I owned guinea pigs as a child, and things have changed quite a bit over the years when it comes to pet ownership. My kids now have their own guinea pigs (six total!), so we have learned a lot about taking care of guinea pigs, especially when you have so many.
I definitely have a love-hate relationship with the cage liners. It was a good investment and saves me on the cost of guinea pig bedding or running to the store, but at the same time, sometimes I just really hate washing the liners.
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As far as the type of guinea pig cages we have, we use Midwest Cages with cage liners.
There are lots of pros and cons to liners versus bedding, and my kids actually have one of each (one cage with liners, one with bedding).
I was hesitant to buy liners, but we were also hoping for a good return on the investment and to be more eco-friendly.
We purchased Guinea Dad cage liners to fit our Midwest cages. These come in a variety of sizes and colors, and have a pocket for burrowing.
We also have non-fleece liners – LuftPets Guinea Pig Cage Liners.
Our piggies really seem to enjoy the liners, and they look comfy using them. While I do have some frustrations when it comes to using liners, usually because of having to wash them, it has gotten easier. Here are some tips.
~ Purchase several liners, of good quality ~
The cage liners get dirty quickly, and when we first started with liners, I drove myself crazy trying to get them washed frequently. I would start with at least 4 to get you through the week. We have a couple guinea pigs in one cage, and we swap out the liner every day or two.
I did also purchase a cheaper brand liner at one point, but the quality is far inferior. The bottom of the liner is rubbery, making it tough to put in the washer (as it kind of sticks to the drum), and things like hay seem to cling quite well to the fleece, making it more difficult to wash.
~ Shake out the liners thoroughly ~
When you are ready to clean the liner, start by shaking it out thoroughly. I shake it gently over our trash bin, and then go outside and shake the liner quite vigorously. You want to make sure there is no poop stuck to it, as well as hay or other debris. I also try to get as much guinea pig hair off as possible.
Debris sticks to fleece quite a bit, making it harder to remove the fur and hay. There are some non-fleece options, such as LuftPets Guinea Pig Cage Liners.
~ Pre-soak the liners ~
I have a utility sink in my garage, and I pre-soak the liners. I fill a bucket with warm water and squeeze the liner, and then rinse the liner several times. There are also spots that I scrub with a scrub brush, like spots that veggies left a stain or there is a calcium spot from guinea pig urine. *Note – if you leave a liner to soak in a bucket for more than a couple hours, it will smell really badly!
We have also sprayed down liners with a hose outside, kind of like power washing it, but wet liners are really tough to maneuver and to wring out. Even in hot summer sun, soggy liners take a long time to dry out, compared to liners that were spun dry in the washer.
~ Use soap carefully ~
Soap can actually build up on fabrics, so go light on the soap. Use unscented detergent only, as piggies have sensitive noses and respiratory systems. You can also use distilled white vinegar as a fabric softener. We choose a natural unscented laundry detergent like Rockin Green, but there are plenty of great options out there.
~ Wash liners together, not with other things ~
I try to wash liners only with other liners. If you wash liners with clothing, it will inevitably leave hair and other debris on your other laundry (like little bits of hay that get embedded in the fabric). I have tried to run things through the dryer to loosen the guinea pig hair, but it really just ends up embedded in the fabric. So unless you want to end up having to use a strong lint roller, I would not mix clothes laundry and liners.
~ Dry carefully ~
Do not use dryer sheets, as they interfere with the absorbent qualities of the liner, plus they usually have scents and chemicals in them.
Liners are not supposed to be dried using heat, but I have left them in the sun to dry and also used heat in my dryer (which is was you are NOT supposed to do!). The liners do shrink a little, but that has never been a problem that they are slightly smaller. They still fit our cage, and even have enough length to go up the side a little. Ideally, if you want to get the most life out of the liners, follow the recommended instructions. I like getting the liners sun dried at least every so often to take advantage of the benefits of the sun (helping to reduce stains and odors, improve freshness). I use a clothes drying rack to let the liners air dry.
The concept of the guinea pig liners is great, but it also takes a little patience. After using liners for a while, I feel like we have settled into a routine that has gotten easier.
Check out our other guinea pig blog posts:
Gift Ideas for Your Guinea Pig
Fun Guinea Pig Toys for All Ages
Tips for Using Cage Liners for Guinea Pigs
Pros and Cons of Guinea Pig Fleece Cage Liners
Guinea Pig Food: What We Feed Our Piggies
Basic Supplies for Guinea Pigs
How to Grow Grass for Guinea Pigs Using Seed Sprouting Trays
Why Guinea Pigs Make Great Pets for Kids