While geckos are naturally clean pets and are relatively low-maintenance compared to other pets, they still need some help, especially in keeping their cages bacteria-free. How to clean leopard gecko tanks is a considerable part of leopard gecko care.
How to clean your gecko terrarium will depend on the type of terrarium cleaning you’ll be performing at any given time. The daily spot cleaning you’ll carry out will be different from the deep cleaning needed every fortnight or monthly, as you’ll read below. Additionally, we’ll cover what to use to clean a leopard gecko tank.
With this in mind, let’s start by learning how often you should clean your leopard gecko tank and how to clean the tank every time you perform the cleaning.
How Often Should I Clean My Leopard Gecko Tank
There’re many considerations in deciding the frequency of cleaning your gecko tank. Consequently, there are no universal standards on how often to clean a gecko tank. Nonetheless, you can use the golden guidelines that many leopard gecko owners follow in cleaning their pet’s tanks.
Daily Spot Cleaning
You ought to spot clean the gecko excrement every day.
Geckos poop once after eating. As such, remove the waste every day you feed them. Young geckos feed every day, while adult geckos should be fed every other day.
The goal of spot cleaning is to ensure the poop does not stay in place long enough to break down and start smelling the tank. Additionally, daily spot cleaning negates poop amassing in your pet’s cage.
Simply wipe away the poop from the glass or scoop the poop from the substrate. For your health and safety, wear gloves. Reusable rubber gloves or disposable latex gloves help reduce the spread of bacteria such as salmonella.
To make spot cleaning a much easier and straightforward part of your daily chores, you can simply place a paper towel on the corner your gecko uses to relieve itself. After pooping, remove the poop-covered paper towel.
However, this only works when your pet only uses one particular spot/corner. Generally, geckos tend to use one spot/corner. If your gecko is new, wait until it forms a habit of using one spot.
Finally, pick up any uneaten food to keep the cage tidy.
NOTE: If you’ve recently bought a gecko, try to minimize the disturbance of its tank to help it get over its nerves and learn to be comfortable in its new surroundings quickly. With this in mind, only open the tank when necessary during the first week or two.
Do your daily spot cleaning when feeding the gecko to minimize the number of times you open the tank and startle the gecko.
Weekly/Bi-Weekly Dish And Substrate Cleaning
Luckily, while the weekly spot-cleaning of your gecko’s tank is more in-depth, it’s not a challenging endeavor. If they poop in an area not covered by a substrate or an impermeable substrate such as the reptile tile ACKEIVTO Slate Reptile Basking Platform or vinyl flooring mix a few drops of dish soap in warm water and thoroughly wipe the poop stain completely.
A better alternative, buy the Flukers Super Scrub Brush with the Organic Reptile Habitat Cleaner to ensure your gecko tank is poop and salmonella free.
After cleaning the tile or vinyl floor, ensure you rinse the floor thoroughly to clean any soap and/or disinfectant traces. Additionally, let the floor dry completely.
Pro Tip: Place the gecko in a holding cage/container as you clean and sterilize the tank.
If you use a loose substrate like our recommended Zoo Med Loose Coconut Fiber Substrate, you do not have to clean the cage with a disinfectant. Instead, you should carefully look for fecal matter and eaten food and pick them up.
As for the feeding and drinking dishes/bowls, first, soak them in hot soapy water. Then take the dish and clean it in the sink with running water. Additionally, use a reptile-safe disinfectant to kill any bacteria while ensuring your pets are safe.
Monthly Deep Cleaning Your Leopard Gecko Tank
The ideal frequency of deep cleaning your leopard tank varies from once a week, every fortnight, monthly, or even once every two months. How often to deep clean the gecko tank will depend on several factors, including:
What To Consider To Determine How Often You Should Deep Clean A Gecko Tank
1. The Substrate You Use
Some substrates will force you to be deep clean your leopard gecko tank more frequently than others. If you use the Zoo Med Loose Coconut Fiber Substrate, you can deep clean your tank in a 4-week cycle.
If you use a vinyl substrate for geckos or reptile tiles, you can deep clean your leopard gecko tank once every 5 to 6 weeks as the daily spot cleaning and weekly cleaning are more effective.
However, when you use a DIY substrate such as newspapers and or paper towel (which is the recommended substrate for leopard geckos under 6 months old), you need deep to clean the tank at a higher frequency – every fortnight. Such a substrate does not hold well to the wear and tears caused by your pet.
2. The Ease And Effectively of Daily Spot Cleaning Your Tank
Some terrariums are inherently easy to clean. A large tank with sparsely placed accessories, hides, and décor will give you more room to access and maneuver around the tank, remove any debris, uneaten food, and poop during your daily spot cleaning sessions.
Conversely, a smaller tank is harder to access all the areas.
You can get away with cleaning the former tank setup once every month. On the other hand, if you can’t spot clean your tank often, the frequency of deep cleaning increases to something like twice a month.
How To Clean Leopard Gecko Tanks: Deep Cleaning A Gecko Cage
- Emptying all items from the tank
- Cleaning all the accessories, hides, décor, etc.
- Disinfecting all the accessories, hides, décor, etc.
- Removing all the debris in the tank and cleaning it
- Disinfecting the tank surfaces
- Reassembling the terrarium setup
Take your leopard gecko out of its terrarium about once a month and place it in a holding container with a hide or two. All hides, decorations, substrate, and feeding bowls should be removed from the tank and soaked in the basin with soapy water.
Clean the bottom of the vivarium, removing any dead insects, dirt, or other debris from the corners. Scoop up any loose dirt from the floor after removing the substrate and use a reptile disinfectant to spray all surfaces.
The F10SC Veterinary Disinfectant is recommended for the monthly deep cleaning. It aids in the removal of excrement and urate from glass walls, accessories, and hides. Additionally, it kills any bacteria on the surface. Importantly, it’s very safe for your reptile.
Leave the disinfectant in place for a few minutes before cleaning the tank with a rag or paper towel.
Thereafter, apply the disinfectant on all surfaces of the glass cage and let it sit for the recommended time. After that, rinse all the surfaces with a lot of water, ensuring no traces of the disinfectant or its fumes remain.
Remove the tank bowls, accessories, plants, furniture, and hides from the soapy water, and using a sponge, soft-bristled brush, or cloth, scrub them clean.
After rinsing all items, spray a disinfectant to kill any remnant bacteria. Rinse all of the items once again to eliminate any traces of disinfectant.
If you have an aversion to using disinfectants, consider investing in a steam cleaner. Steam cleaners like our recommended BISSELL SteamShot Steam Cleaner with Natural Sanitization use high-pressure dry steam to clean dirt, grime, grease, and anything in between.
Notably, the high-pressure dry steam effectively disinfects your leopard gecko cage without introducing chemicals that leave fumes dangerous for your gecko. It penetrates all microscopic pores and eliminates germs.
After that, let everything air dry completely. If you don’t get everything as dry as possible, the dampness, moisture, and humidity levels will be out of the comfortable range for your leopard gecko once everything you set up your tank again.
You may start setting up the tank for your pet once all of the materials have been thoroughly cleaned and dried, as well as your flooring has been scrubbed and wiped clean.
NOTE: Since there are no feasible means of cleaning loose substrate, you’ll need to replace it at least every two months, depending on the material.
NOTE: We’ve not discussed cleaning reptile carpets in regards to deep-cleaning your leopard gecko tank. It’s not an omission. Generally, we discourage leopard gecko owners from using reptile carpets in their leopard gecko tanks.
Your gecko’s small nails and feet may get caught in the wide holes in the carpet and the carpet fiber, which could cause your gecko to self-harm as it tries to force its toes or nails loose.
However, some reptile carpets are designed to be as compact as possible and do not have holes across the fabric. As such, there’s no risk of your pet gecko getting tangled and self-harming. Learn how to clean such a carpet here if you have one.
What To Use To Clean Leopard Gecko Tank
A related question of how to clean gecko tanks that many leopard gecko owners have is the best cleaning solution for leopard gecko tanks. With extensive research, you learn that leopard gecko owners use various cleaning solutions, each with its benefits.
Some are readily available household items you already have at home. Others are dedicated reptile cleaning disinfectants. Some pet owners use particular cleaning solutions for their cost-effective nature. Here are some common cleaning solutions and what we think about them.
1. Commercial Grade Reptile Cleaning Solutions
For us, this is the best cleaning solution you can choose to keep your gecko’s cage clean and pathogen-free. If you’re to choose just disinfectant for all of your cage, décor, accessories, and hides cleaning, the F10SC Veterinary Disinfectant is the perfect solution for you. If you need a pet disinfectant for spot cleaning, the Flukers Super Scrub Brush with Organic Reptile Habitat Cleaner is the best option.
2. Commercially Available 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
According to the CDC, the commercially available 3% hydrogen peroxide is an effective disinfectant. As such, you can safely use hydrogen peroxide without diluting or adding any other chemical to it.
Just makes sure you rinse any surface that comes in contact with hydrogen peroxide to avoid your gecko from coming in contact with the chemical. It might irritate your gecko.
3. Diluted Vinegar Solution
You can clean a gecko tank with vinegar. While it’s not sold nor classified as a disinfectant, it does bacteria that lurk in gecko cages, such as salmonella and E. coli.
4. Antibacterial Liquid Soap
If you choose to use antibacterial dish soap, ensure it’s phosphate-free. The presence of phosphate might leave residues that produce pungent fumes that affect your gecko.
However, we do not recommend using this option owing to increasing the risk of superbugs. A combination of regular dish soap and a reptile disinfectant is a better option.
5. Diluted Bleach Solution
Another commonly used disinfectant is diluted bleach. Bleach is a powerful disinfectant and will effectively get rid of all pathogens lurking in the cage.
However, we highly discourage using bleach for disinfecting a gecko cage, even in diluted form. It leaves a district bleach after-smell that’s not good for your gecko. Furthermore, when you mix bleach and other cleaning solutions such as dish soap, it produces fumes that are very dangerous to you and your pet.
So, if you’re wondering how often should I clean my leopard gecko tank and/or how to clean leopard gecko tanks, use our pointer as a guide. Evolve your cleaning schedule and cleaning methods to suit your specific needs. Our guide is based on what we know to work best for the vast majority of leopard gecko owners. However, you can continuously iterate the cleaning methods and frequency to meet your beloved gecko’s needs.