.
Spray the bottom of their cage with the spray of your choice, and use a clean, damp rag or sponge to wipe the bottom of their cage until it's clean.
Dry the bottom of their cage with an old dry rag.
Lay down a layer of newspaper underneath their bedding (unless your using fleece). This will make it easier to clean next time, because all you will need to do is roll up the newspaper, and throw it in the rubbish. Newspaper used to be made with toxic inks in the past, but is now made with safe soy-based inks. It is absolutely harmless if they eat it. They may go through an initial phase of eating a lot of it, but they'll soon get bored of it and realise it's not proper food.
At this stage it is a good idea to wash all their items thoroughly in warm soapy water (especially their water bottle). Get a q-tip (cotton tip) and poke it up the metal spout of the water bottle. If a green algae-like substance comes out, then you need to give the spout a thorough clean. Use a few wet q-tips and rub all around the inside of the spout, then rinse with some water. The bottle itself also builds up with this green algae-like substance, so a bottle brush is needed to properly clean all the hard to reach places inside the bottle. All of your guinea pig's items should be cleaned weekly.
Place all of their items back in their cage and return your piggy to its newly cleaned cage.