Paper Bedding or Fleece?

In this post I will talk about the different kinds of bedding used for guinea pigs, how to use them, and the pros and cons of each. First, I will discuss paper bedding from the popular brand, CareFresh.

CareFresh has been used for years by guinea pig owners before the discovery of fleece. They’re great because they absorb urine and odor quite well. Typically, you need to spread about 2-3 inches of the bedding in their cage. Most people do a spot clean every day or every other day simply by scooping up any soiled bedding, then replacing it with more bedding in the cage. After a week, a full cage clean is done.

All of this sounds great, however, even a 60L of CareFresh will only last maybe 2 full cleanings, or two weeks in a 2×4 C&C cage. They retail for $22.99 depending on where you purchase them, so you’re looking to spend $46 every month on just CareFresh alone. That’s $552 a year! Sure, CareFresh works quite well in terms of hiding odor and absorbing urine, but there’s also a major cost factor involved.

And cost aside, guinea pigs tend to make a huge mess with the CareFresh since they tend to run around in their cage plenty. Sometimes they end up falling outside the cage, leaving frustrated owners to clean up the mess.

As for fleece, there is lots of preparation involved before using them. For one, they need to be washed multiple times (by multiple, I mean anywhere from 3-5 times, sometimes more) so that it can wick urine into the lower layers of the fleece instead of just sitting on top. You also want to make sure that you spot clean your fleece every single day, or you’re left with a smelly cage filled with poop. By not spot cleaning daily, you’re putting your guinea pigs in a very unsanitary environment that can be detrimental to their health over time.

If you know that you wouldn’t be able to clean the fleece daily, this might not be good for your guinea pigs and you might want to opt for traditional bedding. Also, if you do not have a washer/dryer in your home, this might also be problematic since you’d have to perform a full cage cleanout every week. Washing fleece can run you lots more money if you have to take them to the laundromat once a week along with your other clothing items.

Even if you do own a washer and dryer, fleece needs to be washed a certain way for it to do its job in your guinea pig cage. Such as, unscented detergent along with vinegar need to be used instead of traditional laundry detergent liquid. Scented detergent can leave behind films and residue that can interfere with the wicking action of fleece, rendering it useless in the cage. Also, when drying your fleece, dryer sheets or fabric sheets should not be used.

Unlike CareFresh, the poops from guinea pigs don’t sink into the bedding when using fleece. The poop merely sits on top and the guinea pigs come into contact with it all the time. For this reason, you will need to invest in a hand held vacuum or dustpan to vacuum or brush away any poop at least once or even twice a day.

Also, you will need to purchase any of the following as an absorbent layer in the cage before putting fleece on top:

  1. Towels
  2. Uhauls
  3. Puppy Pads
  4. Newspaper

All this said, the main reason why so many opt to use fleece instead of paper bedding is because it is so cost effective. There is the initial cost of buying upfront; however fleece generally lasts for years and can be used over and over again. In a way, they are very similar to cloth diapers for babies. In short, the individual guinea pig owner needs to make their own decisions on which bedding to use. Every situtation is different so I cannot say which is better and which is worse. They both have their pros and cons, which I will list below:

CareFresh Bedding Pros:

  • Does a great job of absorbing urine and hiding odors from guinea pigs
  • Only requires a quick spot clean by throwing out soiled bedding daily

CareFresh Bedding Cons:

  • After two uses, guinea pig owners need to purchase more bedding for their cage
  • CareFresh bedding is expensive

Fleece Bedding Pros:

  • Extremely cost effective
  • Lesser chance of guinea pigs developing respiratory problems in the future
  • Gentle and cushiony on guinea pig feet
  • Pretty colors and patterns!!

Fleece Bedding Cons:

  • Requires spot cleaning a few times daily
  • Requires weekly maintenance of washing with specific detergent
  • Can be costly if going to a laundromat
  • Initially needs to be washed multiple times before using
  • Needs absorbent layers to act as a base in the cage before using fleece
  • If not maintained daily, cage tend to get smelly fairly quickly
  • Fleece needs to be changed out once sometimes even twice a week

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