Can You Use Bleach to Clean Cages?

Tiny gray hamster
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Every household probably has a bottle or two of bleach that is used for laundry and cleaning, but is using bleach to clean cages safe? Will residual fumes harm your pet? Can you use bleach full strength?

You can use bleach to clean and disinfect your pet's cage, but it cannot be used full strength and it needs to be rinsed off thoroughly before putting your pet back in. A bleach solution can be made by mixing water and bleach together to get a 10% bleach solution.

This can be easily accomplished by mixing one cup of bleach with 9 cups of water. You can bottle the remaining solution up to use the next time you need to clean or make a smaller batch.

Bleach to Water Ratios

  • 1 cup Bleach to 9 cups Water
  • 1/2 cup Bleach to 4 1/2 cups Water
  • 1/4 cup Bleach to 2 1/4 cups Water

Be Careful

Make sure you keep your pet away from the cage while you are cleaning it and protect anything you don't want bleached, such as clothing, carpeting, tablecloths, and furniture. As previously stated, rinse off the bleach solution with water only and don't mix it with other formulated cleaners. Chemical reactions can occur if commercial cleaners like toilet bowl cleaners, or anything with ammonia in it. Dish soap (not dishwasher detergent) such as Dawn is safe to mix with bleach and will give you some soapy suds if you prefer to have a bubbly solution.

Do not use bleach to clean fish tanks, aquatic turtle tanks, amphibian tanks, or for any other animal that spends a lot of time in water.

Commercial Cleaners

There are also commercial cleaners available that are safe to use on pet cages. Some of these cleaners are marketed as eco-friendly, green cleaners, or environmentally safe. They are often a green color and come in easy to use spray bottles that can be refilled. Safe brands include Simple Green, Simple.Clean.Pure., Earth Friendly Products, Seventh Generation, Soyscrub, Method, Healthy Habitat, Nature's Miracle, and Green Works.

There are of course many more options available. Just look for plant-based cleaners and stay away from anything with tea tree oil as it is toxic to birds and cats. Many people even like making their own cleaner with vinegar, baking soda, and lemons.

What cleaner is the best?

Depending on what material you are cleaning the best cleaner for you will vary. Some people like a foamy cleaner, others just want waste matter to rinse right off without scrubbing. Stains are removed better with certain cleaners and dried on matter with others. You may just have to try a few and find out which one you like best. If all else fails, soaking dried-on matter in whatever cleaner you choose usually works. All-purpose cleaners are typically better for cage cleaning than carpet cleaners and other specific cleaners but you may get lucky and find a green cleaner that works great for something other than it advertises.

What makes certain cleaners safe?

Certain ingredients in many cleaners are harmful to the environment and animals, especially very sensitive animals like birds and fish. Ammonia, 2-butoxyethanol/Ethylene glycol butyl ether, ethoxylated nonylphenols (NPEs), silica, toluene, trisodium nitrilotriacetate (NTA), xylene, and phosphates are just a sampling of dangerous ingredients commonly found in cleaners.

Just read the label on the back of your cleaners to see what you're really using to get things "clean." Make sure to play it safe with your exotic pet. It's not worth taking any chances just to get a clean cage. When in doubt dish soap and water work well.