Fleece liners have become the latest craze when it comes to guinea pig bedding but do they deserve the hype? And how to use them? With this ultimate guide to using fleece liners for guinea pig cages, we hope to answer all the questions you may have before making the switch!
What are fleece liners for guinea pigs?
Cage fleece liners are a type of bedding for guinea pigs. In contrast to other kinds of litter, they are reusable and washable, which makes them an eco-friendly solution. They are made of several layers of fabric. Typically the top layer is fleece combined to an absorbent layer. Because fleece does not hold moisture, any pee will soak straight through and be 'trapped' in the absorbent layer underneath.
What are the different types of fleece liners?
There are many types of fleece liners, and some of them are not at all made of fleece! Typically, we find two main types of cage liners:
1. Padded liners
Those liners combine several materials to create a comfortable experience for your piggies. The top and bottom of the liner are made of soft fleece while the middle part consists of absorbing material. Pee is directly captured by the padding and stored in the central part of the liner. The top always stays dry. Since the bottom layer is also made of fleece, these liners can be used on both sides.
Guinea pigs appreciate these liners very much as they resemble mini-mattresses! Note that those liners are not waterproof so small leaks of urine may reach the bottom of the cage, but this would be minor leaks.
2. Waterproof liners
Waterproof liners tend to be thinner than padded liners. They are made of fleece on top, lined with a waterproof material underneath. While they are efficient at keeping the cage bottom dry, they are harder to wash efficiently in the long run, and users reported that they tend to smell more quickly. Also, they can not be used on both sides, as padded liners can.
What makes a good fleece liner for guinea pigs?
A good fleece liner should first and foremost absorb the urine quickly to remain dry on its surface. This is critical to keep your guinea pigs dry. Cage liners should be able to go through several washing machine cycles without disintegrating, shrinking or clogging. The cherry on the cage is to have cage liners that are super comfortable to your guinea pigs when snuggling on them.
Why are fleece liners the best option for my guinea pigs bedding?
There are many reasons fleece liners became so popular among guinea pig owners. Fleece liners are economical: they can help you save hundreds of pounds over the years. They are much easier to clean and create no mess in the house (in contrast to wood shavings). They are also comfortable for your guinea pigs as they adore fleece! Cage liners are also eco-friendly since there are reusable. Fleece liners are fun and colourful. Finally, they are dust-free - which is better for your pigs breathing. They also prevent knots in your guinea pigs' long hair (in contrast to wood shavings).
Getting fleece liners for your guinea pigs
Buying cage liners
You can buy fleece cage liners from various manufacturers. If you own or plan to buy a C&C cage, Kavee sells C and C cages and matching fleece liners on their online stores.
Making fleece liners yourself
You can absolutely create your own fleece liners if you have a sewing machine.
There are different materials you can use to create the absorbent layer: U-haul blankets, mattress protectors, old bath/beach towels, or disposable options such as puppy pads/incontinence pads or newspapers.
If you sandwich it between 2 layers of fleece, you can use different patterns or colours on the top and bottom, and have two different cage liners in one!
How to use fleece liners for guinea pigs?
Before first use, you need to wash your fleece liners. This removes any coatings or water-repellent treatment on the fabric and improves its wicking properties. Wicking is the process of transporting liquid through a layer.
How to wash fleece liners?
Here are our general cleaning guidelines for fleece liners:
- Get rid of as much hay and poop as possible before putting the fleeces in your washing machine.
- Choose a cleaning powder made for sensitive skin and odourless as the pigs don't like chemical smells. Remember you usually require less than indicated! When washing fleece, less detergent is much better.
- Unless you have a dedicated washing machine for your pets, put your fleece into a bag before cleaning to keep your device clean and avoid obstructions. Options are: horse wear wash bags, duvet cover with a zip, or nylon bed sheets closed with a broad elastic band.
- You may use a small amount of white vinegar or fabric disinfectant to act as a softener and deodoriser. This can also help reduce odours. Do not use bleach as this may discolour your liner.
- Wash your fleece liners at 30 degrees. That is sufficient to clean it thoroughly, without damaging or shrinking it.
- Take care not to overload your machine as this can make it challenging to rinse appropriately, leaving you with a bloated mass of fleece!
- After wash, do not tumble dry the liners and do not iron. Line-drying is best.
- If you use the same machine for your liners and your clothes, run a short rinsing cycle on an empty machine after you have washed the liners. It will help to get rid of any remaining hair.
How often do you need to change your fleece liners?
It depends on the number of guinea pigs, their habits and even their diet (since some veg will make them urinate more). As a rule of thumb, we observe that liners need to be changed every 2 to 4 days. You can further increase this number by removing every day the poop and hay waste with a broom and dustpan and by leaving your liners to dry a few hours a day, preferably outdoors, while your guinea pigs are stretching their legs in a play area.
Another idea is to use extra pee pad in high traffic or messy areas of the cage (next to hay feeder, underneath water bottles, where piggies sleep) and change them regularly.
Long-term tips to keep your fleece liners in top condition
Avoiding detergent built-up in your fleece liners will keep them clean and fresh. To do so, here are a few tips:
Keep your machine clean
Once in a while, run a rinse cycle on your machine to avoid detergent built-up.
Over time detergent can build up on your fleece and leave it smelly, even after washing.
Air dry your fleece liners as often as you can
Take the opportunity to air dry your liners as often as you can, for example, when your guinea pigs are having some out of cage time, in a playpen or in the garden, even for a few hours. This will allow the liners to dry and will reduce the frequency you need to change them.
Do not change the liners too frequently
Your guinea pigs should always be kept in a clean cage. Minor cage clean like removing poop and airing the liners should be done everyday at best. However, changing the liners too frequently may trigger some guinea pigs to scent mark the entire cage as quickly as possible. This is particularly true if you use scented detergent to clean the cage or the liners.
One trick to avoid that is to not to change all of the bedding in the cage at the same time. When you remove the liner, keep some of the older pee pads in certain areas to try and make sure the pen still smells familiar to your guinea pigs.
FAQ about guinea pig fleece liners
Do you need to put something below the fleece liner? Will there be leaks of urine on my guinea pig cage bottom?
This is not necessary since most liners are absorbent enough. Make sure to choose liners that are very thick to prevent urine leaks. However, if you really want to protect your cage base from leaks, it would not hurt to place a towel, or even a few sheets of newspapers under the liners. Leaks can happen if your liners stay in place for quite some time or if your pigs urinate at the same place over and over. They are never massive, however. If this happens, your cage base can simply be cleaned with a detergent of your choice and dried before placing new liners.
How long do fleece liners last?
Fleece liners of good quality are sturdy and will last for a couple of years at least under normal usage conditions.
How many liners do I need?
Plan for at least three sets of liners. This way, you have enough spare when some are being washed.
How often do you need to replace fleece liners?
On average every 3-4 days but this number is influenced by many factors, such as the numbers of pigs etc.. If you can air dry your liners a few hours a day while your guinea pigs are out of the cage, this can significantly increase the numbers of day you can keep them. Plan for a big cage clean once a week at least.
How much money will I save using fleece liners?
It has been calculated that fleece liners can make you save up to £400 every year in bedding cost.
At which temperature do I need to wash my liners?
30 degrees is best, as this will clean the liners without damaging them.
Can I tumble dry fleece liners?
No, this is not recommended.
Can I wash my liners with the same machine than my clothes?
Yes but with a few precautions:
- Remove as much hair, hay and poop as possible from the liners before washing.
- Put your liners in a washing bag or a pillowcase
- Use fabric disinfectant together with odourless washing powder
- After washing the liners, run a rinsing cycle on your empty machine to remove any hair left.
Do you need to wash your cage liners before first use?
Yes, most fabric needs one first wash to 'break' them and increase their absorbing properties.
I have just bought fleece liners and do not seem to absorb urine very well.
See the previous question here above. Your cage liners need to be washed before first use. Repeat washing or rinsing until liquids are adequately absorbed by the top layer.
My guinea pig is wet, is that an issue?
A wet guinea pig is a lazy guinea pig, often staying at the same spot, which becomes wet over time. If this happens, no panic. Give a gentle bath to your guinea pig or wipe him dry. Increase the frequency of change of the liners or change the liners set-up so that his favourite spot remains dry. Another option is to use pee pads where he sleeps and change them frequently.
Are fleece liners too hot in summer?
This depends on the type of fabric your liner is made of. Brands like Kavee offer different types of fleece liners, some fluffy and comfortable, some lighter.
Can I use fleece liners for outdoor guinea pig hutches?
This is not recommended as it can become damp and cold.
Do guinea pigs like fleece liners?
They love it! You will often see guinea pigs snuggling on their liners, even making use of humps as pillows. Adorable!
How do I remove hair and hay on my liners before washing?
Use a vacuum or shake your liners vigorously outside. Dog or horse brushes can also help.
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