Cleaning the pet cage is probably one of the tasks that are often postponed by pet owners. There are obviously more fun things to do with a chinchilla, but cleaning is a part of being a pet parent, and postponing the chores is not the solution. Imagine you have to live in a dirty house, and you have no way to clean up. Leaving a dirty cage can even be a health risk for your chinchilla and for yourself.
As a whole, a chinchilla cage should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a week. In addition to that in-depth cleaning, dirtier spots such as a litter box, food dish, water bottle, and the sand in the sand bath should be cleaned more regularly.
The frequency of your cleaning session depends on the size of the cage, the number of chinchillas you own, whether you tend to clean parts of the cage throughout the week as well, and whether your chin is using a litter box or not.
In the following, you find a detailed cleaning plan for your chinchilla cage.
How Do You Keep a Chinchilla Cage Clean?
Chinchillas are clean animals that do not like to live and sleep in their own dirt. They keep their fur clean by sand bathing regularly and can even be potty trained. There are several areas in a chinchilla cage that needs to be cleaned regularly to provide a clean and hygienic home for your pet.
I personally love to use a spray bottle with a mixture of vinegar and water in it, which makes the entire cleaning process a lot easier and less messy.
Clean the Water Bottle
A water bottle is a place where lots of bacteria can grow in the straw. It is important to exchange the water on a daily basis and to clean the bottle. You don’t have to thoroughly clean it every day, but rinsing it with fresh water will already help to keep the bottle clean.
Once a week the water bottle should be cleaned more thoroughly with either only water or a mixture of vinegar and water. Soaps can cause stomach issues and should be avoided on items that your chinchilla will drink from.
Clean the Feeding bowl
A feeding bowl is a place where the chinchilla spends a lot of time. Some chinchillas might even poop in the bowl. Most chinchillas sit on the edge of the bowl while eating pellets. Cleaning the feeding bowl on a regular basis is very important because a lot of bacteria can grow in the bowl and on the edge and can lead to digestive issues.
You can use either water or a mixture of vinegar and water for cleaning purposes.
Clean the Litter Box
Not every chinchilla can be potty trained, but it is not uncommon for chinchillas to prefer a specific spot for their droppings. If your chinchilla uses a litter box as a toilet, it will make cleaning a lot easier and the cage in general cleaner at all times. Chinchillas like a clean litter box, and if the litter box is too dirty, they might refuse to use it and start urinating and littering all over the enclosure instead of using the litter box.
Clean the litter box at least every other day, remove all dumping, and refill it with litter.
The litter box should be deep-cleaned once a week. Remove all litter and scrub the surface of the litter box with a mixture of vinegar and water or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar if it is very dirty.
Exchange the Bedding, Towels, and Fleece
The bedding, shavings, towels, or fleece you use in the enclosure should be removed and replaced once a week during the thorough cleaning session. Towels and fleece can be washed, while the bedding and shaving should be completely removed. Depending on whether your chinchilla is potty trained or not, you might want to exchange the bedding more than once a week so that bacteria have no chance to grow in the cage.
I tend to have a separate bag for washing/cleaning and for disposal, and once everything but the bedding is outside of the enclosure I toss the entire bedding in the disposal bag and proceed to clean the floor.
Toys don’t have to be excessively cleaned as most toys don’t survive for a very long time anyway. Wooden toys that became filthy can be scrubbed off with water or a mixture of water and vinegar, depending on the level of filthiness. Plastic toys can be washed off, but honestly, there shouldn’t be any plastic toys in a chinchilla cage anyways. If toys become too dirty and cannot be cleaned, such as toys made of hay, just get rid of them and get new ones.
Clean the Floor and shelves
The floors and shelves should be cleaned once a week. You can clean the floor and the shelves with a mixture of water and vinegar, or water with a drop of dishwashing soap. If the floor and the shelves are not too dirty, you can also simply use water.
Clean the Metal Wires
Metal wires are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, therefore those need to be cleaned as well. You should clean the metal bars once a week. Use a paper towel or some kind of cloth and a mixture of water and vinegar to wipe over the metal wires of the cage to keep them hygienic.
Chinchillas should be allowed to use their sand baths every day. They love to roll through the sand and clean their fur. Some chinchillas urinate and poop in the sand. All dumpings of your chinchilla can be removed by setting the sand run through a sieve and the sand can be reused. But at least once a week the entire sand should be exchanged and the sand bath itself should be scrubbed clean by using vinegar and water, or water with a drop of dishwashing soap.
Where Can I Put My Chinchilla While Cleaning?
It is possible to leave the chinchilla in the cage while cleaning, even though a curious pet might get in the way and make the cleaning progress a bit more complicated.
A good way to entertain your chinchilla while you are cleaning the cage is to let it have a sand bath. If the cleaning takes longer than your chinchillas bathing session, you can have your pet roaming free in the room if it is already tame enough and you know for sure that it will come back into the cage.
You can also have a second cage as a play area with other toys for your chinchilla that you can use while you are cleaning. Your chinchilla will love the chance the explore a new environment and you don’t have to check on your pet while you are cleaning.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂