Your rat's cage serves as a boudoir, a dining room, a playground and a bathroom. Keeping the cage from stinking takes a lot of work, even if your rat is trained to potty in the corner. Diligent maintenance is the only way to keep a rat cage from stinking. Ensuring the cage is clean enough that you can't smell it is worth the effort; your rat will be healthier and happier because of it.
Clean your rat's cage at least weekly to keep it from stinking. If you have multiple rats, you may need to clean the cage, or at least make a partial bedding change, more often.
Relocate your rat to a safe place while you clean her cage. You can purchase plastic, temporary cages for a few dollars at most pet stores, or you can drop your stinky friend into a glass aquarium with a few toys while you do the job. Just make sure she cannot get out.
Remove food bowls, toys, water feeders and other accessories from the cage, and then wash them with a mild dish soap and warm water. Rinse them very well to remove all trace of soap residue, and then set them onto an absorbent towel to dry.
Scoop out the bedding, uneaten food and other contents into a plastic trash bag. Use a plastic cup or wear rubber gloves if using your hands. If the top of your cage is removable, it's probably easiest to take it off the base before doing this. Otherwise, just use the largest door on the cage.
Rinse out the inside of the cage with clean water once you've removed all pieces of bedding and food. This is easiest done outside with a hose, but you can always wash the cage in a bathtub or utility sink.
Add a little dish soap to a cleaning brush and scrub the bars and floor of the cage. Look for heavily soiled areas, such as the corner your rat uses as her bathroom, and focus on these areas to make the cage less stinky. Rinse the cage very well when you are done.
Spray all surfaces of the cage and toys with white vinegar in a spray bottle. Allow the vinegar to set for several minutes, and then rinse everything again. This will help sanitize the cage and remove odors.
Allow your cage to dry, preferably in the sun, for at least 30 minutes. Do not replace the bedding, toys or other items until the cage is completely dry.
- Encourage your rat to use a single corner of her cage for going potty. This way, you can replace the bedding in that specific corner every day to cut down on cage odor.
Sandra Ketcham has nearly two decades of experience writing and editing for major websites and magazines. Her work appears in numerous web and print publications, including "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "The Tampa Bay Times," Visit Florida, "USA Today," AOL's Gadling and "Kraze Magazine."