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By Sky Zhu

August 9th, 2023

Sanitizing Small Pet Supplies

Just bought a new hamster hideout online? Getting a new pair of gerbils and want to reuse old supplies? Have a rodent with mites (oh no!)? This article is for you!

 

Learning how to safely sanitize supplies is a must for any rodent owner, especially because of most rodents' shorter lifespans. This becomes all the more important if the products have been sitting in storage for a long time since you have to remove all the dust and bacteria!

 

The method of sanitization largely depends on the type of product, so make sure you know the material. Most products are either plastic, glazed ceramic, unglazed ceramic, glass, fabric, or wood.

 

Now let’s go over how to clean each type!

 

For plastics:

Most plastic rodent products can easily be reused! Wash thoroughly with soap and water, making sure to get the soap into all the nooks and crannies, then rinse well and dry off with a towel. Food stains on plastic products sometimes take a little more scrubbing to get out and they can get scratched easily, so make sure to assess the condition of the item to see if it’s time to buy a new one.

 

For glazed ceramics and glass:

Glazed ceramic and glass accessories are the easiest to sanitize! Wash carefully with soap and water, then wipe dry. The hardest part will be making sure you don’t accidentally drop it! For hollow glazed ceramics decor that has a small hole on the bottom, we recommend soaking in soapy, warm water for a few minutes before rinsing to completely remove any stuck bits of bedding inside.

 

For unglazed ceramics:

Although these products are often able to be used for a long time, they’re definitely more tricky to clean. Since unglazed ceramics have porous surfaces, just washing alone won’t clean off everything. If it’s relatively clean, your best bet is submerging and soaking the item in a solution of hot water and soap and/or white vinegar, then soaking in just hot water and rinsing the soap or vinegar out. Then, place the item in a relatively sunny area inside for a few days so it dries naturally. However, if the item was used for food or as a hideout, the intensive cleaning needed to remove food or urine stains might not be worth the effort, in which case it would be best to replace the item and repurpose the old hideout for something else, possibly a plant pot, jewelry dish, or just some room decor. If you need to sanitize the item (if you have mites or other bugs), baking it with wooden items would be enough to kill parasites.

 

For wood:

Making up the vast majority of items in a natural cage setup, wood (including cork and bamboo) is surprisingly easy to clean in most cases with just an oven. For small items with stains, such as a clean hideout, bendy bridge, or tunnel, you can simply place it in the oven at 200ºF (93ºC) for 30-45 minutes to kill any bacteria or parasites. Don't worry, the temperature is low enough that the wood won't catch on fire. If the wood is completely soiled with pee, poop, or other substances, it's best to replace the item rather than attempt to clean it. For larger items like a cage that can’t fit in your oven, a natural sanitizing spray that’s safe for pets (we prefer either a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water or Nature’s Miracle Small Pet Cleaner) and a good wipe is a probably enough to clean sealed wood. If it’s unsealed, we would recommend a vinegar/water spray, but it would be difficult to remove a stain or sanitize any areas that are severely peed on.

 

For fabric:

This is easy! Just toss it in the washing machine and dryer on "gentle" or "delicates", or if you're up to it, you could even hand wash and hang dry.

 

For mites:

Washing plastic, glass, or glazed ceramic should get rid of the pests, same with baking for smaller wood or unglazed ceramic products. For cages made of sealed wood, a very careful cleaning with spray should be okay. However, for larger unsealed wooden items or any other porous items that can only be wiped and not baked, it’s best to replace the item entirely to ensure you don’t accidentally start a new infestation.

Note: Used bedding and forage/herbs should not be reused. Sprays should not be reused unless they are sanitized by baking in the oven and you are sure that the previous animal did not pass away with any infectious diseases.

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Further Reading

More resources on sanitizing supplies!

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