How to Safely Clean Out Your Reptile Tank

How to Safely Clean Out Your Reptile Tank

20th Dec 2022

Follow These Steps for Sanitation and Disinfection

Your reptile’s enclosure is their entire world: It’s where they eat, sleep, and relax. Unfortunately, our reptile friends are not the best at keeping up with household chores. They cannot remove potentially harmful waste buildup without help. Left in the enclosure, waste can create harmful bacteria and lead to infection. This is why both cleaning and disinfection are key to keeping your reptile safe and healthy.

There are two different types of cleaning that need to be part of your regular routine.  

  1. Daily Cleaning
  2. Weekly Deep Cleaning

On a daily basis, you need to remove waste as soon as you see it: This includes feces, uneaten insects, food scraps, shed skin, soiled food, and so on. We also recommend removing and disinfecting your pet’s food and water dishes every day. 

On a weekly basis, you need to thoroughly clean, sanitize, and disinfect the enclosure and all of its contents. The first step is to gather your supplies. Keep in mind that to prevent cross-contamination, these supplies should only be used for enclosure cleaning and not for any other purpose in your home.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Temporary enclosure where your pet can rest while you clean
  • Small- and medium-sized brushes (toothbrushes work great for small crevices)
  • Buckets
  • Rubber gloves and eye protection
  • Paper towels
  • Dish soap or detergent
  • Disinfectant (like household bleach - ½ cup bleach to 1 gallon of water)
  • Sponges (separate sets for cleaning, rinsing, and disinfecting)
  • Large pot (for disinfecting rocks)

Your steps may vary based on the size of your enclosure and its contents, but generally, you can follow this list.  

  1. Turn off all the lights in the enclosure to let them cool down.
  2. Remove all decor and clean items with hot water and dish soap. After washing the items, disinfect them, rinse thoroughly, and allow them to dry. Rocks can be boiled in water for approximately 30 minutes to sanitize them.
  3. Clean and disinfect all water bowls and food bowls (like you do every day).
  4. Bag and discard any disposable substrate.
  5. Clean the interior of the enclosure with soap and hot water and rinse. Use a brush to scrub any waste and loosen any tough spots.
  6. Disinfect the interior of the enclosure using bleach or your preferred disinfectant (just make sure it is reptile-friendly). Rinse with hot water to remove any residue.
  7. Allow everything to dry in order to reduce the possibility of mold.
  8. Reinstall decorations in the enclosure.
  9. Clean and disinfect your cleaning equipment—everything from the buckets and gloves to the sponges and your sink.
  10. Wash your hands with hot, soapy water.

Finally, reassemble your pet’s habitat. Provide them with a layer of fresh substrate. Turn the lights back on and let the enclosure warm up. Check that all temperatures—in the basking area and both the warm and cool sides of the enclosure—are accurate. Ensure that all decor is secure. Before letting your pet back into their clean home, consider giving them a bath.

This may seem like a lot of steps, but once it becomes your routine, you can complete the task easily and quickly. It is worth the effort in order to keep your reptile safe from infection. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our team.

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