Fleece liners are the perfect bedding solution for guinea pigs because they provide a dust-free environment for these pets who are prone to upper respiratory infections. They are soft and comfortable (especially important for hairless piggies!) and can make your cage set up look beautiful!
As well as these benefits you also have less waste to dispose of. However, you do have the downside of having to wash the fleeces.
There are pros and cons to all bedding so don’t give up on the idea of fleece liners - read on for our tips and advice on how to keep them clean and fresh.
How to keep your fleece liners fresh for longer
Here are some tips that will help your fleece liners last longer and stay fresher between washes:
Use proper fleece liners
Don’t just use fleece but get the proper fleece liners. These specially made fleece liners come with an absorbent layer which takes the dampness away from the surface.
Use a litter tray:
Put a litter tray under your hay rack and line with some hay, kiln dried wood shavings or some paper-based bedding. I found this area got absolutely drenched extremely quickly. It was so bad I thought the water bottle was leaking, then I realised it was because they pee while eating hay!
Having a litter tray directly under the hay rack will also minimise the amount of hay that gets on to the fleece which is good because it is not always easy to remove.
Use pee pads
Guinea pigs like dark areas in which to pee and poop so put pee pads in pigloos or hidey houses. Pee pads are small and easy to wash on a regular basis. You could alternatively use small pieces of simple fleece which won’t be as absorbent but will help make the liners last that little bit longer before they need washing.
Don’t use water bowls
Use water bottles rather than bowls of water as these can be tipped or spilt and create wet patches. The water in a bowl will also tend to get contaminated so this isn’t so hygienic for your piggies.
Daily poop clean
Clean the poops at least once a day. Unlike with shavings and other types of bedding, the poops sit on the top of fleece liners so need to be removed regularly.
The best way to wash your fleece liners
It is important to wash fleece liners correctly to make sure they come out smelling fresh and also to ensure they retain their absorbency with no shrinkage.
Preparing the fleece liners for washing
You’ll need to give the fleece liners a really good shake out before putting in the washing machine. Don’t do this near their cage as the dust isn’t good for them. Ideally, take them outside to shake. Make sure you’re not wearing clothes that attract hair or dust as this is a messy job!
Alternatively, if you don’t have the option of taking them outside, you can use a dustpan and brush to get the worst off and then a handheld vacuum (have one you use especially for your piggies) to remove the more stubborn bits of hair. These can also be useful for hoovering up poops!
If you still find you have bits of hay and hair that just won't come out, try the Rubber Grooming Brush - this should get any remaining bits out.
Use a laundry bag
It’s likely you won’t have removed every single bit of hay or hair so it’s a good idea to buy an pet laundry bag in which to place your fleece before putting it in the washing machine. The fleece must have room to move around within the laundry bag or it won’t clean properly.
Using a laundry bag will help preserve the life of your washing machine and prevent blockages.
Don’t overcrowd your washing machine
Don’t overfill your washing machine. The water needs space to work its magic and to rinse properly. Always make sure there is plenty of space for your liners to tumble and move around during the washing process.
Make sure the waterproof backing of your liner is on the inside (eg fold the liner in half before it goes in) or the water won’t be able to penetrate the layers.
Washing Machine Settings and Temperature
GuineaDad advise using a cold wash to help preserve the quality of their liners. This is a good idea for all fleece liners and will add to their longevity.
An extra rinse cycle or longer washing cycle can help with removing odours as you need plenty of water to penetrate and rinse through the absorbent layers.
Which washing detergent should I use?
If using a detergent, you should ideally use one that is unscented. Non-biological detergent is preferable as it is better for sensitive skin and is especially important for hairless guinea pigs.
We don't use detergent! We like to use the EcoEgg to wash our fleece liners and also for all our washing. This is an eco friendly option which consists of a plastic egg that requires no powder or liquid (so no mess!) but natural cleaning pellets that last for loads of washes and can be bought separately when required.
Our EcoEgg goes for months without having to replace the pellets so it saves a lot of money and helps the planet too… what’s not to like? You can buy the EcoEgg here on Amazon…
Extra Tip: I usually put the washing machine on a short rinse cycle after the guinea pig fleeces have been removed. This helps remove any excess hair which may attach themselves to any clothes you may add to the following wash.
Should I use fabric softener?
No. Don’t use fabric softener as this will make your fleeces less absorbent and will encourage the urine to form droplets on the fleece surface when they pee.
Instead, put a ¼ to ½ cup of distilled white vinegar in the fabric conditioner drawer of your washing machine. This will help with the softness and will have the added benefit of helping to remove smells. The smell of the vinegar should dissipate as the liners dry, particularly if you dry them outdoors on your washing line.
How to dry fleece liners
We like to dry our fleece liners outdoors and find this adds to their fresh smell. If you don’t have this option, you could put them on a clothes airer indoors.
You can use a tumble drier but make sure you follow the following care instructions:
- Don’t add dryer sheets either as they have a similar effect to fabric conditioner, reducing the absorbency of the liners.
- Dry on a low heat and don’t overdry as this can lead to shrinkage.
- Take your fleece liner out before it is completely dry. Then hang over a clothes airer to finish off.
- GuineaDad Fleece Liners
- Pee Pads
- Handheld Vacuum
- Rubber Grooming Brush (for fleeces, not the guinea pigs!)
- Laundry Bag
- EcoEgg - (Eco friendly, no-mess and money-saving alternative to washing detergent for both your fleece liners AND daily washing)
- Distilled White Vinegar - (reduces smells and adds softness without reducing absorbency)
Does your cage still smell?
If your guinea pig cage still smells after you’ve done a full clean, it might be the guinea pigs themselves that need some freshening up. Short haired piggies don’t usually require regular baths but long-haired pets can get urine and debris in their fur and may need bathing as and when necessary. Find out how to bathe your guinea pig here...