How Often Should You Clean An Indoor Tortoise Enclosure? [Schedule]

Pet tortoises are amazing creatures. If you keep your tortoise inside in an enclosure, how often should you clean it?

As a general rule, indoor tortoise enclosures should be cleaned on a schedule that includes spot cleaning daily, dish cleaning weekly, partial substrate replacement monthly, and a full cleaning every 3-6 months. Smaller enclosures need more frequent full deep cleaning (1 month) than larger ones (3-6 months). A clean enclosure will help prevent the spread of disease and will also keep your tortoise, and you healthy.

Whether you call it an indoor or inside enclosure or even a cage or tortoise table, let’s look at the recommended cleaning schedule.

How Often Should You Clean An Indoor Tortoise Enclosure? [Schedule]

Indoor Tortoise Enclosure Cleaning Schedule

Tortoises seem to be well protected from everything and they can appear to not let anything stop their progress, but looks can be deceiving.

As a tortoise keeper, it is important to maintain a clean and healthy environment for your pet. A clean enclosure, or cage, will help prevent bacteria or diseases from affecting your tortoise. Here is a suggested cleaning schedule for an inside tortoise enclosure:

FrequencyIndoor Tortoise Enclosure Cleaning Activity
DailySpot Cleaning – Pick up excrement, old food, wet substrate.
WeeklyWash Dishes – Clean food and water dishes.
MonthlyPartial Substrate Replacement – Remove soiled substrate. Replace and rotate.
Every 3-6 MonthsFull Cleaning – Remove all substrate/accessories. Replace with clean.
Medium-Large indoor tortoise cleaning schedule

Now, keep in mind that smaller enclosures need more frequent cleaning than large enclosures. Our recommended tortoise enclosure cleaning schedule above is based on large enclosures.

If you have a small tortoise enclosure or cage, we recommend the following schedule

FrequencyIndoor Tortoise Enclosure Cleaning Activity
DailySpot Cleaning – Pick up excrement, old food, wet substrate.
Semi-WeeklyWash Dishes – Clean food and water dishes.
WeeklyPartial Substrate Replacement – Remove soiled substrate. Replace and rotate.
MonthlyFull Cleaning – Remove all substrate/accessories. Replace with clean.
Small indoor tortoise cleaning schedule

No matter what you call them, these schedules work for tortoise enclosures, tortoise tables, and tortoise cages.

Let’s review the specific about these cleaning activities in light of understanding how often to clean the enclosure.

Spot Cleaning An Indoor Tortoise Enclosure

The first thing you should do when setting up your indoor tortoise enclosure is to create a schedule for spot cleaning. This will help you keep on top of the cleaning and ensure that your tortoise has a clean and healthy environment.

Ideally, you should spot clean the enclosure every day. This means removing any waste, uneaten food, and old water. To be clear, when we are talking about waste we mean tortoise feces and anything that your tortoise has urinated on. That includes any expelled urates (that white stuff they leave behind).

I’ve found that the easiest way, but the noisiest, is to use a shop vac to quickly pick up any soiled substrate or excrement. Alternatively, we’ve used dog poop scoop bags to just reach in and grab everything we need, then toss it into the waste bin.

While doing you daily spot cleaning, you should also give the enclosure a quick once over to look for any signs of damage or escape attempts.

If you can’t spot clean every day, then aim for every other day. This will help to keep the enclosure clean and tidy, and your tortoise healthy and happy.

Wash Tortoise Dishes And Accessories Weekly

In addition to cleaning the substrate, you should also wash your tortoise’s dishes and accessories on a weekly basis. This includes their food and water dishes, hiding spots, and any toys or enrichment items.

To clean the dishes, simply remove them from the enclosure and wash them with hot, soapy water. Be sure to rinse them well and let them air dry before putting them back in the enclosure.

You can clean the hiding spots and enrichment items in the same way. Alternatively, you can put them in the dishwasher on a hot, but gentle cycle. Make sure the items are dishwasher safe. Wooden items should only be washed by hand.

TORTOISE enclosure cleaning schedule

Doing A Partial Substrate Replacement

In addition to spot cleaning, you should also do a partial substrate replacement every month. This involves removing all of the soiled substrate and replacing it with fresh, clean substrate.

How much substrate you need to remove and replace will depend on the size of your tortoise and the amount of waste it produces. A general rule of thumb is to remove and replace about 10-20% of the substrate each month.

Some tortoise keepers will replace this amount weekly rather than monthly so that all the substrate has been replaced at the 5-6 month mark. This is practical if your tortoise tends to soil the same area of the enclosure regularly. Then you can focus replacement on that area more often.

To do a partial substrate replacement, simply scoop out the soiled substrate and dispose of it. Then, add fresh, clean substrate to the enclosure. Be sure to wash your hands after handling the soiled substrate.

When disposing of the old substrate, find an eco-friendly way of disposing it. For example, you can compost it or use it as mulch in your garden.

What Goes Into A Full Deep Cleaning?


In addition to your regular spot cleaning, you should also do a deep clean of the enclosure every week. This involves removing everything from the enclosure, including the tortoise, and giving the whole thing a thorough clean.

Start by removing your tortoise from the enclosure and placing them in a secure location. Then, remove all the substrate from the enclosure. This can be done by scooping it into a trash bag or bucket. Once it’s all out, you can vacuum the enclosure to remove any dust or dirt.

Next, you’ll need to clean all the accessories in the enclosure. This includes the water bowl, hide, and any other decorations. The best way to clean these is to soak them in a mixture of warm water and vinegar.

Once everything is clean, you can put the substrate back into the enclosure.

I recommend using a fresh batch of substrate for each deep clean. This will help to keep the enclosure clean and free of any harmful bacteria.

Finally, you can put your tortoise back into the enclosure and enjoy a clean and healthy environment for your pet!

What should I use to clean an indoor tortoise enclosure?

There are a few things you will need in order to clean your indoor tortoise enclosure properly.

First, you will need a shop vac or a dustpan and brush. You will also need fresh, clean substrate, and a bucket of mild soapy water or reptile-safe cleaner.

To clean the enclosure, simply remove the soiled substrate and dispose of it. Vacuum out all the old substrate and dust. Wash down all areas of the enclosure, scrubbing hard to get at areas or stain. Rinse and let dry.

Then, add fresh, clean substrate to the enclosure. Be sure to wash your hands after handling anything in your tortoise enclosure.

If you want to use a commercial cleaner, be sure to find one that is safe for reptiles. You can ask your veterinarian for recommendations.

Wrap Up

Cleaning an indoor tortoise enclosure is important for the health and happiness of your pet. By following the schedule and tips outlined in this article, you can be sure that your tortoise has a clean and safe environment to live in.

If you think your pet is ill, call a vet immediately. All health-related questions should be referred to your veterinarian. They can examine your pet, understand its health history, and make well informed recommendations for your pet.

903pets.com Staff

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