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?

Bleach can be used to disinfect pet cages, but it cannot be used full strength and must be thoroughly rinsed before returning your pet to its habitat. A bleach solution can be made by mixing water and bleach together to get a 10 percent bleach solution.


Never use bleach to clean fish tanks, aquatic turtle tanks, amphibian tanks, or for any other animal that spends a lot of time in the water. 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. 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.

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

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 prefer to make their own cleaner with vinegar, baking soda, and lemons.

Environmental Concerns

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.