Skip to main content

PawTracks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Try these ingenious hacks to keep your rabbit cage from smelling horrendous

Owning a small pet will bring numerous joys to your life: snuggles, companionship, and endless funny videos for TikTok. But it also introduces some unpleasant factors, such as a smelly cage. Your new furry friend doesn’t have opposable thumbs, so it’s up to you to keep the place clean (though they’ll likely help you out). Rabbits, hamsters, and many other creatures do prefer to designate one space as their potty and rabbits can even be trained to use a litter box. Still, you need to put time and elbow grease into keeping his home clean in order to reduce the bunny stink. Here are the best ways to keep the cage-smell at bay.

Woman folds laundry while playing with pet rabbit
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to clean a rabbit cage

The first defense against smell is a sparkling clean cage. You should strive for a small cleaning every day so it doesn’t pile up and so your pet never has to live in squalor. As part of your feeding process, clean the food and water dishes and pull out any leftovers. While you’re at it, grab obviously dirty bits of hay or other bedding and replace them. Since you must attend to your rabbit every day anyway, you can make this part of a routine. However, once per week you need to take your cleaning a step further.

Pull everything out, including your rabbit! Use this as a chance to give him some extra playtime — in a separate area. If you have a bunny pen, you can set him down next to you while you work. Otherwise, assign another member of your household to rabbit duty.

Many cages come apart for easy cleaning and you’ll want to pull out every toy, bowl, and accessory during the process. When removing the accouterment from his cage, you should also discard old, soiled bedding and litter. The goal is to reach every nook and cranny of his home.

Scrub everything thoroughly. There are pet-friendly cleansers out there that help to combat the smell, especially urine, but warm water mixed with a splash of vinegar works too. The important part is to really scrub every corner, surface, and bar, top to bottom. This includes the litter box if you’re using one. The trick is to remove any leavings that stink up your house, and his. Wait for the cage to dry completely (wet hay will mold) then put everything back together. Add new material to the bottom and fresh litter to the litterbox, and voila! He’ll enjoy the house cleaning just as much as you do.

Bunny peeks out of his clean cage
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to keep a rabbit cage from smelling

While regular maintenance will keep most of the smell at bay, you may still get an unpleasant whiff now and then. There are a few more steps you can take to eliminate the odor as best you can, but remember that having an animal in the house means some amount of smell.

  • Improve ventilation. This one’s tricky because you don’t want heat or AC blowing on your rabbit constantly; he won’t like it and it might make him unable to control his body temperature. Putting him in a room with natural airflow will help because the smells won’t linger in dead air. Choose an appropriate spot before you even bring him home to nip this in the bud.
  • Change his diet. Rabbits need to eat tons of hay, some delicious greens, and commercial pellets. You may also opt for the occasional treat like a banana or carrot. If you find that his bowel movements are extra smelly or too loose, you may need to cut back on the snacks. Try to aim for a small amount of pellets and stick mostly with the super healthy (and fibrous) veggies. 
  • Go to the vet. Any sudden changes in your bunny’s eating habits can be cause for alarm. Rabbits have very sensitive tummies and these deviations may give you a clue that something else is going on. Take your cutie to the vet to find the root of the cause. Also, consider spaying/neutering your bun. An unaltered rabbit’s urine usually has a stronger smell than one that has had the procedure. In addition, male rabbits tend to scent mark when they’re ready to mate if they haven’t been neutered.

Keeping your rabbit from stinking up the place mostly means keeping his cage nice and clean, which is worth every ounce of work. Avoid any harsh chemicals both during the cleaning process and as air fresheners. Luckily, your cottontail will naturally want to live in an unsoiled environment. He’ll be working with you, not against you.

Editors' Recommendations

Rebekkah Adams
Rebekkah’s been a writer and editor for more than 10 years, both in print and digital. In addition to writing about pets…
Looking to add corydoras to your aquarium? Here’s what you need to know first
Read this before bringing home a cory catfish to add to your tank
Two cory catfish hang out on the bottom of the tank

One thing you might not know about aquariums until you get one: Every tank needs a janitor, which may wind up just being you. When you first dive into this hobby, it can take a while to realize how much maintenance is really involved — don't think that the filter will do all the work. But if you want a little a help in that department, you can add a catfish to the fray. If you don't have a ton of experience with these bottom feeders, we recommend one of the corydoras since they're generally best for beginners.

What are corydoras?
This is a type of catfish, but there are actually more than 170 species to choose from. These are a well-known group of swimmers who get their name from their barbels, which look a bit like whiskers. While you'll find dozens of options in the pet store, you will likely narrow it down quickly based on the size of your tank, temperature, habitat you've chosen, and the other fish that they'll live with eventually.
Are corydoras friendly?
Yes, corydoras are sweet and gentle fish. They particularly like spending time together, but get along with many others as well. In some cases, you should not buy just one as they'll get lonely. Instead grab a pair of the same type and watch them become best friends. You'll often see them as bottom feeders, well, at the base of the tank, but cory cats also come up to the surface for air or food from time to time.

Read more
Why do guinea pigs chatter their teeth? It’s not a good thing
Sounds guinea pigs make with their teeth and what each means
Guinea pig bares her teeth

Anyone who adopts a rodent should know they'll be overwhelmed by the teeth. Guinea pigs in particular have lots of dental needs and often use their chompers to communicate as well. Sadly, you won't see a happy piggy smile, so instead, you'll have to spend some time studying your piggy to decipher the mouth movements.

Oral health can also indicate bigger issues, which means you should keep a close eye on those pearly whites when you hear your pet grind, chatter, bare, or click them. So why do guinea pigs chatter their teeth? There are a few reasons, but none of them are particularly good.

Read more
Why is my hamster trying to escape? These are the 3 reasons
Hamsters are known for being little escape artists, but here's why
White hamster peeks out of his enclosure

Ever opened the door and had your dog or cat make a break for it? Even though they love us, lots of pets try to escape if given the chance. It's not a very well-thought-out plan though: They have no idea how good they have it in a temperature-controlled, safe, and cozy environment with unlimited access to good food. Yet somehow, they always seem to go for it when the opportunity presents itself.

Nearly all animals realize pretty quickly that they wish to return to their homes the second trouble presents itself. It's best, therefore, to prevent them from ever getting out in the first place. With that in mind, you might be wondering, why is my hamster trying to escape? Learning the reasons can help you prevent it from happening. 

Read more