Along with all the joys that come with owning a hamster, there are responsibilities as well. Among the most important of these is keeping their cage clean. So, how and how often should you clean your hamster’s cage?
Here’s how you clean a hamster cage:
- Remove your hamster from the cage.
- Remove your hamster’s toys and accessories.
- Get rid of soiled bedding.
- Remove half of the hamster’s bedding.
- Wipe down the cage after the 3rd or 4th clean.
- Add new bedding to the hamster cage.
- Clean toys, food dishes, and platforms.
- Redecorate your hamster’s cage.
The rest of this article will explain in detail how to organize and spot-clean your hamster’s cage, as well as how to do a full cage clean. I’ll also list some safe places to put your hamster while you’re cleaning the cage.
8 Steps to Clean Hamster Cage
Before you start cleaning your hamster’s cage, you first want to remove your hamster from the cage. I’ve listed some great places to put your hamster while cleaning their cage at the bottom of this article for you to check out.
Essentially, you should put your hamster somewhere secure and enclosed so it won’t get hurt, lost, or interrupt you during cleaning.
Besides removing your hamster from the cage, you also want to remove the toys and accessories from the cage. The toys include anything unattached to the cage itself, such as the hamster wheel. Doing so will prevent soiled bedding, poop, or food from remaining trapped beneath these objects.
After removing the toys and accessories, clear out any bedding or poop stuck on the accessories. Then, organize them into piles of which ones you’ll be cleaning and won’t be cleaning.
Anything natural or wooden doesn’t usually require cleaning unless it looks, smells, or feels dirty. You should always disinfect your hamster’s plastic toys and accessories.
After you’ve removed the accessories and toys, look through the bedding for any soiled, wet, or yellow spots. Remove them and then throw them into a plastic trash bag. Doing this is essential, as soiled bedding can lead to bacteria growth and infections.
Look under the bedding for any poop that may have fallen. Hamster’s poops are small and lightweight and often fall to the bottom of the cage.
While removing urine or feces, you should always wear gloves and a litter scoop to get as little direct contact with your hamster’s waste as possible.
Now that you’ve removed the soiled parts of the bedding, remove half of it and leave half of it in the cage.
You should only remove half, as getting rid of all of it can seriously stress your hamster out. Your hamster is already comfortable with the scent of its old bedding, so if you get rid of all of the bedding and replace it with something new, that can stress your furry friend.
Doing so is like giving your hamster a whole new enclosure—a place that can take some time for your hamster to feel safe in again.
In one published study, it was found that performing a full cage clean raised the heart rates of Syrian hamsters by 150 bpm. It took them almost an hour to calm down afterward.
Thus, always leave some old bedding in the cage after cleaning for your hamster to come back to.
You should only wipe down the entire cage after the 3rd or 4th clean, not every time. Doing it every time can lower your hamster’s immune system. However, make sure to disinfect the whole cage every 3rd or 4th clean to get rid of any contamination.
First, remove all bedding and objects until it’s empty. Then, wipe down the inside with mild soap and water or a disinfectant. If you have a cage that you can take apart, disassemble it so you can easily clean each part as thoroughly as possible.
There may be some stains in the cage that’ll require a bit more effort cleaning. If there are some particularly stubborn ones, you may want to soak the cage in soap and water for a bit and then scrub it thoroughly.
Put the old half of the bedding back into the cage and fill the rest of the container with fresh bedding. You can mix the beddings together in order to familiarize the new scents to your hamster.
Fill in the cage with bedding until it’s around 3 inches deep. Putting plenty of bedding in the cage is especially important after cleaning as it will soothe and comfort your hamster in its new environment.
To clean all plastic toys and accessories, you should place them in the bathtub and spray them down with disinfectant. After spraying the toys and accessories with disinfectant, let them sit and soak for about five minutes. After five minutes, rinse them off with water.
Wipe out the food and water dishes with some disinfectant. Hamsters sometimes like to go to the bathroom in their food dishes, and since they also eat out of them, it’s important they’re thoroughly cleaned.
Finally, wipe down any platforms or tubes inside the cage with a disinfectant or water and vinegar solution to remove any urine or feces on them. Make sure to get into all the corners and crevices you can, as this is where bacteria likes to build up.
Put all the clean toys, water, food dishes, and accessories back into the cage. You can choose to either put them back exactly as they were before or re-arrange them to your liking.
Here’s the fun part, as you can redecorate the accessories to your liking, giving the cage a new, fresh personality. You may choose to switch out and add in some new toys, which will be fun for your hamster to discover. Doing so also provides your hamster with new enrichment to enjoy.
Now you can put your hamster back inside its newly cleaned cage. It’ll most likely be very curious and eager to explore its surroundings and the new arrangements.
How often you should do a full cage clean depends on how big your cage is and how many hamsters you have. Most cages only need to be fully cleaned out once a month.
Any cage above 450 square inches (2,903 sq cm) should never be cleaned out more than once a month. If you have a very large enclosure—larger than 700–800 square inches (4,516–5,161 sq cm), it can probably go a little bit longer than a month in between cleanings.
However, if your hamster cage is pretty small, you may need to clean a full cage at shorter intervals, such as every two weeks. It also applies if you have more than one hamster.
Use your best judgment to decide when your cage needs a full clean. If the enclosure sides look dirty or smudged, and if it smells, it probably needs a full cage clean.
Dirty cages can lead to bacterial or fungal infections in your hamster, such as wet tail and upper respiratory illness. Hamsters also typically don’t show signs of illness until it’s severe. Check out this page for signs of illness in your hamster: Know the Signs of a Sick Hamster.
Here are some great places to put your hamster while cleaning its cage, some of which are available on Amazon.com in various cities in the United States of America:
- Dry Bathtub: A dry bathtub can make a great and easy temporary holder for your hamster since it can’t climb up the sides to get out. Put some toys in the bath with it to keep it occupied and calm while you do your cleaning.
- Travel Cage: A travel cage can be a great temporary shelter for your hamster. This Habitrail OVO Transport Unit is affordable, breathable, and completely secure. It has a retractable hood and clear sides so you can easily keep an eye on your hamster.
- Mini Cage: You can make a temporary cage for your hamster with a plastic bin with tall sides so it can’t escape, or you can buy one. This Lee’s Kritter Keeper is a great choice. It’s affordable, well-ventilated, and has room for toys.
- Playpen: A playpen can be a great place to keep your hamster while cleaning. Check out this Amakunft Small Pet Playpen, perfect for small animals, including hamsters. It’s highly breathable and secure, and you can set it up in only seconds.
Cleaning out your hamster’s cage is necessary to keep your furry friend happy and healthy. Though it may seem overwhelming at first, it gets easier and more intuitive with time. When cleaning the cage, make sure you place your hamster in a temporary safe place like a travel cage or a playpen.
Related Hamsters articles:
- How Much Does a Dwarf Hamster Cost?
- Why Is My Hamster Not Moving?
- How Much Does a Hamster Cage Cost?
- How Long Can You Leave a Hamster Alone?
- Why Is My Hamster Squeaking?
My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more