How to Clean a Hamster Cage (6 Quick Steps)

Hamsters are charming faces—small, round, furry, curious—and it may be tempting to get them on impulse. While these pets are easier to care for than some pets, they still need a lot of commitment and care to help them thrive and have the healthiest lives possible.

Most hamster parents may not know about the care, cleaning and grooming of their pets. Unfortunately, neglecting hamster cage cleaning doesn’t just make it smelly; it can make your pet sick, not to mention you too!

Here is a good hamster habitat cleaning routine.

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How Often Should You Clean Your Hamster Cage?

hamster in cage_Alicja_, Pixabay

Daily Cleaning

Hamsters are clean pets and always have separate sleeping, play and toilet areas. While this trait helps keep their habitat fresh for a long time, it doesn’t mean you should neglect daily cleaning and maintenance.

Every day, pick up the feces, clean the toilet area, and provide your hamster with fresh food and water. Use a spoon or gloved hands to clean dirty bedding and throw it away.

For water and food, it is mandatory to wash food bowls and replace uneaten food if you want to prevent your pet from ingesting contaminated food and water. It is also important to clean it every day to avoid the build-up of bacteria and germs.

Weekly Cleaning

Daily maintenance is essential for responsible ownership, but weekly cleaning and disinfecting is also necessary. Weekly deep cleanings allow you more time in the cage, even if it’s only a pint. This type of cleaning requires a disinfectant such as vinegar, lots of brushing, and rinsing.

Although this type of cleaning is only required once a week, you can do it as often as you like. Very clean if you notice a strong ammonia smell, the bedding looks dirtier than usual, or if your pet doesn’t stick to one toilet bowl.

This routine is for one hamster; if you have more than one coop sharing, you won’t be able to wait a week. You can do this twice a week because the more hamsters there are, the more they will urinate, defecate, and leave food residue behind.

Ideally, the California Hamster Association recommends cleaning the habitat on the same day each week to minimize stress on your pet.

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What Makes the Hamster Cage Smell?

Hammys usually spend most of their time in their cage unless you put them in an exercise ball or transport carrier on the go. For this reason, most will urinate, defecate, and throw food in their bed.

The thing that most often makes the shelter smell is urine. The good thing is that it is easy to clean as pets prefer one corner to urinate. This angle is the same all the time unless he decides to shift the location of his nest.

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The pee’s corner is usually the furthest from the nest, so removing or cleaning the stain in that corner is enough to get rid of the bad odor. However, hamsters defecate in separate corners. If you have more than one hamster in a cage, there will likely be multiple urination corners, though it depends on whether your pests share a nest or just one cage.

Dirt is usually everywhere, but it doesn’t smell because it’s dry. However, make sure to delete it, because it looks bad.

As for food, hamsters tend to keep their uneaten food in one place for later (it’s a hamster’s instinct to make sure it always has enough). If food builds up, it may start to smell, and it helps if you take it out every day. Unless hammy is seriously ill, that’s not the smell; These pets are clean, odorless creatures, and always keep their scent to a minimum.

hamster hiding in pixabay cage

Tips and Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Hamster Cages

You may mis-clean your hamster’s cage and harm your pet, even if you mean well. The good thing is, the errors are honest, and you can easily fix them.

This is what you should pay attention to.

  • Scent – ​​Avoid scented soaps or strong chemicals when cleaning your pet’s cage. You can use a hamster-friendly disinfectant from a pet store.

  • Let the hammy be his old bed and nest to help him identify his home after you’ve cleaned it. Hamsters need to identify by scent, even if they’ve known the cage their whole life. These pets cannot see very well but have a strong sense of smell which they rely on the most. Leaving them a little out of their old bed would make the place seem familiar.

  • Avoid rearranging habitat unless necessary. Hamsters also rely on memory to move around their habitat and become stressed and anxious if they don’t recognize or find the nest. Try to make the nest look like the previous nest and maintain the layout as much as possible. Giving a pet’s cage a complete makeover can be difficult on a hammy.

  • Make sure the base is sufficient but reasonable to make the hamster comfortable and allow it to move around in its cage. The number of beds may vary between hamsters; You may need to provide more bedding for the burrowing hamster than the runner.

Quick Steps How to Clean a Hamster Cage

supply

  • Washcloth or sponge

  • Handtowel (to dry the cage)

  • Vinegar

  • Dish soap or mild hand soap

  • Brush (toothbrush for hard-to-reach spaces)

  • Cleaning gloves

  • Rubbish bin

  • Replacement bed

Syrian hamster looking out of the cage

Step 1: Move Your Hamster To A Safe Place

Once you’ve gathered your supplies and are ready to start cleaning, you’ll need to get the hamster out of the cage for this. Cleaning is a stressful operation for a pet, and finding a safe place for a while will reduce stress and avoid injury if he runs while you clean.

You can use the carrier or sports ball if you’re sure it will take less than an hour to clean. The exercise ball is an enclosed space, and requires food and fresh air.


Step 2: Empty the Cage

Now that your hamster is safe and unobtrusive, go ahead and remove all bedding and discard any used materials, even if they may appear clean. It is best to give your pet a fresh and clean shelter. Also, remove hiding places, food, food bowls, water bottles, toys, and wheels to prevent soiled bedding and food from remaining trapped under objects.

Set them aside and identify those that need scrubbing, even though most of them may appear clean and don’t need rinsing. If you find a hamster nest and food storage area, save some of the food and nest to put back in the cage after you’ve finished cleaning.

During this time, use a trash spoon and gloved hands to avoid direct contact with trash. Also, avoid inhaling pet waste directly as it can expose you to diseases such as lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM).


Step 3: Wash the Cage thoroughly

Once it’s all out, you’ll have an empty, dusty cage. Scrub the empty cage with a mild soap, cage cleaning solution, or hand soap and warm water.

You can also choose to use vinegar instead of soap, only you’ll need to thoroughly clean the residue when you’re done. If you can still smell the solution, it will be too much for your hamster

Sometimes, white, crusty pee stains don’t go away easily and may need to be scrubbed or soaked first. You can disassemble the cage (depending on the type) to allow you to clean everywhere and reduce the hassle of trying to access doors and small spaces. Dry the cage with a hand towel to prevent mold from forming or the bedding sticking to a wet spot.


Step 4: Rinse Cage Accessories

Cleaning in your cage isn’t complete if you don’t clean accessories like toys, tunnels, wheels, or dishes.

It’s important to do this because these objects can harbor urine, dirt, germs, and bacteria and can cause your pet to develop ear and eye problems if you constantly expose them to contaminated surfaces.

Wash, rinse, and dry accessories well before returning them to the cage. However, some accessories such as textile hamster toys may require a complete replacement as they may still smell and trap some stains regardless of how hard you rub them.


Step 5. Install the Enclosure

You can start reassembling the cage once everything is clean and dry. Start by filling and laying two to three inches of new soft bedding all over the surface. Avoid unfriendly bedding such as pine and cedar as they can give your pet breathing problems.

Return each accessory to its original state or customize it to your pet’s liking. You can also let him redecorate to his liking. Once everything is ready and the water and food bowls are full, return your pet to their home.


Step 6: Dispose of Dirty Bedding and Gloves

Throw away any trash, bedding, hand towels, and gloves you use to clean your hamster’s cage. Throw them in the trash. It is also best to wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning operations.

male and female hamsters

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Summary

Daily cleaning can help remove superficial stains, but if dirt starts to stain the accessories, bedding and surfaces of the cage, a deep cleaning at least once a week is necessary.

If you love your hamster and want him to be happy, healthy and leave your home smelling good, do your best to clean the cage and hamster itself.

However, hamsters are sensitive creatures and may find cleaning operations and a new cage stressful. Try to make the process easy and safe, and make sure that your pet finds the cage as familiar as possible without getting dirty.


Featured Image: Mary Swift, Shutterstock