How to Wick Fleece

hairless guinea pig on red fleece

You may have heard people speak about “wicking” their guinea pig fleeces or fleece liners before use… but what does it mean? Find out in this guide how to prepare fleece for your guinea pig cage before use.

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What is wicking and why is it necessary?

Wicking is the process of making the fleece more absorbent so water can pass through it. 

Variety of guinea pig fleece liners in different designs
Assortment of guinea pig fleece liners

With brand new unwashed fleece, if you pour water on it, the water tends to pool on top and is slow to absorb the water. After you have used the fleece and washed it a number of times the absorbency improves. If you pour water on the fleece after washing several times the water should soak straight into the fleece.

If your fleece liners aren’t wicked, when your guinea pig urinates it will create a puddle, which can result in your pet getting soaking fur, which isn’t hygienic or healthy for them.

We find the GuineaDad fleece liners absorb really well on first use so you may find they don’t need wicking. However, other brands and handmade fleece liners may require this process and if you’re using just fleece with some kind of absorbent layer underneath you’ll definitely have to wick your fleece before use.

How to wick your fleeces

You can wick fleece by washing it a few times before use. Most fleece liners should be washed in cold water and this shouldn’t impede the wicking process.

What detergent should I use?

Some laundry detergents contain conditioner, which stops the wicking process, so it’s worth checking the detergent description and ingredient list. Many also contain harsh chemicals and are not good for sensitive skin.

Guinea pig in a wooden corner hideout on colourful fleece liner bedding
Colorful fleece liner bedding

We recommend using the EcoEgg instead of a traditional detergent. This is not only good for your guinea pig bedding, but also for your own laundry. Here are the reasons why we like it:

  • There are no harmful chemicals
  • It’s vegan – not tested on animals and no animal derivatives contained in the product
  • Reduces plastic consumption
  • Cheaper than traditional detergents so will save you money
  • No mess as with powders and liquid detergents

Some people like to add vinegar in with the wash but this isn’t necessary for wicking. However, as distilled white vinegar has disinfectant properties, you could put ¼ to ½ a cup in your fabric conditioner compartment as it can help remove any lingering smells.

Tips on aiding the wicking process

  • Never use fabric conditioners or conditioning detergents. These products will work against the wicking process as they coat the fabric preventing the absorption of liquids.
  • Don’t use tumble dryer sheets. If you are tumble drying your fleeces, don’t add the dryer sheets as they do a similar job to the fabric conditioner, leaving a layer on your fleece and preventing water absorption. 
  • If using laundry liquid or powder, don’t use too much as it may not rinse thoroughly, therefore leaving residue on your liners which will prevent proper wicking.
  • Don’t overfill your washing machine as your fleeces may not rinse thoroughly.
  • Don’t over-dry your fleeces if using a tumble dryer. Too much heat can melt the pores in the fleece resulting in them closing and then unable to allow liquids to soak through.

If you’re making your own fleece liners, we recommend you buy anti-pill fleece as it has more absorbency than other fleeces such as Polar or Blizzard fleece.