Guinea pigs are wonderful creatures. With their button eyes, cute nose, and lovely personality, they will surely capture your heart! But, as adorable as they may be, they can be quite messy.
Bedding cost gets expensive in the long run, but they are part of the basic supplies needed for keeping guinea pigs. That is why a lot of people opt for washable cage liners made of fleece or similar materials, that are easy to clean and maintain. Cage liners are also relatively comfier than your usual paper/wood shavings, and on the long term they are significantly cheaper too.
It is also an environmental-friendly solution, as it reduces waste. And this is actually the part I love the most: If you have pieces of cloth or blankets that you aren’t using anymore, you can make the liner yourself!
If you’re like me who loves to craft and save your precious hard-earned money, while still giving your fur babies the best of the best, then this project is for you! Nothing says love more than effort, don’t you agree?
In this article, I will walk you through the basics of how to make a washable guinea pig cage liner from scratch. You can use old blankets and other fabrics, and upcycle them into a new and usable cage liner, or buy the materials for a cheap price on Amazon or at your local department store.
Crafting supplies and materials
Here’s an overview of all you need to get started:
Fleece is the perfect fabric for this project since it has good wicking properties. Well, old fleece that is. So take out those fleece blankets that are stuck in your cabinets for quite a while.
New fleece works, too. It just needs to be prepped before sewing it with the rest. With prep, I mean washing it several times with unscented detergent. Warm water works well, too. Others add vinegar to the wash for a faster process.
Do take note that your fleece would sit on the top layer of your cage liner. So pick a design that you’d like or your guinea baby would love.
This is where you can add your personal touch to the cage liner, by choosing the color or pattern you like!
2. Absorbent cloth
Here’s where your old towels come in. It will serve as the middle layer of the cage liner that absorbs the spilled water and guinea pig pee.
If you have a little bit more in the budget, you can buy absorbent fabric on Amazon or in your local department store.
3. Waterproof fabric (optional)
Most DIY cage liners use fleece fabric as their top and bottom layer. But, swapping out the bottom fleece for a waterproof fabric proves to be extra useful as it locks in the wetness inside the liner.
This keeps the bottom of the cage clean. Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) fabric, utilized as diaper covers, can be used as it is washable in hot water settings. Other waterproof fabrics include shower curtains, canvas, or a mattress protector.
You can use a regular fleece fabric if you don’t want a waterproof fabric at the bottom of your guinea pig’s cage liner. Since new fleece does not have wicking properties just yet, it would work well on keeping in the liquids. However, you should always have a waterproof base in their cage, so nothing will leak through and ruin the floor/furniture it sits on.
4. Sewing machine (optional)
Any sewing machine will do for this project! If you don’t have any sewing machine around, you can do it by hand. It will take a little bit longer and gets tedious, but it works well, too. Show off your hand sewing skills!
5. Basic sewing supplies
This would include your scissors, needles, pins, thread, a marker, and a ruler or measuring tape. You might want a comfy couch, too, if you’re sewing it by hand.
Steps in making the perfect cage liner for your guinea pigs
Here are the steps you need to take, in order to craft a beautiful cage liner for your guinea pigs:
1. Measure the cage
Do you agree that the first step is the most important step of all? No? Just me?
In this project, the first step is the most important. Your cage liner should fit your cage perfectly. If the liner is too big, the edges will curl upward and gives your pet a hiding place and probably a secret place to do their business. The same goes for a linear that’s too small.
The best thing to do is to measure the length and width of the cage and add half an inch per side of your linear. This extra half-inch would be for the seam.
2. Mark your fleece (and other fabrics too)
Now that you have your measurements, it’s time to take out your markers and mark your fabrics. For the fleece, make sure that you make a straight line to avoid distorted fabric cuts. For the absorbent layer, if you are using old towels or absorbent fabrics that are too small, you can sew them together to make up for the total measurement (do remember the extra allowance for the seam).
Mark also half an inch from the sides per side on the fabrics. It will make it easier later on as you sew the pieces of fabric together.
3. Cut it all out
After practicing drawing straight lines on the fabric, you now have to practice cutting it straight! Just kidding. But, for the fleece, it isn’t. Fleece, as mentioned, tend to distort due to its stretchy nature. So it is better to cut it along the straight line you have marked on it.
4. Assemble the fabrics in the right order
By now you have three fabrics for the three layers that you’ll be sewing later on.
This is a tricky part, because you would think that you’d just layer it according to how I describe the fabrics earlier. Nope. That is not how it would go.
So, here is how the layering should be:
The top fabric (which is your prepped fleece) should be placed right-side-up; then, the next layer would be your bottom fabric placed right-side down; and, lastly, the absorbent fabric (which is your PUL fabric or the un-prepped fleece) is placed on top. Pin the fabrics together, afterwards.
5. Sew it together
This step is easiest when you have a sewing machine. But, if you don’t have one, your hands, patience, and dedication will do.
Here’s a neat little video, that takes you through the process of sewing your fabrics together:
Here’s another video showing a different kind of decorative hand sewing technique.
On the half-inch mark, sew the fabrics together. But, on the last side of the liner, leave an opening. This allows you to flip it inside out. Now, you have the layers in the correct order! Hand-sew the remaining area and you, now, have your DIY washable cage liner!
It is recommended to at least have two cage liners so you have an extra one to swap out when you need to throw the other in the laundry. Wishing you all the luck in your DIY adventure!
Prepare the cage liners
Wicking the cage liners ensures that they get the right absorbent capabilities that you need and want for your guinea pigs to stay comfortable.
If you wonder how to wick fleece and other materials, we’ve made a guide that takes you through the steps: How to Wick Fleece.
Basically this process involves washing with hot water and some laundry detergent, which then breaks down the fibers and gives the fleece fabric better absorbent properties.
Thanks to these resources: