About fleece bedding ….. How it works, how to use it, how to clean it.
Nov 2020 – These are two of my piggies Nibbles & Maxine – I use Deano fleece cage liners all year round. I have 8 guinea pigs, and live in Perth WA
WE ALL NEED TO CONSIDER THE ENVIRONMENT : Be environmentally aware of how your bedding choices can contribute to the bigger pollution problem – disposable puppy pads (and disposable nappies) can take 200 years to degrade in landfill sites.
Fleece cage liners: Washable and reusable bedding for small pets
I have been making fleece cage liners since 2013.
WHAT ARE THEY? – Deano fleece cage liners have three layers, all stitched securely together. There’s nothing to pull out or recover – it’s just a simple ‘mat’ that you can wash, over and over.
The top and bottom layers are polar fleece – this fabric works as a wick to pull liquids into the middle absorbent layer and keep it there – like a disposable nappy. This means the outer surfaces are dry and comfortable for your pets.
WHATS INSIDE?: The liners contain a non-toxic, highly absorbent cotton based core on the inside which absorbs and holds the liquids. There is NO PLASTIC or BAMBOO in my liners.
Liquids will not leak out through the bottom so no need for any plastic barrier..
Deano liners need nothing else on top or underneath to make them work for you – no carefresh, no puppy pads, no shavings, no towels ….nothing!
Save yourself time, money and water by washing one single item – instead of many bedding layers .
No need for the layers of soggy newspaper, pee soaked towels, or those cheap fleece blankets that just stay wet….. yuk!
The Deano cage liners are designed to be reversible which makes cleaning halfway through the week a breeze!
Just shake out your liner, flip it over and your cage is nice and clean for a few more days. So no matter which side faces up, it will work for you.
I recommend the liners should be spot cleaned daily to keep your pet’s home clean and healthy.
You can do this easily by using a small broom and dustpan or even purchasing a hand-held vacuum.
Of course you can also just remove the fleece liner and take it outside, shake it out and put it back in for a quick cleaning day.
In between washes – if you’re pressed for time, take the liner out and hang it in the breeze for a few hours to dry off. It will start working again straight away.
All fleece cage liners should be changed out every 4-7 days or as needed. Please do not keep them in the cage any longer, even if the cage liner still feels dry to the touch.
Our fleece cage liners are made to be easy to use, easy to wash, and quick to dry – so they can get back into the cage faster.
All Deano Designs Perth liners are easy to clean – machine wash, or hose them off outdoors, or handwash them.
02.10.2021 HOW FLEECE CAGE LINERS WORK: There’s only two components, no magic wand.
POLAR FLEECE: Polar fleece in itself is not absorbent, it’s made from plastic. However, if it is processed and spun the right way, it is very good as a wicking fabric, that can pull liquids through itself. It is made with a waterproof barrier on it – it’s designed to keep you dry as in polar clothing. It is available in different grades – some will have no really visible pile, and others will appear quite tufty, when you brush your hand over it.
The average weight of store bought polar fleece is around 150gsm, and there are some luxury weight fleeces that are around 350gsm – a little like we gauge thread counts on bed sheets – the more gsm, the denser and heavier the fleece. They will all work for fleece liners, as long as there is good contact with an absorbent layer behind it – so liquids can pass thru the fleece effectively.
Personal choice comes in – some folks like it tufty and soft, some like it smooth and sleek – they’ll all work if prepped in the right way when you start washing them for use.
CORE LAYER: The inner core layer for liners is usually cotton based, bamboo wadding, cotton wadding, towels etc –
Many fleece liner makers use a recycled cotton product that can go by many names – but basically it is made from recycled clothing, such as denim jeans, cottons, polyesters etc.
Absorbency rates for this product is not measured, it does not really have an absorbency rating – it depends on ratios of what fabrics types are combined in the mix when it’s made.
The clothing and textile waste is shredded, cut, stretched etc to make a pulpy consistency, some binders added to hold it together – then rolled out to create a stable, durable, absorbent product. It won’t rip, it’s absorbent, and can last many years, and has many uses.
It’s manufactured in countries such as China and India where textile manufacturing create waste products. It’s also a way the world disposes of all the clothing we throw away, millions of tonnes each year. So in a way, it helps the environment as it’s a recycled product that can last years in it’s new form.
So what makes a good core layer? – well, thicker is not necessarily better – too thick means the liner will suck loads of liquids, but then take a long time to dry before you can reuse it. If it’s too thin, liquids will pas thru it and out the other side. Somewhere between 3-6mm seems to be the best – it allows liquids in, but does not allow them out again thru the back, and drying time after washing is acceptable.
IMPORTANT: As a fleece liner maker, I take these two readymade items, and sew them together to make a reusable bedding product.
I buy my fleece from two well known suppliers here in Perth. I buy the core material from a company in Melbourne as it is not available here in Perth.
Neither of these readymade components is washed before I sew it – so they’re both new when I buy them.
If it is a faulty component, I will do my best to sort it which may involve consulting my supplier, the workmanship (sewing) is of course my responsibility.
Washing and drying them several times will get them working in unison, keep it simple, and don’t overload them with soakers, stain removers etc.
IMPORTANT: If there’s a problem after several attempts to get it right, you need to ask for some help – sometimes it can be a simple change to the washing technique that can reset the problem and get them going.
Setting Up your Fleece Liners : So you have your new fleece bedding, now what?
Polyester Fleece is made from plastic, so it is not absorbent on it’s own. However, the fleece fibres will allow liquids to travel through it, into an absorbent layer underneath – this is called ‘wicking’.
TO WICK YOUR LINERS: Wash and dry liners at least twice before placing in your pets cage. This is to remove the waterproof layer the fleece has on it from manufacturing.
WASHING: Use warm water, a liquid detergent – wash and rinse the liners well, use no softeners. DRY THEM in between the washes – under cover on the clothesline is best – be aware that fleece is not UV stable, so repeated exposure to direct sunlight will degrade the fabric.
Testing for wicking: Use a little warm water – if liquid soaks in quickly, they’re ready for use. If the liquid pools on top for more than 1 minute, another wash and dry is needed.
Cleaning Soiled Fleece Liners – do this first
Before you start, remove the bowls, cubbies, animals etc from the cage while you are cleaning it.
Firstly, take a dustpan and give the cage liner a sweep – to remove hay, poops and cage rubbish.
Then roll up the liner and remove from the cage. I find a laundry basket is good for this task.
IMPORTANT: Remove as much hay, poops, scraps and rubbish off the liner with a brush or vacuum before you attempt to wash it.
The more hair, hay, food scraps etc you can remove from the liners before you attempt to wash them, the less ends up thru your washing machine.
HOW I WASH MINE HERE AT HOME: Myself – I hang the soiled liners on the clothesline outside and give them a brush with a dry scrubbing brush to remove rubbish, hair etc, in a downward action onto the brick pavers. I just sweep the rubbish up off the floor when done and bin it.
My other favourite hair and rubbish removal tool is a $3 squeegee from Red Dot.
I let my liners dry off for a few hours in the breeze before washing them in a separate machine, just for animal bedding. I use cold water and a general purpose liquid detergent..
CLEANING OPTIONS – decide what works best for you, your household and your budget.
HOSING TO CLEAN THEM OUTDOORS: If you feel the liner is just too gross to throw into the household washing machine, brush it off then get the garden hose to it instead. Some folks throw the liner onto a gate or fence, throw on some liquid detergent, and hose them clean.
There’s nothing wrong with this method – however, you don’t want to hurt your back, or break the clothes line trying to hang a very heavy one. If you can’t spin the water out, it will take a lot longer to drip dry.
MACHINE WASHING: use a regular cycle, warm or cold water, with liquid detergent (as they rinse away better than powder), and spin dry. No fabric softener.
HAND WASHING: You could handwash the liners in your laundry tub instead, and then peg them on your clothes line to dry undercover or in the shade outside.
Remembering that the more water you get out by spin cycle in the washing machine or squeezing, the sooner your Fleece Liner will be dry.
When washing, use a liquid detergent to wash your Fleece Liner. The eco friendly generic ones are fine. If the liners are a little smelly or really dirty, add half a cup of vinegar to the wash for an extra boost in cleaning.
DRYING: I highly recommend drying your Fleece Liner outside undercover by pegging them over your clothes line and depending on your weather they will dry quite quickly. Fleece is made from plastic, so is not UV stable – repeated exposure to sunlight will degrade the fabric.
As with any washing the more water you can squeeze out after washing, the sooner your Fleece Liners will be dry. Line drying is kind to the environment, and saves on energy costs to you.
TUMBLE DRYING: Fleece Liners may be tumble dried on a low/medium heat in 5 minute bursts. It should be noted that Fleece is a synthetic fabric and repeated tumble drying on high temperatures may reduce the lifespan of your Fleece Liners.
Tumble dryers are a little like cheese graters on fleece – this is where the lint in the door comes from. Little bits of fleece are scraped off on each tumble, thus, less tufts to wick liquids effectively down into the absorbent layer.
ODOURS: Depending if your cage is indoors or outdoors, if you have odours that tend to linger after washing, try a cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle.
**Do check with your manufacturer if this is recommended for your machine. Vinegar can neutralize many odours without harsh chemicals, it will also soften many fabrics.
SOAKING – It’s really not necessary.
As humans we soak items of clothing, linen etc to remove stains like food, blood, makeup etc.
Your rabbit or guinea pigs’ bedding has some pee on it, and perhaps some powdery brown stuff (which is poop thats starting the crumble apart into powder). They eat an organic diet, chew their food very thoroughly, and well, there really is not anything bacterially nasty in it. If you are sweeping up poops, and cleaning your liners often enough, there is simply no need to soak them.
One important point to remember if you do soak them in prewash, stain removers etc – these will over time build up in the middle layer of the liner. There will come a time that with so much residue in the absorbent layer, it simply will not absorb liquids anymore.
RINSE THE MACHINE:
I highly recommend putting your washing machine through a extra rinse cycle after it’s finished cleaning your Fleece Liner – as it will remove any loose pet hair from your machine – stopping hair from getting on any clothes in the next load of washing.
You could also add a rinse additive such as Canesten or Dettol Laundry Rinse to kill any germs from the bedding.
Alternatively, if you do not want to use the family washing machine to do the cage liners in, try the laundry tub and hand wash them instead.
WANT TO REDUCE WHATS LEFT BEHIND IN THE WASHING MACHINE?
Why not try one of our mesh washbags.
They’re 80cmx60cm, ideal for washing fleece bedding items including liners, cuddle sacks, hammocks, tunnels etc – for more details find them in the SHOP section of the website. $8.00ea or 2 for $15 + postage.
BUT I DON’T WANT PET BEDDING IN MY HOME WASHING MACHINE – Laundromats often have machines just for pet bedding, or you could invest in a second washing machine just for the bedding only. They can be hooked up to an outside tap without too much fuss. Plenty of Google videos out there about how to do it.
WHY CHANGE FROM USING PUPPY PADS?
– Puppy pads can take hundreds of years to decompose in landfill sites, not unlike disposable nappies from babies.
– They can contaminate underground water supplies, they are also generally toxic if chewed or ingested by pets due to the gels, crystals contained within them as an absorbent layer.
We all know that we can’t sustain the practice of just throwing these toxic items into landfill each week.
Washable, reusable bedding has to be a better option for long term use in pet cages.
Puppy pads were basically invented for short term use, while you trained your new dog to go outside to the toilet. They may be convenient, and a ‘no-touch’ way to absorb pee in guinea pig and bunny cages – but they cost us all in the long term. Cheap to buy, quick to throw away – but there are better and more sustainable bedding options.
Snowy’s Quick Guide to a Clean Cage:
I have taken some snaps here at home, of myself going through the steps of cleaning the cage for Snowy.
The instructions are easy to follow – it really does not have to be difficult to have a clean and tidy cage.
Take your pets out and put them somewhere safe while you clean their cage.
Remove food bowls and cage accessories.
Roll the liner up and carry to the rubbish bin or garden.
Give the liner a good shake or brush off into the bin or garden.
Remove any left over odd bits with brush and dustpan, and wipe over with a vinegar/water disinfectant.
Put the same liner back in reverse or a fresh clean one back into the cage.
Put the food bowls and cage accessories back in, as well as your pets.
Now it’s all clean, you can wash the dirty fleece liner either by hand or machine.
FINISHED: All in less than 10 minutes ?
The instructions above are for a full clean out – some people only need to do this once a week or less.
In between liner washes, you can simply sweep up the rubbish off the liner with a brush –
or take the liner out and give it a shake either into the bin, or into the garden.
Once you have tried fleece cage liners – you won’t go back to stinky towels, soggy paper and wet hay.
It’s better for both you – the cage cleaner, and the animals – the cage dirtiers!
Benefits of using Soaker Pads with Fleece Cage Liners..
Using soaker pads along with your fleece cage liners can actually save even more cleaning time!
The soaker pads are made exactly the same as the fleece cage liners, they are just smaller sizes. They perform the same, get cleaned the same, and are a great investment for your cage or enclosure. Wash and dry them twice before use, and use no fabric softener.
How to use them:
Place the soaker pad in a spot that gets wet often: under a drippy water bottle, under a frozen bottle to catch the water dribbles as it defrosts, under the corner litter pan, under the hidey house, or perhaps in that corner that seems to be an extra toilet area.
Liquids will be drawn into the absorbent core layer and held there – the liquids will not travel further down into the main floor liner. This means you can change or wash the soaker pads more often, and the main floor liner less often.
Soaker pads are sold as singles, pairs or sets. Perhaps consider having some soaker pads made to match your next fleece cage liners, then you can swap and change the decor around as you like.