Author Topic: Cleaning the cage  (Read 722 times)

Offline Bathos

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Cleaning the cage
« on: July 01, 2016, 08:15:35 AM »
I currently have a Super Pet cage and one of my little girls just isn't going to get big enough to use it.  (We found her on the floor after vacation, so even putting the cage on a table is not enough to keep her safely off the floor). I plan to buy a new cage soon, but I have some cleaning questions to consider.

I have a very busy life with 2 kids (one with lots of medical problems) and a part time job plus volunteer work.  I currently clean the cage weekly and use carefresh at the bottom.  How do you folks with the critter nation cages or similar non-dish-bottomed cages keep up with the cleaning?  What do you clean and how and how often?  What's the best lazy person's way to keep up with the cleaning?

Offline Vonda Z

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Re: Cleaning the cage
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2016, 08:41:43 AM »
Well, the larger the cage, the longer you can go between cage cleanings. So if your cage is full to capacity according to the cage size calculator, you will likely have to clean the cage multiple times per week. If you can use a cage twice as large as you need (full to half capacity), you may be able to go a full week between cage cleanings. Having an air purifier with a HEPA filter may help control odors between cage cleanings and keep the air clean and free of ammonia and dust. The downside to having a larger cage than you need is that you need to clean a larger cage. You will also fill it with more things that need to be cleaned. So while you may be able to go longer between cage cleanings, those cleanings may take longer.

Really, everything has to be cleaned. All hammocks and liners must be replaced and washed. The accessories wiped down or soaked and scrubbed. Trays scrubbed clean. Bars wiped clean. Every now and then I do a more thorough clean that involves more soaking - washing of the bars with Dawn first, then doing my normal vinegar wipedown, taking all trays and toys to a utility tub for a really good soak or washing in a dishwasher if dishwasher safe.

I don't think there is any shortcut you can take to good cage cleaning - but the more you do it, the more you will get a system down and the less time it will take. I have found that having everything I need ready to go in convenient reach before starting will help make sure I get things done more quickly. If I constantly have to come and go to get this or that, then it takes twice as long.

Offline Bathos

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Re: Cleaning the cage
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2016, 09:12:20 AM »
I'm thinking 3 girls in a double critter nation.  I was even thinking about buying cheap dollar store fleeces to use as bedding.  It might even be cheaper than the carefresh.  If I could spend $8 on their fleeces (2 $1 fleeces per week) rather than $20 on carefresh each month I could even just toss the fleeces after one use.  I've never done the fleece bedding thing before.  I have had hammocks and hanging tubes and I remember them getting pretty gnarly even with weekly washing.

Offline Serendipity Rats

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Re: Cleaning the cage
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2016, 11:01:04 AM »
With just 3 girls in a DCN, you might be able to get away with a once-a-week cleaning. It will really depend on the girls, their level of destruction and their level of litter training.

I currently have 5 girls in a DCN, and I need to do two cleanings a week. I have two larger litter boxes (one upstairs, one down) and I'm using fleece to cover the levels and shelves. The fleece never stays where I put it, even clipped, as they will pull it up or chew holes to get under it, or bunch it all up under a house or something. One of my girls loves to pretend she is a burrito.  ::)

While I've tried and tried with these girls, they are only about 70% litter box trained. They will mostly go in the boxes, but sometimes they'll just go wherever they happen to be. So, when I do cleanings, I end up doing a partial cleaning mid-week and a full cleaning at the end (or beginning) of each week.

The full cleaning is just that - I take everything out, even the levels and shelves. I take the cage levels and shelves outside and spray them down with a vinegar/dish soap/water solution, let them sit, rinse, then spray them with a store-bought cage cleaner (Kaytee Clean Cage) and scrub with a sponge. I mainly use the Kaytee stuff because I like the way it smells. All of the cage accessories are removed and washed - level/shelf covers & hammocks (and any towels I use) go into the wash, then the houses, hides, wheels, food bowls, etc go into the tub and I follow the same steps outlined above for cleaning them. Then I use a cloth with the Clean Cage stuff sprayed on it to go over the bars of the cage. After all is dried, it all goes back in with a fresh set of liners and new bedding in the litter boxes. Then return the girls to their fresh cage. This can take 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how quickly I feel like moving, lol.

The partial cleaning involves removing all of the shelf and level covers, vacuuming the loose bedding/etc out, wiping down the levels and shelves, then wiping down any accessory that needs a quick once-over. Then I just put in a clean set of liners and let the girls loose. It only takes about 20 minutes to do the partial cleaning, and it definitely makes a difference.

As Vonda said, once you choose a routine and do it a few times, things will flow better and you can get the cleaning(s) done quicker. You can always cut down on needing to do full cleanings by doing little spot cleanings here and there. It all depends on what works best for you. I hope this helps. :)

Offline Vonda Z

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Re: Cleaning the cage
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2016, 12:50:02 PM »
I was even thinking about buying cheap dollar store fleeces to use as bedding.  It might even be cheaper than the carefresh.  If I could spend $8 on their fleeces (2 $1 fleeces per week) rather than $20 on carefresh each month I could even just toss the fleeces after one use.

Be aware that fleece is not absorbent. You really need something absorbent under the fleece or it starts to smell almost immediately - the pee wicks through the fleece to the trays and dries there in a sticky stinky puddle. You would likely be changing the fleece daily and washing the trays daily if you did that. Most of us who use fleece put either bath towels or U-Haul furniture pads under the fleece - or we make liners with a layer of fleece and a layer of furniture pad. This is too expensive to simply use and toss - but at the same time, if you have chewers, you will be replacing the liners often anyway. If you don't have chewers, you will save money over litter (as long as you wash the liners and don't toss), but if you have chewers, it can definitely cost more - depending on how long your liners last.

Offline Bathos

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Re: Cleaning the cage
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2016, 01:29:46 PM »
My current routine is to do a quick wipe-down of shelves mid-week and change the bedding in the cage weekly, plus clean the pan at the bottom and all the shelves and ramps weekly.  I also ran a load of rat laundry weekly for tubes and cubbies and such when we were using them.  I use cardboard boxes for hiding places and I toss them weekly.  My every-6-month deep clean of the cage is similar to Serendipity's weekly cleaning.  I currently use the carefresh in the bottom.

What's the best/easiest way to keep those bedding free cages clean?  Is this awesome-looking cage maybe not for me?  I see all these great pictures, but I'm concerned that my quick weekly cleanings won't be enough to keep the odor down.  I could see myself giving the bars a quick wipe in addition to wiping down the trays and ledges, but nothing like Vonda and Serendipity's weekly detailed cleaning.

Offline ILoveMyRatties

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Re: Cleaning the cage
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2016, 05:25:41 PM »
I use diluted chlorhexidine 2% to clean my critter nation cages. I dilute it in a bucket and use two cotton washing clothes to clean it from the inside and outside at the same time. It is quick and you don't have to rinse it out. I put my rats in another cage while doing it. Also it doesn't rust the cage like vinegar would. I was a little skeptic at first as it has some scent, but I never got any sneezing or porphyrin so I love it. I put some of it in my scent free dish soap I use to clean their stuff too, so I can clean and disinfect at the same time.