Skip to main content

How to properly clean your pet rabbit

Rabbits are interesting pets, but many proud rabbit owners are initially confused about their furry critter's grooming, bathing, and cleaning habits. These cuddly creatures display some strange behaviors, so naturally, their grooming methods are a little different than cats or dogs. We’ll dive into the details of how to properly clean your pet rabbit, from bathing his body and brushing his fur to keeping him spotless overall.

Related Videos




30 minutes

What You Need

  • Rabbit-safe pet shampoo

  • Small tub or area to bathe your rabbit

  • Washcloth

  • Cup for pouring water

  • Warm water

  • Cotton swab

  • Rabbit brush

  • Rabbit treats

  • Pet cleaning towelettes (optional)

  • Rabbit nail trimmer (optional)

  • Cornstarch baby powder (optional)

Brown rabbit held by owner

Do rabbits clean themselves?

Like feline pets, rabbits groom themselves with their tongues. First, they’ll lick their paws and use these spit-slick “brushes” to clean other body parts. This helps get rid of shedding fur, dirt, and other surface-level messes. Sounds inefficient? Don’t worry — rabbits have been using this method since the dawn of time, and frankly, it’s simple, but it works.

Moreover, rabbits clean themselves constantly. Like, all day constantly. Your rabbit can handle cleaning himself for the most part, unless he's not feeling well. In this case, a visit to the vet might be the answer — which brings us to our next point.

Is it safe to bathe my pet rabbit?

The short answer is no, it’s not safe to bathe your pet rabbit in a tub full of water. If your rabbit has stopped grooming themselves, don’t resort to a bubble bath, no matter how warm the water feels. In general, the risks that come with bathing a bunny far outweigh the possible benefits.

For instance, according to Rabbit Welfare UK, rabbits may feel unsafe and end up panicking in the water, which can result in several stressful injuries for you and your pet. Bathing-related stress has even been linked to the death of a few pets. Additionally, their fur is notoriously hard to dry, so your pet may be vulnerable to hypothermia or respiratory illnesses if left wet, or even damp.

Still, there are a few instances when your vet may recommend that you wash your rabbit — typically if your bunny has an especially dirty behind! Most likely, a spot wash is all you’ll need, though your vet can provide a prescription shampoo for particularly sensitive areas. Always ask your vet for a shampoo recommendation for your rabbit, as even other pet shampoos are not necessarily safe for your bunny (via

Spot cleaning your bunny: A safer option

Spot cleaning lets you clean your rabbit without exposing him to the dangers of a bath. When you do this, you’re cleaning only a specific part of his body, eliminating the risk of both hypothermia and shock-related symptoms.

Step 1: Sit your bunny in a small tub for washing, but remember to empty the water regularly, as rabbits may panic if sitting in too much water. This may also make his bum even harder to dry later, so think ahead before “bath” time. Perhaps you can use the bathtub to avoid this, or even improvise! Drilling a few holes into the bottom of that small plastic tub should allow enough drainage for your bunny to stay comfy.

Step 2: To spot clean your rabbit’s leg, for example, you could dunk just his leg into room-temperature water. For a messy bottom, a damp towel should do the trick.

Step 3: Once dunking your rabbit's leg into room-temperature water, rub in a rabbit-safe or vet-approved shampoo.

Step 4: Gently rinse the leg with the aid of a small dish (via Omlet). No running water, please! It could be too loud and powerful for a lot of rabbits.

Rabbit eating pellets

How do I get rid of my pet rabbit’s smell?

Here are a few steps to help you get rid of unwanted smells from your bunny.

Step 1: Apply cornstarch baby powder to your rabbit's fur.

Step 2: If the smell hasn’t gone away by applying baby cornstarch powder (scented or not), use some pet towelettes to refresh areas. Pet-safe towelettes prevent sensitivity to potentially harmful ingredients.

Step 3: If the smell isn’t letting up, you might need to clean his cage to remove any yucky odors that are sticking to your pet rabbit.

Step 4: Is a clean cage still not the answer? Your pet rabbit might need his scent glands cleaned. Two of these glands are located around his bottom and they release some undesirable odors when not properly discharged. Use a cotton swab dipped in warm water to clean the glands around your rabbit’s private area. The excretion is typically brown and easy to spot. This simple hygiene routine should significantly reduce any unpleasant smells.

How do I groom my pet rabbit?

The average pet rabbit molts two to three times a year. During this phase, they’ll shed tons of fur. In an attempt to speed up the process and to keep themselves clean, rabbits might groom themselves even more during this molting. Even on a regular day, your rabbit will lose significant amounts of hair.

Step 1: Brush the fur at least once a week even if your rabbit isn't molting. This helps prevent any dangerously large hairballs from forming in your pet's stomach, and it helps the molting process go more smoothly.

Step 2: On the other hand, long-haired rabbits need haircuts and trims to keep their beautiful coat healthy. Again, this also reduces hairballs in their stomachs.

How do I trim my pet rabbit’s nails?

Pet rabbits need nail trims to keep them from getting too long and hurting themselves, you, or other pets. Purchase a rabbit-specific nail trimmer for this task. Check your rabbit’s nails regularly and trim them about once a month or whenever necessary.

Declawing is not recommended for rabbits because they use their nails to move around properly. If you’re nervous about trimming your rabbit’s nails, ask a professional groomer or your vet to demonstrate it a few times until you feel comfortable. They’ll show you great tips like how to hold your pet correctly during the task.

Rabbit sitting in its cage

How else can I properly clean my pet rabbit and keep them that way?

Other body parts to keep clean are your rabbit’s ears, eyes, and teeth. Repeat these tasks regularly, and your pet rabbit should stay thoroughly clean.

Step 1: Use a cotton swab to wipe away ear wax and apply a gentle cleaner if necessary.

Step 2: For sleep in your rabbit’s eyes, use a cloth or tissue to wipe it away. Medicated drops might be necessary for some conditions, but always double-check with a vet.

Step 3: Give your rabbit enough treats, such as boards and twigs, to keep his teeth a healthy size. These chew toys wear down your pet’s teeth, which is super important since their teeth grow continuously!

Your pet rabbit is a delicate creature that needs your full care and attention. Luckily, we’ve reviewed some essential grooming routines on how to clean your rabbit, such as brushing his fur, giving him dry baths, and trimming his nails to keep your pet properly clean. One last thing we’ll repeat is to keep the cage and/or the sleeping area clean. Fresh, pellet-free bedding always makes for a cleaner, happier rabbit.

Editors' Recommendations

Best reptile pets: These are the 5 most affectionate reptiles you can welcome into your home
Looking for a reptile pet? These friendly kinds are worth a good look
Basking Chinese water dragon

Reptiles aren't often known for their cuddly nature, but there are certain types of reptiles that enjoy being handled. Whether you're looking for a new buddy for yourself or for your lizard-obsessed kid, there's a reptile pet out there. With proper socialization, these reptiles can learn to be handled daily, and some are even good choices for families with children. If you're looking for a new pet that enjoys human company, consider one of these most affectionate reptiles -- they're the best reptilian pets for handling.

Best reptile pets
Bearded dragon
Typically known for being friendly and even enjoying being handled, bearded dragons can become close companions with their humans. As they get to know you, they'll often learn to climb on your body and even ride around on your shoulders.

Read more
How to tell when a hamster is sick or in pain: Look for these 4 signs and symptoms
Signs your hamster needs a vet
Beige hamster stands on its back paws

Because they're a species so different from our own, it's not always possible to discern the signs of a sick hamster. They hide pain and distress rather well, though you'll be able to tell when something is off if you know what to look for. Some symptoms are more noticeable, especially if they come on quickly, but others might be nearly invisible. You may have to listen or even smell closely to pick up on something your hamster is trying to tell you, but you'll be glad you did.

Remember that "normal" is different for every pet, and your vet will always be your best resource to diagnose your hamster's illness. However, these are four common ways hamsters show you they're sick or in pain. So keep a look out!

Read more
A simple guide to what to feed tadpoles in your aquarium
A list of everything you should and shouldn't give baby frogs
Small child looks into a jar of tadpoles

Whether you’re taking in rescue tadpoles or planning to keep frogs as pets, you’ll have to adapt continually to their changing bodies. These amphibians undergo a metamorphosis and live as tadpoles for up to 14 weeks, though the last stage of the transition happens in just 24 hours. You’ll put them to bed as a kid and come back to a teenager. Tadpoles are vegetarians, but frogs are carnivorous, so you should prepare for their diet to evolve as they do over the course of a few months.

How to care for tadpoles
Right off the bat, you need to make a couple of big decisions. Are you rescuing and releasing? Will your tadpoles live outdoors in a pond? Or do you intend to keep your animals when they become frogs?

Read more