Cleaning Your Guinea Pig’s Fleece Bedding
In practice, you’ll discover that using fleece is not quite as simplistic as it sounds.
Everyone uses and works with fleece a little differently. Most of my fleece is in upper levels of my cage, so it stays relatively clean. The bottom level fleece is normally covered in wood chips, hay, poo and hair. So even in a single cage, I am faced with different cleaning requirements.
The Fleece Project recommends a Vacuum-Shake-Brush-Beat routine. I prefer a Brush-Brush-Dustbust-Shake routine for cleaning fleece. You probably have (or will have) your own favored routine.
As I pull the fleece out of the cage, I sweep much of the debris into the cage with the whisk brush. Then I lay out the fleece and brush it with the fingernail brush, followed by the rubber brush/mitt. I have found that the fingernail brush is great for getting out surface hair. It works pretty well on the wood chips, too. The rubber curry brush is good for hay and embedded hair. If the weather is good, I do this outdoors, because the hair will just blow away. Plus, I don’t have to sweep up the floor when I’m done. Less dust in the house, too.
All of this brushing often crushes some of the hay, so I find running the dust buster over it briefly can pull off the crumbs and any of the loosened hair. Lastly, I give it a gentle shake, just to get out any of the last bits of hair and dust that has been loosened up (sometimes I wait until the fleece is totally dry for this step).It takes some time and effort, but the results are impressive. You can see the difference with Willow’s fleece.
The prep-work makes my washing machine (and me) a whole lot happier. It doesn’t need to be wiped down after a load of pig bedding. As an added bonus, if I dry the fleece in the dryer, the lint trap doesn’t look I shaved half a guinea pig into it.
Pretty much everyone agrees that vinegar is great for removing urine and odor from fleece. Beyond that, laundering techniques can vary as much as the prep-work. I pour in about 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar, a scoop of OxiClean and maybe a drop of detergent with a large load of pig bedding. Our new washer has an extra rinse options, so I use that and run with warm/cold water (instead of hot). Fleece doesn’t hold onto the water, so I usually hang the fleece up to dry.
That’s my basic cleaning routine. Nothing complicated. I sweep daily with a whisk brush or the lightly with the rubber mitt. I do the Brush-Brush-Dustbust-Shake thing every week. Fleece that is dry, clean and doesn’t smell may go back in the cage; stuff that needs washing goes in the pig hamper. I run a load whenever the hamper is full or when I’m on my last set of clean fleece for the cage. Your mileage will vary, based on number of pigs, their habits, humidity, cage setup (including what you use under the fleece) and your personal sense of what’s clean or not.
Clean fleece is a wonderful thing! My girls all have the clean cage happy-dances to prove it.
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