Monday, July 14, 2014

How to Clean a Midwest Guinea Pig Cage with Fleece Bedding

Midwest Guinea pig Habitat cleaning guide for fleece bedding
The guinea pig area
 I've been asked how I clean my guinea pigs' Midwest Cage so I thought I'd post a photo tutorial on my process in case anyone wanted some tips. 
I adopted these three girls, who I lovingly call The Piggals, a short time ago and my husband and I are building them a big habitat, but in the meantime they are living in the 8 sq ft. cage that they came home in.  It's on the small size for three of them but would be well suited for two if given adequate daily playtime outside of the pen.

The Midwest Guinea Habitat cage consists of the waterproof PVS/ canvas base, interlocking wire sides, and a wire top. 
We do not use the top normally, but we keep it on hand to help section off areas for the pigs to play in on the floor.
I set up the cage so that the wire side that is easiest to unhook is on the front (one side just has pins that hold the corner together) since I take the front off every day for cleaning.

I clean the guinea pig cage every morning and today is no exception; this is one day's mess.

Guinea Pig Fancy says, "Hey girls! I think I smell Mama...and breakfast!"
Guinea Pig Fancy says,
"Hey girls! I think I smell Mama...and breakfast!"
"Hey Buttercup, do you see Mama yet?"
"Hey Buttercup, do you see Mama yet?"
"There she is!"
"There she is!"
One day of mess for three guinea pigs.
One day of mess for three guinea pigs.

Guinea Pig breakfast: romaine lettuce, blueberries, carrots, cucumber.
Guinea Pig breakfast:
romaine lettuce, blueberries, carrots, cucumber.

I have their Breakfast ready before I go to their cage.  When I turn on my classical music and make kissy-noises at them, they know it's time for breakfast (and time for their house to get cleaned!).


I section off an area for them to play in using the front and top of their cage.  I pull out the desk their cage sits on so they can play under it.
I section off an area for them to play in using the front and top of their cage.
  I pull out the desk their cage sits on so they can play under it.

Guinea Pigs eating breakfast
Guinea Pigs eating breakfast

The Piggals go camping! Mike got a display tent from a sporting goods store and attached it to a cardboard box. Our pets love playing in it.
The Piggals go camping!
Mike got a display tent from a sporting goods store and attached it to a cardboard box.
Our pets love playing in it.
Sweep it all to the front and center.
Sweep it all to the front and center.
Use a dust pan to hold the fleece taut while sweeping.
Use a dust pan to hold the fleece taut while sweeping.
Clean the food dishes.  Rinse and let dry.
Clean the food dishes.  Rinse and let dry.
Washing the water bottle with homemade castille soap and a bottle brush. Nail polish is Orly in Berry Blast.
Washing the water bottle with homemade castille soap and a bottle brush.
Nail polish is Orly in Berry Blast.
I know there's polish-a-holics out there in piggie-land ;)
Washing the water bottle spout and gasket with a cotton swab and castille soap.  Nail Polish is Orly in Berry Blast.
Washing the water bottle spout and gasket with a cotton swab and castille soap.
Nail Polish is Orly in Berry Blast.
Wipe the pans with a disinfectant solution of vinegar and water.  
U-Haul cotton blanket padding.  Clean & dry.  Washed weekly.
U-Haul cotton blanket padding. 
Clean & dry.  Washed weekly.
Clean fleece blanket tucked around cotton pad. Washed every other day.
Clean fleece blanket tucked around cotton pad.
Washed every other day.
Tuck the excess material around the blanket and keep the fleece taut for easier spot-cleaning and sweeping.
Tuck the excess material around the blanket and
keep the fleece taut for easier spot-cleaning and sweeping.
Line the litter pans with puppy wee pads.
Line the litter pans with puppy wee pads.
 The beige pan is actually the base of the cage that our rabbit, Duchess, was housed in for 3 years by the family we rescued her from.  It is way too small for a guinea pig...let alone a rabbit!! We used this base from that cage as her litter pan.  It works well in this set-up for the time being, too, because it keeps all the messy hay and litter contained so the fleece stays clean.  The purple pan is a corner littler tray sold for rabbits.  I cut one wee pad in half diagonally to fit the corner pan.  These pigs don't nibble the plastic backing, but if yours do, please don't use these liners.  It could be dangerous for them to ingest it.

Fill corner potty with absorbent litter material. This is a mix of Kaytee Clean & Cozy Small Animal bedding in Lavender and Original.
Fill corner potty with absorbent litter material.
This is a mix of Kaytee Clean & Cozy Small Animal bedding in Lavender and Original.
 The Kaytee Clean & Cozy Small Animal Bedding is okay, but I think I will switch back to the Carefresh that I used to use for my rabbit when I am out of what I have.  I just don't like how small and light the pieces are because it tracks onto the fleece easily.  With this system, a little goes a long way.  I emptied 2- 1000 cu in packages into my tote and fluffed it up a bit.  I've used it a month now and there's still plenty left.  I mixed the lavender and original.  I do like the light scent but I felt it was too strong for guinea pig noses (and respiratory system), so I mix it which seems to be pretty perfect.
Fill the hay bin.  I keep part of a bale in this container under their pen for easy access.
Fill the hay bin. 
I keep part of a bale in this container under their pen for easy access.
 I buy the Oxbow hays, which are wonderful, and a whole bale of hay.  The Oxbow is given as a special treat as it's REALLY expensive ($10-ish for the larger bag), but it is wonderful quality so I don't mind the splurge now and then.  I live in hay country, the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, so lovely, fresh hay is very inexpensive ($4-ish/bale) and plentiful.  Keeping the hay dark, dry, and bug-free is essential.  If it doesn't smell good, don't feed it to your pigs ...or even keep it in the same room as them.
Oxbow Essentials Adult Guinea Pig food in a clean, dry bowl.
Oxbow Essentials Adult Guinea Pig food in a clean, dry bowl.
 I fed the rabbit variety to my Duchess and it was very good.  They didn't have this brand the last time I had guinea pigs but it's highly recommended and the only pellet we feed them.
Cute guinea pigs happily exploring their clean home.
Cute guinea pigs happily exploring their clean home.
 Everything is put back into their home (don't forget the water bottle!!)
They head right for the hay...it's their favorite!
They head right for the hay...it's their favorite!
Luna under the rain flap of her tent.
"Thanks for watching our morning routine!"
Daily routine:
  1. Breakfast & playtime on the floor (be careful there are no wires or other dangers!)
  2. Take out the dishes, toys, pigloos, etc
  3. Roll up & trash the wee pads
  4. Take out pans and wipe if necessary
  5. Sweep poos/litter/hay to the front and then into pan and discard
  6. Shake fleece blanket outside if necessary (Wash every other day)
  7. Make sure underside of U-Haul pad is clean and dry
  8. Replace the fleece blanket and straighten
  9. Replace the pans and line with wee pads (add litter to corner pan)
  10. Replace pigloos/toys, etc
  11. Rinse and refill water bottle
  12. Wipe and fill food and hay bins
  13. Piggies come back home!
This daily routine takes me about 15 minutes total.

Other Routine:
  1. Weekly- All accessories cleaned (water bottle, dishes, pans, pigloos, toys, etc.)
  2. Weekly- Cleaning supplies cleaned (sweeper and pan, outside of the totes, food scoop, etc)
  3. Weekly- U-Haul cotton blanket washed
  4. Monthly- Canvas bottom and wire cage washed


6 comments:

  1. I've been asked how I clean my guinea pigs' Midwest Cage so I thought I'd post a photo tutorial on my process in case anyone wanted some ... guineapigcagesmidwest.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. How do you clean the canvas bottom of the cage?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Gin! The canvas bottom stays pretty clean, but I still wash it once each month. After my routine waste removal, I disconnect the canvas from the wire and wash it in the washing machine. Here is a link to my post about how I wash the U-Haul pads and it's also how I wash the canvas except I use hot water for the canvas instead of cold. I hang it to dry because I feel like the dryer would wear it out. http://sarahkatehunt.blogspot.com/2014/06/fleece-bedding-for-guinea-pig-habitat.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I addressed your concern about the cage size in the first paragraph:
      "I adopted these three girls, who I lovingly call The Piggals, a short time ago and my husband and I are building them a big habitat, but in the meantime they are living in the 8 sq ft. cage that they came home in. It's on the small size for three of them but would be well suited for two if given adequate daily playtime outside of the pen."

      Delete
  5. I'm doing research before I buy a piggy, I was wondering is its better to leave the canvas flooring or cover the bottom with the fleece blankets? and about how long does it take to somewhat potty train a Guinea Pig? I dont expect them to fully use the spot i'd like but hopefully use it the majority of the time. Also 1 last question, does the fleece flooring get soaked in pee? I read something the the pee falls to the bottom where something more absorbent should be there to catch it.

    ReplyDelete

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