How to Clean a Leopard Gecko Tank (And How Often)

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If you want your leopard gecko to stay healthy, you must regularly clean its tank. 

There are three types of cleaning you should carry out. Spot cleaning – just a regular quick clean. Weekly cleaning – a more comprehensive clean. Deep cleaning – a more intense and thorough clean of your geckos tank. 

We will go over how to carry out each of these cleans to make sure your leopard gecko is always living in a healthy environment. 

How often to clean your leopard geckos tank

  • Spot clean your leopard gecko’s tank at least twice a week – once a day is ideal.
  • Carry out a more thorough weekly clean
  • Deep clean your gecko’s tank once a month.

Find out more about each type of clean and how to carry them out below.

How to spot clean your leopard gecko’s tank

Since leopard geckos defecate in their tanks, you should spot clean them regularly. Fortunately, spot cleaning only takes a few minutes. You only need two things to do it – a pair of gloves and some paper towels. Once you gather these, follow the steps below:

Wear gloves

Since leopard geckos carry some bacteria that can make you sick, you must always wear gloves while spot-cleaning.

Search for where your leopard gecko poops

Leopard geckos usually choose one corner of their tank and then defecate there repeatedly. So if you identify this spot early, cleaning becomes easy. You can even line that corner with a few paper towels to make things easier.

Dispose of the feces and other particles

Once you find where your leopard gecko defecates, pick up their poop using paper towels. Since this poop is usually dry, scooping it up isn’t messy. Poop isn’t the only thing you have to worry about, though. You’ll also need to remove any uneaten food or shed skin lying in the tank. 

Afterward, get rid of your gloves if they’re disposable ones. If they’re those reusable rubber ones, you’ll need to disinfect them after every use. 

How to Weekly Clean Your Leopard Geckos Tank

Apart from spot cleaning, it would be best to comprehensively wash your leopard gecko’s tank once a week – you can choose a specific day to do this every week. For your weekly cleaning, you’ll need:

  • A bucket 
  • Hot/warm water
  • Dish soap/disinfectant
  • A holding cage
  • Sponges
  • Paper towels
  • Gloves 

After collecting these items, follow the steps below:

Remove the leopard gecko from the tank

To avoid disturbing your leopard gecko and causing them unnecessary stress, always remove them from the tank before doing your weekly cleaning. 

You can place them in a holding cage for the duration of your cleaning. Remember to wear a pair of gloves before doing this, though.

Soak your gecko’s bowls 

At this point, rinse your gecko’s food, water, and calcium bowls, disinfect them, and then soak them in a bucket full of soapy hot water. 

Remove waste and wipe surfaces

Remove any uneaten worms, poop, or decaying plants from the tank. 

If you use a reptile carpet, remove it and wash it – you don’t need to do this if you use a loose substrate, though. 

If you use vinyl or tile flooring, wipe it to remove any debris, and then use a sponge to clean it using soapy water or a reptile disinfectant. 

To make the soapy water or disinfectant more effective, spray it on the surface and leave it there for a few minutes before returning to scrub. 

Once you’re done scrubbing, rinse the flooring with warm water and wipe away excess water before leaving it to dry. Afterward, wipe down your gecko’s toys, rocks, sticks, and fixtures. 

Wash the bowls 

Scrub the soaked bowls using a sponge and rinse them with clean water. Once you’re done, leave them to air dry. 

Return the bowls and gecko

Once the tank’s flooring, accessories, and bowls are completely dry, return everything to its usual position, including your leopard gecko.  

How to deep clean your leopard gecko’s tank

You need to deep clean your leopard gecko’s tank every once in a while. This type of cleaning is more thorough than weekly and spot cleaning. As such, it takes much more time. For a tank deep clean, you’ll need:

  • A bucket 
  • Hot/warm water
  • Dish soap
  • Reptile-safe disinfectant
  • A holding cage
  • Sponges
  • Paper towels
  • Gloves 
  • Vinegar 
  • Bleach (optional)

Also, follow the steps below:

Remove your leopard gecko from the tank

Before you do any cleaning, wear a pair of gloves and remove your leopard gecko from the tank – place it in a holding cage instead. 

If you don’t have a holding cage, you can use a plastic bin with holes on its sides to let in air. Remember to close it with a tight-fitting lid afterward – your leopard gecko may escape otherwise. 

Also, place some paper towels at the bottom of the bin. If you’re planning to use harsh chemicals to clean, you should also move the bin to another room. After all, leopard geckos are sensitive to chemical fumes. 

Unplug all the electrical appliances 

After whisking your leopard gecko away, you next need to unplug all the electrical appliances that your reptile uses and let them cool. 

These include lighting lamps, heat mats, and heat lamps. Leaving them plugged in as you wash the tank can expose their wires to water, causing short-circuiting. 

Remove everything from the tank

At this point, you have to remove bowls, toys, and other accessories from your leopard gecko’s tank. Remove the substrate and toss it in the trash. 

You can use a brush and scooper to remove it from the tank if it’s a loose substrate. 

Remember not to place the other items you removed from the tank directly on surfaces in your home, though – they can spread bacteria all over your home. Instead, place them in a bucket or on top of some paper towels. 

Wash and disinfect the tank

Once the tank is empty, wash it with some warm soapy water – use a sponge to scrub it from top to bottom. You can either use dish soap for this purpose or a specialized soap for gecko cages. 

When you’re satisfied with the amount of scrubbing you’ve done, rinse the cage thoroughly and dry it using paper towels. 

Afterward, spray your disinfectant all over it and let it sit for around 30 minutes – read its packaging to know exactly how long you need to wait. 

Finally, thoroughly rinse the tank and let it dry. 

If you don’t want to use a disinfectant, you can use a steam cleaner or a bleach solution. To make the latter, add one part bleach to nine parts water and mix thoroughly. 

Wash and disinfect tank accessories

First of all, rinse your gecko’s bowls and then apply some disinfectant to them. Give the disinfectant a few minutes (as per the given instructions) to work, and then soak the bowls in warm soapy water. 

Alternatively, you can soak them in a mixture of water and vinegar. After a few minutes, scrub these bowls using a sponge, then rinse them thoroughly before laying them out to dry. 

Avoid doing this washing in your kitchen sink though – opt for a bucket instead. 

Bowls aside, your Leo’s rocks will also need to be disinfected. Once this is done, boil them in a pot of hot water for around 30 minutes. 

As for ropes, wooden branches, and other porous materials, you should disinfect and rinse them before baking them in an oven for 30 minutes at 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Make sure you also wash and disinfect plants, bedding, caves, and anything else that is usually in your gecko’s habitat. 

Leaving anything unclean will make it easy for dirt and bacteria to spread in the tank again. 

Don’t forget to rinse everything in the tank either – any leftover soap or disinfectant can easily end up in your leopard gecko’s digestive system. 

Place everything back in the tank

Once everything is dry, place a new substrate in the tank and put everything back as it was before. 

Afterward, bring your leopard gecko back to its tank. Once you’ve done this, remove your gloves and disinfect them if they are reusable ones – otherwise throw them in the trash. 

Finally, wash your hands thoroughly before you do anything else.  

How to clean a new leopard gecko tank 

Whenever you buy a new leopard gecko tank, you need to clean it before placing your reptile in it. To do this you need the following supplies:

  • Dish soap
  • Hot water
  • Reptile-safe disinfectant/vinegar/bleach
  • Paper towels
  • Bowl  
  • Bucket
  • Water conditioner

Once you’ve gathered these supplies, follow the steps below:

Related: What Size Leopard Gecko Tank Should You Choose?

Wash and disinfect the empty tank 

Use a solution of water and dish soap to thoroughly wash the tank – use a sponge to scrub it down. 

Afterward, rinse it severally and then dry it using paper towels. Use vinegar, bleach solution, or a store-bought reptile-friendly disinfectant to kill any bacteria on the tank. 

Apply your chosen product all over the tank, both on the inside and outside. Let this sit for around 30 minutes, then rinse the tank thoroughly. Once this is done, let the tank air dry. 

Wash and disinfect tank accessories

Before you place bowls and accessories in your gecko’s tank, wash them with warm soapy water, disinfect them and let them dry.   

Rinse and condition sand substrates

If you’re planning to use sand substrate in your gecko’s tank, you’ll have to rinse and condition it beforehand. To do this, place the sand in a bowl, pour hot water on it, stir the mixture, and then let it settle. 

Once the sand settles, pour out the water and repeat the process twice. Add a water conditioner to the water in the last round of rinsing. 

These chemicals usually remove heavy metals and chlorine from the sand. 

Fortunately, they can easily be found in most pet stores, particularly in the aquarium section. And using them is easy – you just have to follow the instructions given by the manufacturer. 

Once you’re done using this chemical, dry your sand. Spread it on a tray and place it in the oven for 30 minutes at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Set up the tank

Once everything is dry, set up your leopard gecko’s tank as you wish. 

Final thoughts 

When it comes down to it, regularly spot cleaning your leopard gecko’s tank and performing scheduled weekly cleans will make deep cleaning easier and faster. 

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