I'm a bit of a self-styled expert on fleece. I've tested out multiple methods as well as a few types of fleece. My question is exactly where it the odor coming from? If it's from the fleece then simply drop in a bit of chlorine bleach into the water before you wash it. Fleece actually works better if there are no perfumes of any kind, and most especially NO softening agents of any kind. No dryer sheets or liquid softeners. The glue that adheres itself to the fabric to make it feel softer actually also adheres the bacteria and odors along with it. In addition, it completely defeats the purpose by removing it's absorbency
Fleece washed in the following method has no smell whatsoever. It needs to be washed in hot water. Personally, I try to use the "free" types of laundry soap. It worries me to think of using perfumed products for the purpose of fleece bedding. To me the fragrance and other additives seem like they would agitate the skin and sinus of piggies living on it 24/7.
Fleece needs to be washed with a small amount (about 1/2 cup) of chlorine bleach, such as Clorox. This is for all colored fleece. Fleece does not fade with bleach as long as it is placed into the water before the fleece. I have a tie-dye piece for a year and its been bleached every time and still looks bright. Using non-chlorine bleach will not kill the bacteria.
The bleach helps to kill any bacterial build-up as well helps a bit on detergent build-up. It's important not to use too much though, as bleach on the fabric of clothing for even humans can cause serious chaffing. If one chooses to use more bleach, I would recommend strongly to do an extra rinse cycle.
Finishing with a small amount of vinegar in the rinse cycle (about 1/2 cup) will finish cutting detergent build-up, reduce static and fluff up the fleece like new.
Personally, I don't like using towels under the fleece really. I do urge you to bleach out the towels if you are going to use them. The bacterial build-up would be immense because they are going to absorb the urine, but never dry out.
My own favorite is to use polyester quilt batting or hospital pads like these: http://stores.ebay.com/petnvet
I lay down a super thick layer of packaged polyester quilt batting (about 2-4 inches) and put the fleece on top.
The urine gets dispensed quickly throughout it and it's basically never wet. My pigs use the area that has this thick batting as their "resting place". I do this on my upper level and it took a month before it finally started to have any kind of smell and I decided to remove it to wash it. (I simply changed the fleece weekly) The batting is cleaned by laying it in the bathtub in hot water and bleach. I soak it for an hour and then just drain it out and lay it on the patio to dry the rest of the way. Plain quilt batting would never take a washing machine or dryer (except a spin dry in the washer) and it would bunch up and be ruined. That's why I wash it somewhat delicately. Since it's only to remove the urine there isn't a need to agitate it in the washer anyway.
On my lower level, I actually sewed up a comforter using fleece. I love it. I have no odor, and it's super easy to change, and to wash.
Hope that helps those of you with odor problems. I say don't be afraid to try different things for the absorbency level, and also to test out different fleece types. For example, I've even found that simply using a quadruple thickness of fleece can make a big difference in keeping things "high and dry".
Some people are averse to using chlorine bleach and prefer using "Oxiclean". I'm sure it works as well, since I love Oxiclean myself for cutting odors out of my kitchen handtowels. Soaking in it makes a huge diffference.
I am new to using fleece bedding. I have a large 2 x 5 C&C cage for 2 little girls who both tend to pee where she rest--pigloo, box, etc., and so sits in it. They have long hair (which I do trim) which is frequently wet, which concerns me. I have been using disposable hospital-type pads under the fleece with a double to triple layer of fleece over the pads. I really do like using fleece and would appreciate any advice on how to ensure quick and efficient wicking of urine through the fleece to keep my little girls clean and healthy. Would spot areas of CareFresh under the fleece, on top of the hospital pads, help? I have been washing the fleece in "Free" laundry detergent (i.e. no perfumes, etc.) though I have been using a 1/3 piece of dryer sheet in dryer to stop the static.
Any help appreciated,
Not all fleece is created equal. What kind do you have?
If it is just odor in the air a cup of apple vinegar sitting out will remove all the odor . I even use this in my bathrooms behind the toilets to eliminate the pee smell that comes with having boys that don't aim so well. It doesn't mask the smell it absorbs the smell.
Part of the problem could be the amount of fleece you're using. When I used fleece, I never used more than a single layer. Under that was a layer of towels followed by a layer of puppy pads. The dryer sheet is also keeping the fleece from wicking as well. If you have a compartment for liquid fabric softener in your washer, you might want to put in some white vinegar.
Yes, I agree you're using too much fleece and not enough absorbent material. You want the pee to be able to quickly wick through the fleece and onto the towels underneath. I found some big, thick, nice towels at Kmart for really cheap that have been the best for my cage so far. I have 1 layer of fleece, 2 layers of towels, and 1 waterproof crib pad. It also helps a lot for a pig who pees in pigloos and such to have a small bed underneath that you can change daily. My beds are a cheap flannel baby blanket folded underneath a cheap fleece baby blanket. I change those daily. You could use old hand towels instead of flannel if you wanted, or the irregular microfiber towels from the auto section of Walmart. Anything absorbent really.
If you've been using dryer sheets you need to wash all your pig stuff on HOT water with a little detergent and maybe some bleach to get that residue off. It may take 2-5 washes before it's all out. The vinegar will do a much better job of softening the laundry than you expect. I was quite surprised!
Should the towels be cut to fit perfectly in the cage or can they be folded over so that they are thicker. I just changed over from carefresh to fleece with the towels underneath and it seems uneven. I did'nt know if it mattered. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. This is my first time around with the fleece!
I fold my towels underneath the fleece, so they fit the cage. It may end up slightly "bumpy" under the fleece, but it is soft and cozy, and the pigs do not mind.
The thicker your towel layer is, the more absorbent it will be.
VP - don't you then just end up with the strong smell of vinegar in that room? I love vinegar in food, but whenever I clean the cage with the vinegar solution it gets to be pretty pungent in the room.
"I fold my towels underneath the fleece, so they fit the cage. It may end up slightly "bumpy" under the fleece, but it is soft and cozy, and the pigs do not mind. "
That's what I do, too. It's like they're walking on fluffy clouds. Heaven forbid that their little starfish feet should have to touch anything not cushioned and comfy. They really do act like I'm torturing them if I dare put them on the uncarpeted floor for playtime.
I have 2 boys in a 2x4 cage, pick up poops daily but only change the fleece once every 5-7 days.
I use 2 layers of fleece on top of the hospital/incontinence pads. I found them on EBAY and they are a breeze to use.
I also want to add that I notice my boys cage will smell horrible the day after feeding them parsley...
I clean a lot with vinegar so I think I am immune to the smell. LOL
The smell goes away after you wipe it off and the surface dries. It doesn't linger in laundry when you use it to soften either.
Vinegar worked so well on the pigs' laundry that I tried it on my son's football clothes (which smell to high heaven). It worked beautifully for those, too. And he didn't smell like a salad at all.
My Mum and I (when I lived there) have been using Vinegar on my brothers rugby clothes for years, its so good at getting rid of that nasty stale sweat smell!
I think the people at my local Tesco think I am crazy as I will go in and bulk buy huge bottles of the White vinegar. I use it for alsorts of cleaning stuff!
Can I ask for those of you who wash your fleece with the washing machine - what do you do about any of the pigs hair which is on it? Is it safe to put these in the washing machine even with hair on them? Surely it would damage it after a while?
From what I can tell, vinegar works wonders. My fancy shmancy LG washing machine also has a "Sanitize" function that involves hot water and a very long cycle. My fleeces never smell coming out of the wash.
"Can I ask for those of you who wash your fleece with the washing machine - what do you do about any of the pigs hair which is on it?"
One of my girls has long-hair. I shake out the fleece first and then brush off as much hair as I can before it goes into the washing machine. I also wash the fleece frequently.
I vacuum, brush, and shake as much hair off as I can. Beyond that, I don't know what else you can do.
It usually comes off in the dryer for me.