You’ve used up your reptile enclosure cleaning spray from the pet store and are now stuck wondering “what else can I use?” It’s easy to reach for the next cleaning spray you have stashed under your sink, but how do we know if it’s safe?
Fortunately, most cleaning sprays are safe to use on ball python enclosures, especially if used properly.
In this article, I’ll discuss the best household cleaning products for cleaning your ball python’s enclosure, as well as how to use them correctly.
- Dish soap
- Cleaning vinegar
- Baking soda
- Lemon & salt
I’ve even included an all-natural cleaning alternative to the harsh chemical sprays you’ll find in stores.
I used all of these ingredients to clean my ball python’s enclosure with no negative effects and the fact that they actually work in removing stains and odors is an added bonus.
To avoid stressing your reptile, use all of these cleaning solutions only when it’s not in its cage. Even if the cleaner is made entirely of natural ingredients, your pet may be sensitive to the odors.
Always read the warning label on the back of store-bought cleaners to ensure they are safe to use around pets.
Recommended product: Blue Dawn dish soap
Add a few drops of Dawn dish soap into a spray bottle with water.
Dish Soap + Baking Soda + Vinegar: Create a paste and use it to clean hard water stains
Dish soap is a tried-and-true cleaning product for any animal enclosure. It’s safe to use on snake enclosures and won’t cause irritation to your snake if it contacts their skin.
Remember that commercial where they cleaned off that oil-covered little duckling? That commercial is still relevant today.
What harm could it do to a reptile if it’s safe enough for a baby duckling?
The answer is none, especially if you rinse the soap out of the enclosure after using it.
There’s no denying the blue Dawn dish soap‘s ability to cut grease. It’s both effective and safe, so you can’t go wrong with this one.
One of my favorite features of this dish soap is that it can be used on glass, plastic, PVC, and most other surfaces found in a ball python’s enclosure.
You won’t damage the ball python enclosure parts if you use a soft rag or sponge along with the soap.
I use it by putting a few drops in a spray bottle with a splash of bleach and diluting it with water.
I completely saturate my ball python’s tub with this mixture and allow it to sit for a few minutes to break down any tough stains. I’ll then wipe it down with paper towels or a rag, rinse it, and let it air dry.
If there is any remaining dirt, I repeat the process, focusing the spray mixture on the caked-on mess.
This mixture is the one I use the most because it is simple to make and easy to use. The disadvantage of this solution is that you must rinse off the soapy residue, so there are some alternatives that are even easier to use which you only spray and wipe.
Recommended product: Clorox Bleach
1 tbsp of bleach per cup of water.
Only use bleach in its diluted form.
This diluted formula is safe for cleaning your ball python’s enclosure while killing many viruses and bacteria.
General Disinfecting Solution Using Bleach
|Amount of Cool Water||Amount of Bleach||Contact Time|
|Ratio||48 parts||1 part|
|Five Gallon Bucket||1 gallon||1/3 cup||6 minutes|
|2 gallon||2/3 cup||6 minutes|
|3 gallon||1 cup||6 minutes|
|40 oz. Spray Bottle||5 cups||5 teaspoons||6 minutes|
|32 oz. Spray Bottle||4 cups||4 teaspoons||6 minutes|
|24 oz. Spray Bottle||3 cups||3 teaspoons||6 minutes|
|16. oz Spray Bottle||2 cups||2 teaspoons||6 minutes|
Bleach Solution to Kill Additional Organisms
|Amount of Cool Water||Amount of Bleach||Contact Time|
|Ratio||36 parts||1 part|
|Five Gallon Bucket||3/4 gallon||1/3 cup||5 minutes|
|1 1/2 gallon||2/3 cup||5 minutes|
|40 oz. Spray Bottle||4 1/2 cups||2 tablespoons||5 minutes|
|24 or 32 oz. Spray Bottle||3 cups||4 teaspoons||5 minutes|
|16. oz Spray Bottle||1 1/2 cups||2 teaspoons||5 minutes|
Bleach is such a harsh chemical. How can it be safe for ball pythons?
Bleach is a harsh chemical that can harm your ball pythons if used incorrectly.
Most of us use bleach incorrectly by spraying it on the surface or area we want to whiten or disinfect.
There are some directions on the back of the bottle, but who has time to read them when we’re trying to clean up a mess?
Instead of reading the 8pt font on the back of the bottle, I gathered information from the top bleach manufacturer, Clorox’s website.
According to the Clorox website, bleach is safe to use on your pet’s enclosure if used properly.
The mixtures shown in the table above are safe to use while also killing germs.
(Do not use this bleach solution while your ball python is still in its enclosure since the fumes can still harm or stress them.)
Strengthen the bleach cleaning power
To make a stronger cleaning solution, add a few drops of dish soap to your bleach mixture, or use it on its own.
Although you should always dilute bleach before using it on any surface, you should never combine it with vinegar, ammonia, or alcohol. Chemical reactions occur when these are combined with bleach, which can be harmful to both you and your pet.
Some store-bought reptile enclosure cleaners contain ammonia, so use caution when using it in combination with bleach.
After you’ve made your bleach solution according to the measurements in the table above, spray it on the dirty enclosure and let it sit for 5-6 minutes. This gives the bleach time to disinfect and kill any unwanted bacteria on the surfaces you spray.
Allow it to sit for a few minutes before rinsing with clean water. After drying it with a paper towel, you’ll have a clean, disinfected enclosure ready for new substrate.
Clorox.com recommends making a new bleach solution on a regular basis because it breaks down tap water into salt and water making it useless when disinfecting. It varies from store-bought ready-to-use cleaning products with bleach, which typically have a shelf life of one year.
Recommended Product: Harris Cleaning Vinegar
Spray cleaning vinegar directly on surfaces
Create a paste with cleaning vinegar and baking soda to rub on surface.
Cleaning vinegar, which contains 6% acetic acid, is 20% stronger than distilled white vinegar, which contains only 5%. Although it is acidic, it is safe to use in snake enclosures as long as it is rinsed off properly afterwards.
When used properly, cleaning vinegar won’t leave any sour smells nor cause visible irritation to your snake.
Its purpose is to degrease and remove tough stains such as lime and soap scum. This makes it ideal for pet messes.
Cleaning vinegar disinfects surfaces too. It has the power to kill germs and bacteria that may linger on the reptile’s enclosure when used properly. Because it contains no harsh chemicals, it is one of the world’s safest and most effective cleaning solutions.
While white distilled vinegar (the kind you use to cook with) is a possible cleaning solution, cleaning vinegar is much stronger and more effective at removing dirt, buildup, and disinfecting surfaces.
Spray, wipe, rinse, and dry the spray just like you would any other cleaning product to effectively clean the ball python’s enclosure.
Recommended Product: Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda(unscented)
Combine baking soda with any other product listed in this article to boost the cleaning strength of the product.
Baking soda, made of sodium bicarbonate, is a common household ingredient used for cooking, baking, and even odor control. It is commonly used as a baking ingredient to add fluff to baked goods.
When combined with an acid, such as vinegar, it bubbles up and acts as a mild abrasive.
You can safely mix it with bleach too.
To clean my ball python’s enclosure, I make a paste with baking soda and ONE of the previously mentioned liquids, such as vinegar or bleach.
Rub the paste mixture on the enclosure and allow the paste mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes. Rinse with water after scrubbing with a rag or towel.
Baking soda is a safe product to use around reptiles, and it is safer than some reptile tank cleaners available at pet stores. Baking soda paste has an abrasive texture that is abrasive enough to remove caked-on grime but gentle enough not to damage plastic or glass.
When you add it to your cleaning solution, it gives it a little more oomph when removing stains and odors.
Lemon and Coarse Salt
Cut a lime in half. Pour salt into a shallow bowl or plate. Dip the lemon so some salt sticks to the lemon. Scrub glass surfaces with the lemon.
Lemon is the most natural cleaner for your reptile’s enclosure. A TheA lemon and salt combination is excellent for removing water stains, particularly on glass.
What’s the best part about this pairing? It has a wonderful smell.
It’s ideal for people who are sensitive to the odors of cleaning products like bleach.
Because it is all natural, the lemon and salt combination poses no danger to your reptile once they are returned to their enclosure.
The acidity of the lemon juice combined with the scrubbing power of the salt provides an excellent alternative to harsh chemicals.
It takes a little more elbow grease, but it gets the job done.
The downside to using this for cleaning is that it doesn’t disinfect like most of these other cleaning solutions.
Other helpful items
Sure, we can use all of these mixtures to clean your reptile’s enclosure, but what about other supplies?
Here is a list of products that I use for cleaning my reptiles’ tanks and tubs that you might find useful.
These towels are more sturdy than regular paper towels. They are disposable, durable, and they absorb much better than your standard paper towel.
Some are made of cotton so they are extremely soft and won’t damage any plastic or glass you use it on.
A light pressure washer will do just the trick to wash off stains or rinse off your cleaning solutions.
I use one that is only 1600psi and it provides just enough pressure to clean the tubs I use it on.
They are sustainable and safe for the environment if you’re looking for a natural way to clean your reptile’s enclosure.
Surprisingly, the dust pan I have isn’t for sweeping. Instead I use my dustpan to scoop up substrate for my ball python’s enclosures.
It scoops up our coconut substrate perfectly and is much more efficient than using your hands.
It’s not meant for cleaning, but it’s something to keep in mind when filling the enclosure back up.
If you’re tired of spending money on pet store-bought reptile enclosure cleaning products, there are plenty of other safe options that you most likely already have in your home.
Since I’ve used them all, these cleaning products have been proven safe for your reptiles, particularly ball pythons.
Just make sure to use them correctly. Most of these products, in general, only need to be rinsed off before reintroducing your reptile.
Follow these steps (and recipes) and you’ll have a fine experience cleaning your ball python enclosure with these household cleaners.
Can I use apple cider vinegar for cleaning?
It is safe to use apple cider vinegar to clean your reptile’s enclosure in the same way that cleaning vinegar is. Its acetic acid content, however, is not as strong, so it won’t be as effective when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
Can I use disinfectant spray on my reptile enclosure?
Lysol and other phenol sprays are toxic to reptiles and should not be used in reptile enclosures. Although you can rinse the spray after it has disinfected a surface, there are many healthier alternatives, such as those listed in this article.