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Old 06-22-2017, 04:13 AM   #1
EJoy123
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Default How often to clean out?

I have owned 3 hamsters and am looking to get another one after the summer. It will be living in the ikea detolf cage which is 163x40cm. Would be spot cleaning every day/every few days, and probably do a full clean out every month.
But I've been wondering lately wether it's actually ok to do a full clean even less often than that. Surly if you're spot cleaning well, then removing all the sawdust every month is like us regularly changing our carpets?
Any opinions?
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Old 06-22-2017, 04:28 AM   #2
AmityvilleHams
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Default Re: How often to clean out?

I'd definitely use Fitch rather than wood substrate.There are so many reasons why it's better,like being more suitable to burrowing without anything needing to get added plus it cannot cause an allergic reaction(surprisingly common!)and is not an injury risk either as wood can be.

As for how often to do full cleans,you shouldn't ever have to It might sound crazy,but the only good reason for fully cleaning out substrate at once is if a hamster gets seriously ill or passes away and the cage needs to be sterilized before being used for another hamster.Just make sure the cleaning supplies used are all natural and entirely hamster safe,for example in those extreme cases such as illness a high quality enzyme based cleaner(no harmful additives of course,more on that in a moment)or in other situations a simple vinegar and water solution.In the every day scenarios however,simply removing substrate is more than enough.

Keep in mind harmful substances can be found in many products,whether it be cleaning products or treats or even food.These would be unspecified biproducts(such as digest,derivatives,meat and bone meal of any sort,biproduct meal,animal liver or generalized liver,animal fat,or any other unspecified or generalized ingredient),artificial flavors,artificial dyes(sometimes referred to as "E&C approved" in the UK,but either way these are not good to have in any product),artificial sweeteners or processed sugars(such as dextrose,maltodextrin,sorbitol,fructose,sucrose,et c),sulfur dioxide,unspecified preservatives or BHA/BHT/ethoxyquin(labelled "E&C approved antioxidants" and similar things in the UK,but no matter what these are not safe as they are known to cause cancer among other things),and propylene glycol.Of course,anything to be shared with dogs or cats must not have any corn or wheat(safe for hamsters,terrible for the mentioned animals!).Nothing should ever be made in China or irradiated either,regardless of species.
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Old 06-22-2017, 04:44 AM   #3
cypher
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Default Re: How often to clean out?

It really isn't necessary to do full cleans at all but you will need to do partial clean outs from time to time, a lot will depend on the hamster & how much it uses all the substrate by digging & burrowing, I keep dwarf hams which tend to burrow a lot so there are areas where a lot of food debris, dried poo & other bits & pieces tend to work down to the bottom of the cage & that does need cleaning out from time to time.
I generally just do about a third of the cage at any one time & always replace some of the old nest material or food hoard if I'm doing those areas.
I don't have a set schedule as it all depends on the individual & what they've been up to! I usually clean houses out every few weeks but always keep some of the old substrate & nest.
If you have a syrian that doesn't dig or burrow very much you may find you only need to clean the top layer & needn't worry about the rest too much.
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Old 06-22-2017, 06:05 AM   #4
Crystalroborovski
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Default Re: How often to clean out?

I'll have to agree with Amity and Cypher, a full cleanout once a month is not necessary and would do more harm than good due to the fact that you would be taking away most of their scent which is on the substrate. I have two robos who live in separate cages. One of them pees in his burrow area and in his wheel. I wipe down the wheel with a damp cloth at least once a week and spot clean a section of the burrow area (about 1/4 of the substrate) every week, sometimes less. My other hamster also pees in a corner/along the side of his burrow area so I spot clean that every 1-2 weeks.
Also, as amity said, I too would opt for fitch or a paper based substrate. I was going to use aspen in one of my ham cages but I didn't want to spend my money on it if he ended up developing an allergy to it.
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Old 06-22-2017, 06:36 AM   #5
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Default Re: How often to clean out?

With something the size of a detolf you will have a lot of substrate so I agree you would rarely need to do a full clean. Spot cleaning as and when necessary I would say (maybe once a week or just go by whether it's whiffy!) and a partial clean maybe every 3 months or just as and when. For a partial clean I tend to just replace the top half of the substrate plus a bit of spot cleaning if any lower half is soiled. So I take the top half out in one bag, the bottom half out in another bag, wipe the cage base with a damp cloth, let it dry, replace the bottom half and add some new and mix it all in.

Having said that - it may well depend on how deep the substrate is. If it's only 2 or 3 inches deep the bottom of the cage could get pee'd on and need wiping more regularly, and more regular spot cleaning. If the substrate is 6" or more then you should rarely need to do a full clean.

Keep an eye on any fresh food that might be hoarded every few days maybe, but I find our hammy doesn't hoard fresh food - he eats any veg straight away. Dry hoarded food is fine left for really quite a long time, as long as it isn't pee'd on. If you have to remove any hoard though (eg if pee'd on) then always replace it with new dry food in the same place. If they think someone has pinched their hoard they can start peeing on it which becomes an itch scratch cycle!

I tend not to remove the nest as well unless it's pee'd in. There's no need to use disinfectant when cleaning the cage, unless there has been illness or disease, but if you do use one, then make sure it's a hamster/petsafe one like the Johnsons one, and let it air well so the scent is dispersed before putting your hammy back. They have a very strong sense of smell and scents can bother them.

With something like a detolf, it can be nice to have different textures - eg areas of different types of substrate - but it's also absolutely fine just to use one type. If it's pine shavings, just check the packet says they are dust extracted and kiln dried.

Fitch, mentioned above, is dust free and can work out quite economical as you buy it in bulk. It's recycled food grade paper.
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Old 06-22-2017, 05:03 PM   #6
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Default Re: How often to clean out?

Generalized pet safe disinfectants aren't always a good idea.A natural cleaner is much better,especially enzymatic cleaners which are surprisingly strong despite being harmless to humans and pets(as long as you get a high quality one with nothing unsafe,or try making your own!).
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Old 06-23-2017, 02:41 AM   #7
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Default Re: How often to clean out?

I tend to just wipe with a warm damp cloth or use washing up liquid soapy water but that would take some rinsing off in a detolf A warm damp cloth is fine If there are some smelly bits you could use a bit of washing up liquid on that little bit.
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Old 06-26-2017, 01:18 PM   #8
EJoy123
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Default Re: How often to clean out?

Thank you so much for all your replies. Just wondering where I could get ahold of/how to make an enzymatic cleaner?
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Old 06-26-2017, 01:30 PM   #9
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Default Re: How often to clean out?

It should be easy to find some sort of recipe with a quick search for a DIY enzymatic cleaner,just be sure to use only hamster safe ingredients
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Old 06-26-2017, 10:40 PM   #10
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Default Re: How often to clean out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by EJoy123 View Post
Thank you so much for all your replies. Just wondering where I could get ahold of/how to make an enzymatic cleaner?
I wouldn't worry about it! Most of the time you won't need a cleaner at all anyway & if you do the main thing is to rinse well after so you can use ordinary washing up detergent or a pet safe disinfectant (there are several reliable & safe ones out there!) not sure where you are but I use unscented Safe4 if I ever need to disinfect or just thoroughly clean something, have done for years & it's effective & totally safe, there are a few others that some members use but can't remember the names off hand.
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