9.02.2011

Secrets of Fleece Bedding for Guinea Pigs Revealed - Part II, Selection and Preparation

Our bedding storage closet (fleece on the bottom, towels on the top)

Here's Part II of our Secrets of Fleece Bedding Revealed mini series! (For Part I click here.) In this post, we will outline where to find fleece, what type of fleece you should buy, and how to prepare it.

Preparation is the most important step to using fleece bedding. When prepared incorrectly, fabric will fail to wick away moisture from the surface to the absorbent layer of towels underneath. That means piggy pee will stay on top of the fleece, and nobody wants wet piggy bottoms!

Where to find fleece

  • Fleece can be found at fabric stores, craft stores, and home goods stores. Many of these places offer coupons or sales, which makes it an even better deal. You can look for fleece that comes pre-cut as a blanket, or ask for a swath of fabric to be cut.
  • Check Joann Fabric & Crafts stores, where fleece often goes on sale. You can also try Hancock Fabrics.


Types of fleece

  • Anti-pill fleece is the most ideal all purpose type. Fur and hay vacuums out easily, it is softer on piggy feet, and it doesn't pill up after usage so guinea pig nails don't get stuck. We use this type in our cage. 
  • Polar fleece is also suitable. The downside is that it tends to trap fur and hay, so cleaning is a little more difficult.
  • Heavy polar fleece is not recommended to be used as bedding. It is the most difficult to clean hay and fur from. Sherpa fleece, plush fleece and anything "winterized" are also not recommended to be used as bedding.
  • Fleece comes in many different colors and cute patterns so choosing one is the fun part! We have patterns with florals, autumn leaves, plaid, cupcakes, food, cherries, and even one with owls on it. There are also seasonal patterns for holidays. Solid colors also work well as they make poops easier to see when vacuuming.

Coppy napping in her holiday themed fleece bedding

Selection tips

  • Lighter colored fleece allows you to spot poops more easily, which is convenient for daily vacuuming. Its also easier to spot blood in your piggy's urine, which is one of the symptoms of an urinary tract infection (UTI).
  • Darker colored fleece allows you to monitor calcium output in your piggy's urine, as it will soak through and leave a white powdery residue behind on the top layer. This bladder sludge can lead to bladder stones.


Preparation

  1. Wash the fleece in warm or hot water. Dry after washing
  2. Repeat 3-5 times to break down the water barrier in new fleece fabric.
  3. DO NOT use any fabric softener or conditioner! This will replace the water barrier that you are trying to break down. 
  4. Check after drying to see if the fleece is ready by pouring a small amount of water on it. If it is ready the water will pass through the fleece. 

    If the water remains on the surface and does not sink through, return it to the washing machine for another cycle before checking again.
Water remains on the surface of fleece that is NOT ready to be used as bedding yet

Most cavies love fleece upon being introduced to it. Here's a short video clip of baby Peaches and Belka's first time on fleece bedding (they were about three months old at the time). Both were so excited, they began popcorning and squeaking immediately!



After your fleece is ready, you can start using it in your pigs cage! Remember to layer towels, furniture pads, or other absorbent materials underneath the fleece to soak up urine that passes through.

18 comments:

  1. Alternatively, a busy pattern helps hide poo and hay if you don't vacuum often.

    Any chance you have photos of the three types of fleece you've mentioned? I have heard of all of those types, but I'm not sure if I'd recognize them on sight.

    I love the video - it always makes me laugh when pigs nearly flip themselves when popcorning because they're just so excited!

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  2. Hi PaintedThread,

    We only have pictures of the anti-pill fleece we use above, but none of the other types since we don't use them. They're usually labeled at the fabric store or put in different displays from each other though so we never have problems telling them apart. Sorry!

    hehe, a popcorning pig is a happy pig! :)

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  3. I'm still researching stuff but the bedding that seems best price wise and ease of cleaning is fleece. I plan on using towels underneath.

    To mask any odors the towels can be soaked in a bucket of baking soda & water. Then just let the towels air dry and then you will have saturated dry baking soda towel for the absorbent under bedding.

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  4. I'm still researching stuff but the bedding that seems best price wise and ease of cleaning is fleece. I plan on using towels underneath.

    To mask any odors the towels can be soaked in a bucket of baking soda & water. Then just let the towels air dry and then you will have saturated dry baking soda towel for the absorbent under bedding.

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  5. Glacier fleece is one of the varieties that doesn't work as bedding - instead of allowing liquids to wick through, it traps them in the weave! Look for 100% polyester anti-pill fleece, which is the type best suited for piggy bedding.

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  6. I bought glacial fleece at Hancock. It was $3.83 a yard! Problem is, it won't wick at all I have washed it seven times hot water setting,no fabric softener, no dryer sheets. I decided to put it in their cage, and their bellies are wet and stinky. Oh man! I even soaked it in the bath tub with vinegar, and still no wicking. Any suggestions that might help me?

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  7. Most likely. I've also used homemade laundry detergent and noticed that the fleece stopped wicking after a few washes. After washing in store bought detergent it was able to wick moisture through again.

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  8. I bought 2 pieces of anti-pill fleece. I wash them in warm or hot water and do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets. After 10 washings they still will not wick away the water. I don't know what I am doing wrong. I use homemade laundry detergent. Could that be the issue?

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  9. I'd recommend fastening the fleece in place with binder clips or clothespins. I wrote an article with a few other solutions here:
    http://www.calicavycollective.com/2014/02/stop-guinea-pig-fleece-burrowing.html



    Hopefully one of those will work. Best of luck!

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  10. I have two guinea pigs and they are burrowing underneath the fleece and spilling their food and just messing up the cage ( I don't have a C & C cage ) any suggestions?

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  11. Do you double the layer of fleece in the cage?

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  12. One layer is usually more than enough. If anything, it's the layers of absorbent materials that you can double up on.


    If you're new to fleece, here's a guide that explains it all:
    http://www.calicavycollective.com/2014/03/guinea-pig-101-fleece-bedding-guide.html

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  13. So I've gotten my anti pill fleece, and I've been washing and drying it. On some parts of the fleece I've noticed the water (that I'm using to test it) will slip through the fleece, but the fleece still seems quite damp. Will this not be the situation in the cage with the absorbant material underneath or is the fleece not ready yet?

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  14. It's getting there, but isn't ready quite yet. Another wash cycle or two should do the trick.

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  15. I've washed it about 10 times total and that's still the situation right now. :/ would using more soap in the load make a difference? I have an oxi clean detergent, think it could be my soap? I'm thinking I'll use my washing machine cleanser and then try it again. Maybe there is a build up of other soaps/softeners in my machine interfering.

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  16. First, have you tried placing the fleece over an absorbent material (such as a towel) prior to pouring water on it? Sometimes even when fleece is ready to be used the water can sit there unless there is something underneath to "pull" it through.

    And you're right, the other issue may be the laundry detergent - it won't work with "alternative" detergents. Some detergents seem to work better than others. I use regular powdered Tide. Not sure how effective liquid detergents are. You might want to try another detergent.

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