Is Fleece Bedding Right for Me?
Fleece looks great and cute in all of the photos across the internet for guinea pig cages. Keep in mind that most people take photos just after they've changed their cage and everything looks neat and clean. Of course, the reality is a bit different.
There is no RIGHT or WRONG or MAGIC solution to bedding!
It all depends on your needs and lifestyle and desires. It's all a TRADE-OFF!
There are some nice benefits to using fleece. But before you consider fleece as a bedding solution, you need to be able to answer YES to the following two very important questions!
- Do I LIKE doing LAUNDRY?
- Will I pay DAILY ATTENTION to cleaning the cage of poos?
Please do not take these two questions lightly. IF you do not take proper care of a cage using fleece, it will turn into a disgusting and unhealthy mess for your guinea pigs faster than you can say "whose turn is it to clean the cage!?"
And for those two reasons, we do NOT recommend fleece as a bedding solution when the parents have given responsibility of cage cleaning to their children. Do not do it. "Teaching your child responsibility" should never be a reason to have pets, but if that's the case in your household, please do not use fleece. No matter how great and wonderful your children are right now, it will just be too much work for them over time.
Now, for the children reading this, feel free to email me with how wrong I am (firstname.lastname@example.org). I'm used to those emails. It doesn't change the reality of the years. Pets are a family responsibility and require adult involvement on a daily basis.
Our overriding ethics in bringing these products to you is for the betterment of the pet experience and improvement in the lives of the guinea pigs. We would rather not sell the product than sell you something that isn't the right fit for you. We want our products to be a win/win for you and your guinea pigs.
Fleece is NOT a "Set it and Forget it" bedding solution!
With pine shavings or Carefresh (recycled paper bedding), when you create a nice thick layer of bedding (1.5 to 2 inches) and in properly-sized C&C Cage (2x4 grids) with 2 guinea pigs, you can get away with not changing or refreshing the bedding for about 4 days. You typically don't have to do a full cage cleaning for about 7-8 days -- assuming you did a mid-week refresh or touch-up.
Not so with fleece. With shavings or Carefresh, the poos tend to mix up and move a bit deeper into the bedding and away from the guinea pig on the top layer. With fleece (regardless of whether you are using Fleece Flippers™ or a Fleece Cage Liner), the poos must be brushed off or picked up or vacuumed up every day. Some people even do this more than once a day.
Fleece can be FINICKY
Fleece should be washed with unscented laundry detergent. Using vinegar in the rinse cycle helps as well. Regular detergent may leave residue on the material and prevent the wicking action which is needed for a successful fleece bedding solution. It's important to wash your fleece and absorbent liners in hot water in order to help kill bacteria and encourage wicking.
Fleece requires MULTIPLE WASHINGS before the wicking kicks in
While we do pre-wash both our outer fleece casings as well as the absorbent material (U-Haul pads), you will still need to wash your flippers multiple times before it does a great job at wicking urine into the lower layers. This is the case no matter what kind of fleece approach or product you use. So, initially, if you don't have the patience to do a lot of pre-washing, you'll need to change your flippers OR fleece out probably daily until it starts to wick really well.
Still good with fleece? GREAT!
Be sure to read our Fleece 101 article for a lot more information on how to use, wash and care for fleece bedding.
We recommend the Best of Both Worlds!
My favorite solution is a HYBRID! That is, using Fleece Flippers™ in combination with our Cavy Cafe - Cage Kitchen (available on www.GuineaPigCagesStore.com) or the Cavy Bistro - Cage Kitchen for Medium-sized cages (2x3.5 grids). This solution uses our custom Coroplast tray--designed to fit perfectly with Fleece Flippers™--which provides a nice, safe, easy-access kitchen area where you keep your hay, water bottles and food. This area will get the heavy poo and pee action. It's pretty simple to lift it out, dump it out and clean it. While it does use whatever flavor of traditional bedding you prefer, it doesn't use as much. It helps keep the living and sleeping fleece areas much cleaner.