Hamsters are perhaps the most popular animals to become our first pets. Though they’re smaller than most animals, hamsters still need lots of love to make them happy and healthy.
And, part of keeping our little fuzz balls healthy is keeping their cages clean. But how do you exactly clean a hamster cage?
If this is your first time taking care of a hamster, better stay tuned and continue reading below.
How to clean a hamster cage?
Cleaning a hamster cage isn’t as easy as it looks, especially if you’re a newbie hamster owner. You first need to gather cleaning materials before you can start. Also, don’t forget to find your pet hamster some temporary yet safe place to stay while you’re washing their area. Once everyone’s settled and comfortable, empty the hamster cage. After which, thoroughly wash everything, including the cage’s accessories. Once everything’s squeaky clean, rinse them and air them out to dry. Reassemble everything afterward and transfer the hamsters back into their home sweet home. But, never forget to dispose of soiled bedding and the gloves you wore during the cleanup.
Steps in cleaning a hamster cage
Most of us think that since hamsters are tiny, cleaning their cages isn’t as complicated as cleaning a dog’s cage.
What most first-time hamster owners don’t know is that hamster cages tend to become dirty fast.
But you don’t need to fret. If you read the information mentioned earlier, you’ll start with gathering the materials first.
Materials needed to clean a hamster cage
Though doting fur parents don’t mind getting their hands mucky, picking up on hamster dung and other yucky stuff isn’t sanitary.
Aside from that, hamsters can become carriers of transmissible viruses and bacteria. Hence, it’s always a good idea to wear working gloves during the process.
But, wearing gloves still doesn’t excuse us from thorough hand washing after.
Depending on your preference, you’ll need either of these two items (or maybe both) to clean your hamster cage.
You can even use these to wipe off any muck you see on cage accessories before a more thorough cleaning later on.
This is where you’ll dump all the soiled beddings and hamster poop, as well as the cleaning materials you’ve used (if they’re disposable).
One of the simplest cleaning solutions you can use is a mixture of soap and water. But, if you’re concerned with the harmful residue it’ll leave behind, you can opt to use more natural solutions.
For one, you can mix water with vinegar. Vinegar is an excellent natural sanitizer that not only leaves the cage clean but doesn’t leave any residue.
If you don’t want to mix this and that, then try asking your vet for recommendations.
Hamsters love to burrow – all the time! Aside from using these beddings as makeshift restrooms, these furry rodents love to store food in them as well.
Since rotten food and poop don’t mix well, bacteria can live on them. Hence, you’ll need to replace their beddings to keep everything clean constantly.
But, as hamsters are nocturnal animals, schedule the cleanup at night to avoid stressing them.
Hamster Cage Cleanup Step-by-Step Guide
Move hamsters to a safe container
How can you start cleaning a hamster cage if your rodent friends continue to litter the area right? Not only is it a bother, but it’ll also make the whole process frustrating as well.
Thus, don’t forget to bring out your rodent pal’s temporary shelter. Depending on what’s available, you can use either a pet carrier or a hamster ball.
Regardless of what item you assign as the hamster’s holding area, make sure that it’s safe. Make sure it’s free of sharp objects that can potentially injure your beloved pet.
Empty the enclosure
Once your furry pal’s comfortable in its temporary home, you can now begin emptying the hamster cage. Don’t forget, of course, to wear your cleaning gloves before starting the process.
With emptying, don’t leave anything behind. From bedding, food and water bowls, accessories, and toys, make sure not to leave any of them behind.
If possible, remove food that your hamster pal hid in the bedding as well. Even if it looks fresh, you’ll never know what harmful microbes lurk in there if you leave them be.
Wash the cage and accessories as thoroughly as possible
Once every item’s out of the cage, start the cleansing process. If your hamster cage consists of several parts, take them apart for easier cleaning.
Disassembling the hamster cage allows you to reach through every nook and cranny, enabling a deeper clean for each section.
Then, scrub the entire enclosure with mild soap and water mixture. Again, if you don’t want to use soap for fear of the residue, mix vinegar with water instead.
Never use full strength bleach to give the enclosure a thorough clean. Not only is it harmful to animals, but its fumes can also become a hazard to us humans.
Don’t forget to clean the accessories as well. Chances are, your little hamster hid something icky in those tiny crevices.
If you forget to clean the accessories, you’re putting your hamster at risk for ear and eye infections.
After washing everything, rinse everything out with water. Make sure not to leave residues or toxic fumes that’ll also put your hamster in danger.
Dry everything and rearrange it after
Now that everything’s immaculately clean and looking brand new again, dry everything out. Air drying everything out is a good measure to ensure not a single drop of water’s left behind.
But, if you don’t have the time, paper towels are a huge help in keeping everything dry.
If you’re too lazy to do this process, water can make your new bedding soggy, allowing mold to grow and endanger your pet.
Once you’re sure that each part of the cage’s dry, start reassembling the pen. And, while you’re at the task, make sure to place two to three inches of fresh bedding on the cage floor.
Depending on what’s available (as well as your preference), use litter made from the following materials:
- Paper products
- Vegetables and grains
- Shredded paper (if you’re on a tight budget as this material’s not absorbent and quickly gets damp)
Steer clear of pine or cedar bedding litter. These litter materials can cause respiratory problems for your little pal.
Once the bedding’s set up, put the toys, accessories, and tunnels back to their rightful places. You can even do some rearrangement if you like – just don’t make it too strange to stress your hamster out.
After which, place your hamster pals back inside the cage. For sure, they’ll be more than happy to strut around in their newly-cleaned enclosure.
Throw away soiled bedding and gloves used
Don’t leave the soiled bedding, used paper towels, and disposable cloth lying around. Throw them immediately in the garbage bag and tie them up securely.
If you used cloth rags, make sure to sanitize them before using them the next time.
But don’t throw all the old batch of bedding out. As hamsters find it stressful to live in a strange environment, leave the cleaner bedding behind and spread them in the enclosure.
But, after everything’s clean, don’t forget to wash your hand thoroughly as well. This step will undoubtedly keep you safe from harmful bacteria and viruses lurking in your hands.
How often should I schedule a hamster cage cleanup?
Reading the steps above might seem a bit too much, especially for young children taking in a hamster for the first time.
But, you need not fret too much if your primary concern is the frequency with which you’ll need to clean your hamster’s abode.
But, before you start arranging your schedule, take a look at these four factors first:
- Number of hamsters inside the cage (the more hamsters, the more you’ll need to clean)
- How fast does the cage become dirty?
- Does the cage’s odor bother you?
- Size of the hamster cage
Generally speaking, you can schedule the cleanup on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
Daily hamster cage care
Following the steps mentioned above daily isn’t a feat anyone can do (except, of course, if you’re OC – no pun intended). Aside from being cumbersome, it’ll also put stress on your little furball.
So, what should you clean every day?
Since it’s merely a spot-clean, start with checking the cage for left-over food scattered around the enclosure.
Though you’ve provided food bowls, chances are the hamsters hoarded the food in their burrows. Hence, it’s best to keep track of their hoarded food and get them out before they start rotting away.
Weekly cleaning routine
Though you’re conscientious enough to clean your hamster’s cage daily, you’ll still need to clean the area out weekly. Just follow the steps mentioned earlier, and you’re good to go.
It’s also a good chance to remove any soiled bedding that you haven’t got the opportunity to clean due to other chores.
If your hamster’s trained to use a litter box, then make sure to scoop up and dispose of any left-over dropping clumps.
If you can’t manage to clean your hamster’s cage weekly thoroughly, you can schedule this once a month.
But, if you don’t like the major overhaul a weekly or monthly cleaning entails, do what’s called spot cleaning.
As soon as you see a dirty area, you immediately clean it up.
In this way, you lessen the odor from the cage and lower the frequency of cleaning it entirely.
The smaller the cage, the more you’ll have to clean it out as odors tend to become more pungent in enclosed spaces.
How should I sanitize the cage if my hamster’s sick?
If your hamster’s ill, chances are viruses, bacteria, or fungus caused it. While you still aren’t sure what microbe caused your rodent’s illness, isolate it as soon as possible.
Once you safely isolated the sick hamster, start disinfecting the enclosure. Wear your cleaning gloves to avoid a potential spread of infection to you and your other pets.
As for the cage, just follow the same cleaning steps. The only difference is you’ll use a mild bleach solution (¼ cup bleach + 2 ¼ cups water) as a cleansing solution.
Just rinse the cage thoroughly with water until the scent’s gone.
The trick here is to continue rinsing the enclosure with water as long as you still smell the bleach on it.
So, are you now more confident to clean your tiny rodent’s humble abode? If you are, then better start now!