How To Clean Cages The Right Way - RatCentral

How To Clean Cages The Right Way

how to clean a rat cage safely

Image credit: flickr under the following attribution license.

Keeping your rat cages clean is vital for the health and well-being of your rats. With so many people wondering how to best clean a rat cage we thought we’d give you our own personal cage cleaning method.

Most rat owners clean their cages slightly differently, but this is the most efficient and rat-safe method that we’ve used and have been developing for the last few years based off of hours of research into products, allergens, pollutants and ingredients that rats can react badly to.‚Äč

What You Should Use:

The links on these items will take you to the brands we personally use, however you can swap most of these products for what’s easily available to you.

We recommend that you switch to using these kinds of products, especially when it comes to using cat litter that is dust free, as regular dusty cat litter can cause respiratory illnesses in rats.

What You Shouldn't Use:

  • Undiluted Bleach
  • Air Freshener
  • General Disinfectant Spray
  • Regular Dusty Cat Litter
  • Sawdust, Cedar Shavings & Straw / Hay
wood shavings in rat cages is not recommended

Wood shavings & Sawdust are not ideal for rats.

Many of these products aren’t suitable for cleaning rat cages due to ingredients and the difficulties of removing all residue from things like bleach.

We don’t recommend that you use these products when cleaning your rat cage as there are safer alternatives available. While many use a diluted bleach solution we don’t believe that this is any better than using a rat-friendly disinfectant spray coupled with hot water during deep cleans.

Additionally using things like sawdust, cedar shavings, straw and hay for bedding or as cage covering are not recommended due to respiratory concerns and the potential contamination of chainsaw fuel in sawdust and shavings, and the common problem of having mites living in straw and hay.

Related: Best Bedding For Rats.

How To Clean Your Rat Cage The Right Way:

rat cage cleaning complete

Cleaning your rat cage should be something that you schedule and break down into three simple steps.

We recommend a daily, weekly and monthly process, however the frequency will depend totally upon how many rats you have, the size of your cage and the material of your cage.

Some materials are much harder to clean than others and the cage can only be as clean as the cage allows.

To see the best rat cages we recommend you check out our review here.


Depending on how many rats you have you may need to perform daily spot checks. We currently have 3 boys and we still find this a necessary step so we highly recommend it.

  • Spot check for excess poos or empty litter tray.
  • Remove and replace any sodden floor covering.
  • Replace water.
  • Replace and remove any spilled food.
  • Give the cage a quick wipe over with baby wipes or a white vinegar water solution.


Once per week you need to give the cage a more thorough clean regardless of how many rats you have…

This includes things like replacing all the floor covering, washing any fleece liners you may use instead of floor covering (ideally twice per week) and wiping over cage accessories and food / water containers.

A weekly clean requires that you change everything in the cage and clean it well.

Floor covering and bedding will be fairly sodden after a week, even when really absorbent which means the cage will have higher amounts of ammonia present which is bad for rats respiratory systems.

  • Remove everything from the cage and give it a wipe over with baby wipes.
  • Dry off the cage to ensure any residue from cleaning products is completely removed.
  • Wipe off accessories outside of the cage with anti-bac spray and rinse thoroughly in hot water before drying off completely.
  • Put everything back into the cage, and add fresh bedding, litter and cage floor covering.


how to deep clean a rat cage

One of our rat cages being re-assembled after deep clean.

Once a month we completely dismantle our cage (you might have to do this weekly depending on your cage) and give it a deep clean.

A deep clean involves all the same steps as a weekly clean except we ensure that all germs and bacteria are completely eradicated.

After dismantling the cage we recommend taking it into your bath or shower and spraying it thoroughly with your anti-bacterial spray, scrubbing the cage with an abrasive sponge and then rinsing well on your hottest setting until any residue or remaining anti-bac spray is no longer present. Be very careful of not getting burned during this process!

Repeat this process for cage accessories, the food bowl and water container.

We recommend letting everything dry by itself for a while as you wipe down the cage bars with a white vinegar solution and baby wipes before ensuring all residue is removed. We prefer to use a gentler approach with the cage bars unless they are very mucky as it’s harder to ensure all residue is removed.

  • Remove all bedding, litter, accessories, cage covering and food / water containers.
  • Dismantle the cage.
  • Disinfect, scrub & rinse cage floors and levels in the shower or bath.
  • Repeat the process for accessories & food / water containers.
  • Wipe bars over with a white vinegar solution and baby wipes, wipe off remaining residue thoroughly.
  • Re-assemble cage and add fresh bedding, litter & cage covering.
  • Add a few poos to the rats litter tray inside the cage to prevent excessive marking after a deep clean, which can make the cage very smelly!


Keeping your cage clean is important for so many reasons and how you clean a rat cage is equally important.

It is vital to find a method that is the most rat-friendly, where the ingredients in the products you use are as gentle as possible while still cleaning the cage thoroughly, minimizing any pollutants that get re-introduced to the cage that could make your rats sick.

If you enjoyed the article or have any questions then please feel free to let us know in the comments or contact us if you prefer!

We hope that you found this article informative and useful.

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(Last Updated On: April 27, 2020)

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