The Best Bedding For Guinea Pigs

Written by Judie Sigdel
Updated: January 19, 2023
© Kelly L Bailey/Shutterstock.com

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Best forProduct
Best OverallCarefresh Small Animal Bedding
Best BargainKaytee Clean & Cozy Natural Small Animal Bedding
Best Aspen Wood Shavings BeddingSMALL PET SELECT Small Pet Aspen Bedding
Best Fleece BeddingGuineaDad Liner

Key Points:

  • The #1 Overal Best bedding for guinea pigs is the Carefresh 99% Dust Free Natural Paper Small Pet with Odor Control.
  • Guinea pig bedding is an essential item for any guinea pig living environment. Guinea pigs need bedding to provide insulation and extra cushioning, so they can stay comfortable in their cages, as well as prevent bacteria growth. Moreover, the quality of the bedding needs to be taken into consideration when selecting a variety, as it will impact the health of your pet guinea pig.
  • There are many options for guinea pig bedding. We’ve curated the best types of guinea pig bedding for you based on criteria such as price, material, quality, absorption, safety, and durability.

In the not-too-distant past, cedar and pine shavings were among the most commonly used guinea pig beddings. People used them because these pleasant-smelling woods masked the odor of guinea pig urine. Unfortunately, it turns out that both cedar and pine shavings release aromatic hydrocarbons (phenols) that can lead to serious respiratory and skin conditions, which means that you should not use them for your guinea pig! And for a variety of reasons, informed pet parents don’t use corncobs, cat litter, and straw for piggy bedding either.

So, what is a responsible guinea pig parent supposed to use for bedding?

Today, there are three safe options: a fluffy paper-like material made out of reclaimed paper fibers, Aspen wood shavings, and fleece. Each of these types of bedding has its own advantages and disadvantages. We’ve rounded up and reviewed the top products in each of these categories to help you choose the best bedding for your guinea pigs.

  1. Carefresh Small Animal Bedding
    • Made from reclaimed paper fiber
    • Biodegradable and compostable
    • Actively suppress ammonia odor
    • Very absorbent
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  2. Kaytee Clean & Cozy Natural Small Animal Bedding
    • Absorbs urine into the product
    • 99% dust-free
    • Made from paper fiber
    • No harmful chemicals or by-products
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. SMALL PET SELECT Small Pet Aspen Bedding
    • Made from 100% kiln-dried aspen shavings
    • Totally recyclable and compostable
    • Contains no aromatic hydrocarbons
    • Ecological-friendly
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  4. GuineaDad Liner
    • Features a generously-sized pocket for burrowing
    • Fully machine-washable
    • Feature three layers to protect your pet from moisture
    • Available in seven color combinations
    Check Amazon

Top Picks: The Best Guinea Pig Bedding Today

#1 Overall Best Bedding: Carefresh 99% Dust Free Natural Paper Small Pet with Odor Control

Our choice for the best guinea pig bedding is Carefresh 99% Dust-Free Natural Paper Small Pet Bedding with Odor Control. This super-soft bedding material is made from “comfyfluff,” a reclaimed paper fiber that’s biodegradable and compostable. Plus, it’s virtually dust-free, so your furry friend won’t inhale dust when they burrow and play in their bedding — and you won’t inhale it when you change it.

Carefresh 99% Dust-Free White with Odor Control suppresses the ammonia odor from your piggy’s urine for up to 10 days. It’s designed not to stick to the bottom of the cage so it’s easier to clean up. And the best feature is that it’s twice as absorbent as wood shavings, so it stays clean and drier longer.

This high-performance bedding is free from harmful chemicals and artificial dyes. Because it’s completely biodegradable and compostable, you can even add soiled Carefresh to your garden where it will feed your plants!  

Guinea pigs seem to love this stuff too! They get extremely excited whenever their cage is newly filled with Carefresh, and it’s clear that they luxuriate in its fluffy, pillowy softness. Piggy owners can spot-clean the cage daily, using a kitty-litter scoop to remove soiled Carefresh, and then replace the old bedding each week with new, clean bedding.

Carefresh 99% Dust Free with Odor Control is available in several different sizes, from 10 liters (610 cubic inches) up to 60 liters (3,661 cubic inches). And you can purchase it in six colors: white, natural, blue, confetti, sea glass, and purple. There’s a learning curve to determining how much you need to buy and use for your pet’s cage. It’s more expensive than some of the other bedding options, but in our opinion, it’s worth it to keep our piggies clean, dry, and happy.

Pros and Cons of the Carefresh 99% Dust Free Natural Paper Small Pet with Odor Control

This bedding is made from “comfyfluff” reclaimed paper fiber that’s biodegradable and compostable.It takes some time and practice to determine how much your guinea pig needs for their cage.
It is free from harmful chemicals and artificial dyes.It is more expensive than some of the other options for bedding.
It is almost entirely dust free.
This bedding naturally suppresses the ammonia odor from urine for up to 10 days.
lt is easy to clean and doesn’t stick to the bottom of your guinea pig’s cage. And the best feature is that it’s twice as absorbent as wood shavings, so it stays clean and drier longer.
It stays clean and drier longer, and is twice as absorbent as wood shavings,
You can purchase this bedding in several different size packages, from 10 liters up to 60 liters.
There are six different color options to choose from.
Overall Best
Carefresh Small Animal Bedding
  • Made from reclaimed paper fiber
  • Biodegradable and compostable
  • Actively suppress ammonia odor
  • Very absorbent
Check Chewy Check Amazon

2. Best Bargain: Kaytee Clean & Cozy Natural Small Animal Pet Bedding

The Kaytee Clean & Cozy Natural Small Animal Pet Bedding is our choice for the best bargain paper fiber bedding. This excellent basic bedding absorbs up to twice as much urine as wood shavings, leaving your piggy’s cage — and your home — smell much fresher. Clean & Cozy is also 99% dust-free! This means that you can breathe easier knowing that your favorite herbivore isn’t breathing in potentially irritating dust.

This paper fiber bedding is soft and fluffy so your pet can burrow and nest in comfort. It doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals or by-products, and it’s safe for all pets. It’s also much cheaper than our first choice for Best Overall Bedding but is still a high-quality choice.

You can get this stuff in a bag and it looks like a brick. But don’t worry, it’s not hard; it’s just all squished together. To use it, just pull apart the pieces with your hands and fluff them up. Once it’s ready to go, the bedding is super soft and fluffy for your pet!

Because it’s made from paper, it is biodegradable, so you can compost it. However, while it is softer than wood shavings, customers report that it is a bit rougher to the touch than our first choice for Best Overall Bedding. It also doesn’t absorb quite as well, but for the price, it’s still an excellent option.

The Kaytee Clean & Cozy Natural Bedding comes in several different sizes, from 12.3 liters up to 100 liters.

Pros and Cons of the Kaytee Clean & Cozy Natural Small Animal Pet Bedding

ProsCons
This bedding absorbs twice as much urine as wood shavings do.It’s not quite as soft as our first choice for Best Overall Bedding.
It is 99% dust free.It doesn’t absorb quite as well as our first choice for Best Overall Bedding.
The bedding is soft and fluffy.
It does not contain any harmful chemicals or by-products.
The bedding is high-quality and affordable.
It is biodegradable.
There are several different sizes available, from 12.3 liters to 100 liters.
Best Bargain
Kaytee Clean & Cozy Natural Small Animal Bedding
  • Absorbs urine into the product
  • 99% dust-free
  • Made from paper fiber
  • No harmful chemicals or by-products
Check Chewy Check Amazon

3. Best Aspen Wood Shavings Bedding: Small Pet Select Jumbo Aspen Bedding

Small Pet Select Jumbo Aspen Bedding contains only one ingredient: 100% kiln-dried aspen shavings sourced from Nebraska, U.S.A. Since it’s made from wood shavings from logs, nothing is wasted during production and there are no harmful fibers. And it’s 100% recyclable and compostable, which makes it an ecologically sound choice.

Cedar and pine shavings contain aromatic hydrocarbons (phenols) that smell fresh and clean to humans but can cause serious respiratory and skin irritation in small animals like piggies. Small Pet Select Jumbo Aspen Bedding, on the other hand, contains no aromatic hydrocarbons. It’s also completely free from dyes and other additives. It’s available in several sizes, ranging from 16 liters to 226 liters (two bags of 113 liters).

These are some of the softest, fluffiest Aspen shavings out there. Guinea pigs love to burrow through them, especially when the shavings are fresh. Having said that, however, wood shavings are not as absorbent as paper-fiber bedding, so they will not keep your pet’s cage — or your pet — as dry and odor-free as the previous options. Also, wood shavings tend to stick to fur, so you may have to brush off your guinea pigs before taking them out to play.   

The manufacturer recommends spot-cleaning damp spots and soiled areas between changes so your piggy doesn’t experience “urine scald.”

Pros and Cons of the Small Pet Select Jumbo Aspen Bedding

ProsCons
The only ingredient used in this bedding is 100% kiln-dried aspen shavings.This bedding is not as absorbent as paper-fiber options.
The shavings are soft and fluffy and great for burrowing.Wood shavings have a tendency to stick to fur, so you may have to brush off your pet before taking them out of their cage.
It is sourced from Nebraska.
Nothing is wasted during production, and the bedding does not contain any harmful fibers.
It is 100% recyclable and compostable.
There are no dyes, additives, or aromatic hydrocarbons.
There are several sizes available, ranging from 16-liter bags to a two-pack of 113-liter bags.
Best Aspen Wood Shavings Bedding
SMALL PET SELECT Small Pet Aspen Bedding
  • Made from 100% kiln-dried aspen shavings
  • Totally recyclable and compostable
  • Contains no aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Ecological-friendly
Check Chewy Check Amazon

4. Best Fleece Bedding: GuineaDad Liner

In our opinion, the GuineaDad Liner takes fleece bedding to a whole new level. GuineaDad Liner has resolved past issues with fleece liners, including the fact that piggies like to burrow under them (which totally defeats the purpose). Instead, the GuineaDad Liner features a generously-sized pocket that piggies instinctively burrow into so they’ll feel safe.

GuineaDad Liners feature three layers of premium materials to protect your pet from moisture: a soft moisture-wicking fleece, an absorbent bamboo fiberfill blend, and a waterproof backing to keep urine off the cage floor. This unique system absorbs odors and, unlike disposable bedding, it’s 100% dust-free. They are well-cushioned for your guinea pig’s comfort and are machine-washable (with cold water and a low dryer setting). Fleece bedding liners can be reused until they wear out. What a money saver!

However, customers reported that you might still notice a faint urine odor after a day or two when using these liners. Some said that they needed to wash the liners more often than the company suggests. It is also helpful if you purchase at least two liners, so you can swap them out when one needs to be cleaned.

These innovative liners come in several sizes, so one is sure to fit your pet’s cage. They shrink during the initial wash, but GuineaDad took this into account and made the liner bigger to make up for the difference. Even after you wash the liner, it might still be slightly bigger than your cage.

They’re available in several color combinations, all of which feature a light grey liner and a pocket in a contrasting color. You can also purchase one that’s grey on grey.

The liners are even packaged in a box that converts to a chewable hidey house within seconds!

Pros and Cons of the GuineaDad Liners

ProsCons
You can wash them in the washing machine with cold water and put them in the dryer on low heat.Since they are not disposable, it does take some time to clean the liners.
Although the liners shrink in the wash, the company made them extra big to account for this issue.Some customers reported that the liners did have a slight urine smell, and may need to be washed more often than suggested.
This bedding liner has a generously-sized pocket for your guinea pig to burrow in.You may need to buy two liners so that you can have one ready to put in your pet’s cage while you’re cleaning the first one.
It has three layers to protect your guinea pig from moisture build-up: a soft moisture-wicking fleece, an absorbent bamboo fiberfill blend, and a waterproof backing.
The three layers of the liner absorb odors and are 100% dust-free.
There are six sizes available.
There are seven color combinations available.
The packaging the liners come in can be converted into a chewable guinea pig-sized house for your pet.
Best Fleece Bedding
GuineaDad Liner
  • Features a generously-sized pocket for burrowing
  • Fully machine-washable
  • Feature three layers to protect your pet from moisture
  • Available in seven color combinations
Check Amazon

Choosing the Best Bedding for Guinea Pigs: What to Look For

When you’re shopping for the best bedding for your guinea pig, you need to consider four main factors: safety, price, absorption, and durability.

Safety

The three main bedding options evaluated in this review — reclaimed paper fibers, aspen wood shavings, and fleece — are all considered to be pet-safe.

Please note that none of these options are safe for consumption, however. If your piggy ingests a particular type of bedding, remove it from its cage immediately. If you think that they have consumed a significant amount, please contact your veterinarian immediately.

Many types of bedding that are labeled for “small animals” are actually unsafe for guinea pigs. At the end of this article, we’ve also included a list of bedding to avoid using for your guinea pig.

Price

When it comes to small animal bedding, price and durability are closely linked. The upfront cost of reclaimed paper-fiber bedding, for example, may seem expensive. However, you likely won’t need to replace it as often as Aspen wood bedding. Paper-fiber bedding is more absorbent, reduces odor, and doesn’t need to be replaced as frequently.

Absorption

Guinea pig bedding should be absorbent for several reasons. First, it helps keep the cage dry, clean, and hygienic. Absorbent bedding also helps protect the guinea pigs’ fur, feet, and skin from the effects of humidity. Lastly, absorbent bedding helps reduce odors in the cage and limits the growth of bacteria and fungi that can cause health issues for your pets.

Durability

Paper-fiber and Aspen wood bedding are designed to be disposable. You can spot clean wet and soiled areas daily and replace the bedding weekly (after thoroughly cleaning the tray and cage). Fleece bedding is designed to be washed and reused until it wears out.

The Different Types of Bedding: Pros and Cons Compared

Reclaimed Paper-Fiber Bedding:

ProsCons
Paper-fiber bedding is super soft and comfortable.It is more expensive upfront than Aspen shavings.
It is highly absorbent and controls odor.This bedding can be very messy — it will scatter around your guinea pig’s cage, and if you have open sides, your piggy may kick it out onto the floor.
It doesn’t need to be changed as frequently as Aspen shavings.There’s a learning curve to determining how much you need to buy and use for your pet’s cage
Paper-fiber bedding is low dust and easy to change out.
It is biodegradable and compostable.

Aspen Fiber Bedding:

ProsCons
Aspen fiber bedding is less expensive than reclaimed paper-fiber bedding.This bedding is not as absorbent as reclaimed paper-fiber bedding.
It is all-natural and safe, with no aromatic hydrocarbons (phenols).It is also messy — it will scatter around your guinea pig’s cage, and if you have open sides, your piggy may kick it out onto the floor.
It is soft and comfortable for your piggy.The package is heavy.
It is also biodegradable and compostable.Wood shavings can stick to your piggy’s fur so you’ll need to brush them off before you take your guinea pig out to play.

Fleece Bedding:

ProsCons
Fleece bedding wicks urine away from the surface so your piggy stays dry.The up-front cost of fleece bedding is expensive.
Fleece bedding liners can be vacuumed or shaken out to remove dropping between washings.If you don’t have a washer and dryer in your home, this option is not for you.
They can be washed and dried almost indefinitely, saving money in the long run.

What NOT to Use for Your Guinea Pig’s Bedding

Not all bedding for guinea pigs is safe, even if it’s labeled for small pets. Here are some types of bedding you should avoid using in your cavy’s cage:

  • Pine or Cedar Shavings: Cedar and pine bedding are extremely unsafe for guinea pigs. This type of bedding contain phenols, or aromatic oils, that can be bad for your guinea pig’s health. Phenols can irritate their respiratory system and even damage their liver or cause skin allergies.
  • Corn Cob Bedding: Corn cob bedding is not safe for guinea pigs. It doesn’t control odors, it can be hard on their delicate paws, and if eaten, it can cause choking or an intestinal blockage. Plus, when wet, it swells up in size and can be dangerous to consume. It’s also a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi that can grow moldy over time.
  • Straw: Straw bedding isn’t the best choice for guinea pigs. It’s rough and coarse with sharp and tough stalks that can hurt your guinea pig’s nose, eyes, mouth, and skin. It also doesn’t absorb moisture or control odors very well.
  • Newspaper: Newspapers and magazines are not a good choice for guinea pig bedding. They contain inks and chemicals that can be harmful if ingested. Plus, they don’t absorb moisture or control odors, so your pet’s cage will get smelly quickly.
  • Cat Litter: Clay, crystal, and clumping cat litters are the worst bedding options for guinea pigs. They contain chemicals that may be toxic to guinea pigs and can lead to choking or blockages if ingested.

Up Next:

Best forProduct
Best OverallCarefresh Small Animal Bedding
Best BargainKaytee Clean & Cozy Natural Small Animal Bedding
Best Aspen Wood Shavings BeddingSMALL PET SELECT Small Pet Aspen Bedding
Best Fleece BeddingGuineaDad Liner
About the Author

My passion is writing about animals. I’ve published articles on pet parrots, birds, and small animal care and reviews about pet food and products. I have an ever-evolving aviary and menagerie that has included cockatiels, parakeets, conures, European starlings, a chukar partridge, guinea pigs, dogs, and cats. I’m also the author of Faith without Labels: a Guide to Eclectic Spirituality.

The Best Bedding For Guinea Pigs FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What type of bedding is BAD for guinea pigs?

  • Pine or Cedar Shavings
  • Corn Cob Bedding
  • Straw
  • Newspaper
  • Cat Litter

See the section above about “What Not to Use for Your Guinea Pig’s Bedding”.

What can you use for guinea pig bedding?

When it comes to guinea pig bedding, a lot of pet owners choose fleece because it’s reusable and affordable. But if you use fleece, you need to be extra careful, as urine can easily pool on the surface which will make your pet wet. For this reason, it’s important to clean your fleece bedding at least every two days, as it isn’t very absorbent.

Guinea pig natural paper bedding, aspen wood shavings, and other substrates that are safe for guinea pigs can be great; they’re absorbent and keep odors down. The downside is that you won’t be able to reuse them once they’re dirty, so they’ll need to be thrown away.

Why is my guinea pig eating his bedding?

Guinea pigs usually eat bedding for one of two reasons. One: They’re bored. Two: They’re trying to wear their teeth, which grow continuously throughout their lives, down.

Regardless of the reason, bedding is not designed to be ingested and it can cause serious health issues such as impaction. If you suspect that your piggy has been eating their bedding, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Why does my guinea pig need bedding?

Giving your guinea pig bedding (and especially the right kind of bedding) is very important! Guinea pig bedding helps soak up any pee or moisture, keeping your pet’s habitat clean and smelling fresh.

Without bedding, the smell of their droppings and urine can become really strong in their habitat, and create an unsafe environment for them. As a responsible pet parent, you should get absorbent bedding that will help keep the smell away so they stay healthy and happy.

In addition,

Having lots of bedding for your guinea pig helps keep them warm, so they don’t get freezing during cold days, especially if they live outside. Make sure to always have plenty of bedding on-hand so your cavy stays nice and cozy.

Guinea pigs also LOVE to burrow, so they need plenty of bedding and hiding places.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.