How Often Should I Clean My Leopard Gecko’s Tank?

Having a clean tank is critical for multiple reasons.  Not only does it make our leopard geckos feel comfortable and stress-free in their environment, but it can also help minimize the risk of a stinky bedroom caused by an accumulation of feces and urine matter within the tank as well.  To avoid dealing with any problems that come with having a smelly tank, this is how often you should clean it.

How often should I clean my leopard gecko’s tank?  While their tanks should be deep cleaned once every month, their feces and urate should be picked up and cleaned out every single day or whenever they excrete waste.

Leopard geckos are naturally clean pets and they do a wonderful job at keeping not only their tank clean but their self clean as well.  So compared to other commonly owned pets, maintaining the cleanliness of their tank isn’t as much of a chore and is nothing you should have to worry about doing too often as long as you’re spot cleaning whenever they use the restroom.  Let’s learn more.

Consider Your Setup

While most setups will need to be cleaned out around once a month, others will need to be cleaned out a little more often than that because of natural wear and tear.  For example, if you’re using a substrate such as rock slate or stone tiles, then getting away with deep cleaning your tank just once every month will usually be fine.

But, if you’re using a substrate like paper towels, newspaper, or any other type of paper substrate, then it will need to be replaced more along the lines of once every two weeks instead, and possibly even sooner than that depending on how often your leopard gecko uses the restroom.

While paper substrates are great, safe, and one of my top recommendations, I don’t use it these days because of the fact that it does have to be replaced way more often than other types of substrates, so if that’s an issue you’re currently dealing with or would like to avoid altogether, then I would definitely recommend either slate rock or tile.

I currently use this substrate here from Amazon because my leopard gecko absolutely loves it, but if you’d like to go with either the slate rock or tile, then that’s fine as well.  As long as it’s not dangerous or harmful to their skin, respiratory system, and overall health, then it’ll work.  If you’d like to know what substrates not to use, then check out this article here that I wrote for more information on that.

But, the reason why I say paper substrates have to be replaced more often is because they are thin and get soiled very easily.  This means unlike other substrates that soak up the soil more easily or don’t soak it up at all, such as rock type substrates, paper substrate can’t hold much soil before it starts ripping and tearing and therefore gives you even more of a mess to clean up.

Not only that, but it’s not pleasing to the eyes.  And while that may seem like a bad reason not to pick it, many owners take pride in the way their leopard geckos tank looks.  But, no matter what though, safety should always come before looks.  So, if you don’t mind cleaning out your tank more than usual, then paper substrates are a good choice opposed to one that’s more dangerous just to make the tank look good.

What a Deep Clean Consists Of

Spot cleaning is important and all, but from time to time, you’ll need to really get in there and thoroughly clean out their tank to eliminate all bacteria and smells that may be lingering around within their enclosure.

To keep it short, here’s what you’ll need to do in a deep clean:

  • Remove Substrate
  • Replace Substrate
  • Remove Decorations
  • Remove Equipment
  • Clean Every Tank Wall

While that doesn’t sound like a lot of work, it can be when considering everything that’s in the average tank.  Because this is a deep clean, it’s best to take some time out and make sure you’re doing it whenever you’re not busy or have plans coming up simply because it can take a little while to get everything cleaned out and sterilized.

Also, because your leopard gecko will come in contact with just about every crease and crevis within the tank over the course of a month, you’ll want to make sure you have gloves on to protect yourself from catching any bacteria from fecal matter.

They are clean pets, but it’s impossible not to naturally spread germs when you’re living in an enclosed area for long amounts of time, so make sure you’re staying safe and keeping a pair of latex or non-latex gloves on at all times while you perform your deep clean.

If you’d like to know the gloves I use, then check them out here on Amazon.  If you’re allergic to latex, then I recommend getting another type of glove that won’t cause you to have a reaction to them.  I only use latex, so, unfortunately, I can’t suggest another type of glove at the moment, but there are plenty of alternatives out there that will do just as well for a job like this.

Whatever you do though, just make sure they’re disposable.  It might make more sense to just buy gloves that you can use over and over again, but to me, that just screams “bacteria party“.  Bacteria multiples at a rapid rate, so having something that just sits there and harbors more of it is not only nasty but unsafe as well.

And because we’re dealing with feces, I don’t think it’s a good idea to buy a pair of gloves and wash them over and over again in the washer where you wash your other clothes as this is a good way to spread bacteria around as well.

If you use extremely hot water for each load, then maybe you’ll be safer, but it just seems like less of a hassle to just buy gloves that you can use once and just throw away to avoid being at risk of catching something altogether.

In addition to your gloves, you’ll also want a good hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial handsoap as well.  I get those two items on Amazon as well, but because there are so many different options to choose from, I say pick whatever you feel is the best option for you.  As long as it kills bacteria, you’re good to go.

The Importance of Keeping Clean

The reason why you should always be keeping clean when handling your leopard geckos equipment is because if you don’t, you could get sick.  And not sick as in the common cold sick, but sick as in vomiting with a high temperature sick.

Now, I’m not trying to scare you because it’s not as serious as I’m making it seem, but it’s still very important that hands and all areas where your leopard gecko or its equipment have come in contact with are thoroughly sterilized and wiped down so that you don’t run the risk of catching the germs that they spread through their fecal matter.

These germs can get into your system, make you feel really crummy for a while, and can even be passed down onto other people and animals if not careful enough.  So, before you pick up that pile of poo and think you can skip on washing and sanitizing your hands, please don’t.

It’s too easy to catch germs from other creatures, and if you don’t take the extra few minutes to make sure you’re getting rid of them, you could potentially end up feeling pretty bad for days to come as a result.  

Just remember to put on your gloves, pick the feces and urate up with a paper towel, sanitize your hands afterward with a good bottle of hand sanitizer, and wash your hands thoroughly and you won’t have to worry about catching anything.

Also, if you’d like to learn more about the bacteria that I’m talking about that can be caught if the right steps for sanitation aren’t being taken, then click here to check out the article I wrote on it so that hopefully it will give you a better understanding of why it’s so important to keep clean.

Conclusion

Luckily, unlike other pets, leopard geckos don’t need constant maintenance in order to keep clean.  While spot cleaning can be a chore if you have a leopard gecko that loves to poop, it’s not too bad to deal with when you only have to clean out their tank about once a month.

As long as you’re keeping everything clean and not being overly sloppy and uncareful when handling their poop and equipment, then cleaning out there tank should be a breeze.  Just be sure to be mindful of what you’re touching and realize that their fecal matter does carry a certain bacteria in it that could potentially be caught and make you feel not so good if it somehow gets into your system.