Cleaning cages is not a fun chore for any pet owner but making cleaning as easy as possible and sticking to a schedule will make it less of a chore and simply a part of your routine.
There are no set rules for how often to clean, but doing a bit of cleaning every day will help keep your rabbit's cage clean and your rabbit healthy and happy. As a general rule, plan on doing a thorough cleaning of your rabbit's cage at least once a week.
However, your rabbit's cage may need a thorough cleaning more often depending on the size of the cage and how well your rabbit is litter trained. If you have more than one rabbit, you may also find that you need to clean a bit more often.
Daily Cleaning of a Rabbit Cage
- Remove any uneaten fresh foods (greens, veggies etc.) from the cage daily (ideally twice daily, in the morning and at night).
- Remove hay from the floor of the cage. If you don't use a hay rack, at least remove any hay that is wet or soiled.
- Wash out the food bowl(s) and wash and refill the water bottle.
- Spot clean small messes such as water spills or litter box misses to help make the weekly cage cleaning much easier.
- Check and scoop or change and clean the litter box as necessary (see below for more on litter box maintenance).
Weekly Cleaning of a Rabbit Cage
- Remove and wash all accessories from the cage.
- Remove and wash all bedding from the cage.
- Wipe down the cage with hot water (use vinegar to remove any urine deposits). If you have a smaller cage, you may want to take it apart and rinse it with hot water (in the tub or with a hose).
- Wash feeding dishes, the water bottle, hay rack and litter box with hot water.
It is a good idea to periodically disinfect your cage, but any disinfectant needs to be rinsed really well and isn't a good option for wood cages (which can soak up the chemicals) or cages that aren't easily moved to a place where they can be hosed off.
A bleach solution (one part bleach to ten parts water) can be used to disinfect the cage and other supplies (soak in this solution for 30 minutes for the best result) but make sure to rinse everything extremely well.
Cleaning Litter Boxes
Litter boxes should be checked daily. This is important because it gives you a chance to monitor your rabbit's urine and feces to make sure there aren't any changes that could indicate a health problem. However, the frequency of litter box changes and cleaning will depend a lot on the type and amount of litter you use. If you use a shallow layer of litter you may want to clean out the litter box daily or you may choose to use a bit more litter and change it less frequently (perhaps scooping out some waste daily). Even with deeper litter, you may need to change it out every three days or so. Vinegar is an excellent cleaner for litter boxes as it readily dissolves the calcium deposits resulting from rabbit urine.
Tips for Cleaning Rabbit Cages
- Vinegar is an excellent tool for cleaning rabbit cages and especially litter boxes. Calcium salts tend to precipitate out of rabbit urine and form a hard material that really sticks to cages and litter boxes. However, vinegar dissolves these calcium salts wonderfully well. Keep some vinegar in a spray bottle for quick cleaning of litter pans and to spray down soiled parts of the cage. If your litter box has more stubborn deposits, simply soak them with vinegar for 10-20 minutes and you should be able to wipe them away.
- Litter training your rabbit (and choosing a good litter) will make cage cleaning chores easier.
- Choosing an absorbent bedding will help to make cage cleaning easier.
- Choosing the right cage is important. A large cage is best for any rabbit but look for one that is easy to clean. Exposed wood surfaces soak up urine and other messes and is difficult to clean.
- Spaying or neutering your rabbit will also help keep the cage cleaner by reducing the incidence of territorial marking and spraying.
- Don't clean items soiled with feces in the kitchen sink. Instead use the bathroom sink, bathtub, or laundry sink to clean litter boxes and then sanitize the sink or tub and surrounding area afterwards. Hosing items down outside is also easy.
- Schedule a weekly cleaning day on your calendar so that you don't forget to do it.
Edited by Adrienne Kruzer, RVT