Chinchillas are unique in that they bathe in a way that is very different from other pets. Because of their dense fur, a chinchilla cannot get wet. If they do get wet, their fur would clump and mat and not be able to dry thoroughly. Because of this, chinchillas should never be given a traditional bath with water.
Chinchillas mostly groom themselves by using what is called a dust bath. To give a chinchilla dust bath, you just need to put chinchilla dust or sand in a pan or dust bath house and let your chinchilla go to town. They will roll around in the dust, which will absorb any oils on their hair. Generally, they only need a dust bath 1-3 times a week, though you can increase the amount in humid weather and decrease during dry winter weather. Too much dust can dry out a chinchilla’s skin.
Offering a dust bath is not only an important part of caring for chinchillas, watching a chinchilla take a dust bath is also super fun. They roll around and shake their bodies like they’re having the best time. Check out this cutie enjoying a messy chinchilla sand bath [source]:
If you’re getting set up with chinchilla supplies for the first time, here are some recommended chinchilla dust and bath houses and pans.
Chinchilla Dust Bath
You should always use store bought chinchilla dust or sand for bathing your pet. It’s specifically made for chinchillas to bathe in. Do not use dust or sand made for other types of exotic animals or pets. Do not use decorative or playground sand. (Many people will refer to it as “chinchilla sand bath” when really the texture of a good chinchilla bath dust is much finer.)
In the wild, chinchillas roll around in volcanic ash and dirt in the Andes mountains to clean their fur. For pet chinchillas, a good quality dust bath is made from ground natural volcanic minerals, known commonly as pumice or aluminum silicate. You want to look for a dust that has no additives or “filler” materials that may stick to your chinchilla’s fur or scratch their skin. Do not use scented bath dust because it can cause respiratory problems for your pet chinchilla.
Chinchilla dust is easy to buy at most pet stores or to order online. Here are some recommended brands to consider.
Oxbow Blue Cloud Chinchilla Dust Bath
Made by the trusted exotic pet brand Oxbow, this chinchilla sand is a great option for your pet. This bath dust is made from all natural, 100% pumice stone, which makes it a perfect option for your pet chinchilla (and also a great option for degus, hamsters, and gerbils). Blue Cloud dust is the prefered type of dust for most chinchilla breeders and long time owners.
Oxbow uses a sustainable collection process for their dust, meaning there is not strip mining, explosives, or tunneling used. That also means you can feel good about using this product.
Your chinchilla will happily roll around and bathe themselves every time you offer Blue Cloud chinchilla dust.
This jar includes 2.5 lbs of dust.
Blue Beauty Dust for Chinchilla Baths
This chinchilla sand bath from Lixit is another sustainable option. It is mined from the Blue Beauty Mine in Southern California and made from a fine aluminum silicate powder. The texture is so fine that it easily shakes out of your chinchilla’s fur.
Though it is not Blue Cloud dust like the Oxbow brand, many long time chinchilla pet owners use it and say the quality is good. So if you are not particular about using Blue Cloud dust, this is a great option for your chin.
This jar contains 3 lbs of chinchilla dust and a scoop.
Kaytee Chinchilla Dust for Bathing
Kaytee is a very common brand found in national pet stores and they make a good quality chinchilla dust. Their dust is made from pure ground pumice, but some chinchilla owners feel the quality is not as good as Blue Cloud dust. Others think it works just fine, especially for a cheaper price and the ease of buying it.
The jar contains 2.5 lbs of dust.
Note: Kaytee also sells a bath SAND in many pet stores. You should never buy the bath sand for your chinchilla. Always get the chinchilla dust which will have a very fine texture.
Chinchilla Dust Bath House or Pan
For a dust bath, you can use many different types of containers. The main thing you want to look out for is that the container is stable and cannot tip over. Dust bath houses are good and will help contain some of the dust mess. You can also use glass and crock containers that are large enough for your chinchilla to fit in and roll around.
Here are some suggested dust bath containers that owners use for their chinchilla care:
Kaytee Chinchilla Dust Bath House
This cute dust bath house from Kaytee is a great option for your chinchilla. The house is fully enclosed except for an opening on the front for your chinchilla to hop in and out. It helps contain the dust so your chinchilla won’t make a big mess.
The bath house is made out of a sturdy plastic and comes in a variety of bright colors. There are also two hooks on the back so you can attach it to the side of your chin’s cage while they’re using it (but do not leave it in the cage when bath time is over!).
Dimensions: 9-Inch long, 9-1/4-inch wide, 8-1/2-inch high
Check out a video of this chinchilla dust bath house in use.
Jolly Bath House for Chinchillas
Similar in design to the Kaytee bath house, the Jolly version keeps dust contained while your chin uses it. The bonus feature is that it comes in two pieces, so you can take it apart to easily clean it or take your chinchilla out.
Made from plastic, the top is see through so you can watch your chinchilla take their dust bath. There are also clips on the back to attach it to cage bars (just don’t leave it in the cage all the time).
Available Colors: green, pink, white
Dimensions: L22.5 × W20 × H18.6 cm
Lixit Chinchilla Dust Bath
This unique design from Lixit allows your chinchilla to have their bath in a pod-like tub. The removeable lid helps to keep the dust contained so your chin makes less of a mess. Both peices are made of sturdy plastic and easily come apart for cleaning and storage.
Your chinchilla can easily groom itself in this bath house while looking like a chin traveling from the future!
Dimensions: 14″ by 9″ by 6″
Check out a video of this dust bath in use.
Plastic Litter Pan
A great budget option that you can find at any petstore is a plastic litter pan. These are usually sold in the cat section and come in a variety of sizes and colors. The sides are higher than most crocks or pans, but since it has an open top dust will still go flying when your chin rolls around in it. If mess is a concern for you, try one of the bath houses listed above instead.
Because you can get them in so many sizes, this is a great option for households with multiple chinchillas who want to bathe at the same time. The jumbo size has room for everyone.
Sizes: small, medium, large, jumbo
Glass Slant Bowl Vase
There are a lot of pros to using a vase, terrarium, or glass fishbowl for your chinchilla dust bath. The glass is heavy so it’s hard for the chinchilla to tip it over. Since it’s made of glass, that also means your chin won’t be able to chew it up. It also looks cool on display and when they use it.
The angle cut on this bowl makes it great for chinchilla’s because they can easily hop in and out and there’s still high enough walls to keep most of the dust contained. Make sure to get a glass container that is large enough for your chinchilla to roll around in. There are plenty of glass terrariums and fishbowls available online or at home and garden stores.
Watch a video where a chinchilla uses a glass vase for their dust bath.
Pie Dish or Baking Pan
This is an easy option that you may already have available in your house (though I would recommend making sure you have one that is dedicated solely to chinchilla bath time). Baking dishes, especially pie pans, are great to use for a chinchilla bath. They are deep enough to hold enough dust for bathing and are easy to hop in and out of.
Not only is usually a baking dish affordable, but they’re easy to clean. You can just dump out the dust and toss the pan in the dishwasher. Metal pans and glass pans are both great options for chinchillas. Note: glass pans are heavier which makes it harder for chinchillas to accidentally tip them over and spill the chinchilla dust everywhere.
How to Give a Chinchilla Dust Bath
One to three times a week, take your preferred dust container or bath house and add about an inch of clean bath sand or dust. You can offer this to your chinchilla during exercise time outside the cage or inside their cage. Evenings are recommended as the best time for grooming because this is when chinchillas are most active.
Leave the dust bath available to your chinchilla for 5-10 minutes. This will give them enough time to roll around in the dust. Make sure you remove the container and clean up any excess dust when they’re done. If you give the chinchilla unlimited access to their bath they may overuse it, sleep in the container, or even use it as a litter box.
As long as the dust is clean and not clumpy, you can reuse it for multiple baths. Make sure to scoop out any poops that may be deposited in there before offering it to your chinchilla.
If you have more than one chinchilla, they can bathe together. You’ll want to get a bigger bath pan for them, like a litter box or a baking sheet. Watching multiple chins groom together is 100x as fun. Check out this cute tutorial video to see an example: