Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fleece's Dirty Little Secret

"What on earth am I doing wrong with my fleece?"

I've recently read several posts from guinea pig owners who are confused and dismayed with their fleece bedding.  They've seen the photos online of pristine cages decked out in this wonderful stuff.  They're beautiful!  Who wouldn't want to have a cage like that?

Willow says:  Mess?  What Mess?
Alas, their guinea pigs' cage didn't look at all like the photographs online.  Their cage was a mess.  Poo all over the place.  They find themselves cleaning constantly, much more than a cage with shavings or Carefresh.  How embarrassing to fail so dismally in keeping a cage cleaned properly.  Why didn't their cage look like everyone's photos?

Well, let me tell you, unless you and your pigs are compulsive cleaners, your cage is probably pretty normal.  All of those wonderful, clean fleeced-lined cages you see online?  There is a dirty little secret:  photos are usually taken of a freshly cleaned cage, minutes after the pigs were plopped back in.  If the owner is good with a camera or computer-savvy, any offending mess is magically cropped or photoshopped out of the shot.  I admit to electronically removing a stray poo or two.  Who wouldn't?

So let me put your mind at ease with a few typical halfway-between-cleaning photos from my girls' cages.  Be horrified.  Be disgusted.  My sows could really care less about some poo in the corner and hay or shavings spread across the floor.  As long as the fleece is dry, doesn't smell and I can see at least a little spot of clutter-free fleece, we're good to go.

Newbie's poo and hay
The top photo is of Willow's cage and is a prime example of a half-fleece half-shaving setup.  I have a low threshold between the two sections, so the bedding gets tracked all over the fleece if she's been particularly active.  Willow is not usually this sloppy, but it's a great photo to illustrate my point.

The bottom photo of the Newbie's upper deck is relatively clean.  It is fleece only - no wood shavings to complicate matters.  The hay tube is somewhat contained.  However, I swear that Pinni spreads the hay out on purpose, just to make me clean it up.

Even the fleece that is far away from hay or shavings can get pretty messy:  the second level gets poo and whatever hay Pinni has tracked through.  The first level, which is a combination of fleece and shavings, makes Willow's cage look immaculate.  Bertie loves doing donuts around the cage, so there's no chance the shavings will remain on that side of the cage.

My cages would probably be cleaner if I did a full swap to fleece bedding.  But no one seems to be too upset by the clutter.  I don't have quite the amount of laundry to do as I would with a full-fleece setup and I'm going through half the amount of shavings than I used to.   The girls like both types of bedding, so the current setup works for all of us.

And that's the dirt on clean fleece.


  1. I admit to having taken a photo immediately after a fresh cage. I'm wondering if anyone has tips on how to get/keep your washing machine clean when it's being used to wash fleece that has hay and bedding on it. (??)

    1. I have a full bedspread for my girls' cage. I remove the bedspread by folding it into itself to keep everything contained. I then take it outside to the trash where I shake everything into the can. All hay is usually shaken off with a couple good shakes. If there is any hay left, it is easyly brushed off. Then the bedspread goes into the wash on hot. Good luck.

    2. I dump the bedding outside and use a brick to brush off the hay bits that stick. I wash a load of piggy towels after the fleece blankets/cozies to help clean out the washer. We have to wash our floor every time right after washing because tiny bits of hay find their way onto the floor out of the dryer.

    3. Oh yeah and we rinse the bedding in the washer twice. :-)

    4. I have two brushes that I use on the fleece - one is short stiff brush, like a fingernail brush. It gets off most of the hay and hair. I also have a rubber brush, like one you can get for grooming dogs and cats to remove excess hair. That one works great for getting most everything off the fleece. It needs a lot of elbow grease, but it leaves my washing machine nearly spotless. Just some hair, which is easy to mop up with a paper towel or rag.

      I normally air dry the fleece, although running it through the drier gets the rest of the hair out!

  2. I use the piggybedspread system with a 9x9 superpet litterbox filled with paper pulp (carefresh etc). The hay (mostly) stays in the litterbox, along with pretty much all pees and most poos. Only minor tidying is required on most days. Swap out bedspeads weekly / as needed.

  3. I have a pretty clean cage also I have a plastic box placed under the hay holder with care fresh in it with a newspaper on the very bottom. They do almost all there buisness in the plastic box so I only pick up a few poos here and there every evening. When my girls was very young I used the box as a little box and they use it pretty often.


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