Cleaning exo terra sand mat substrate...

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Hatchling Member
Hi everyone! Got my first beardie last week, I have the exo terra desert sand mat in the viv. This mat is thick, heavy and rocky, with no directions whatsoever on how to clean it properly. Should I spot clean with chlorohexidine? Is that safe? Should I wash it in a tub? I can't imagine it would dry out quickly. Or Am I supposed to completely replace it every other week? I just read online that Sani chips are a great choice for bearded dragons? Couldn't this cause possible impaction? Anyone have any experience with this substrate?

Thanks everyone!


Sub-Adult Member
Grats on your first beardie!
If your beardie is young age i would stay away from any type of sand just IMO. I first got repticarpet for mine and noticed a few things for one, the cleaning was horrendous and two, his tiny claws would snag between the fabrics. I decided to switch to ceramic tiling and couldn't of been more happy :D Everything made it so easy for cleanup and naturally files their nails down. I have not used exo terra sand mat but I would think that over time and use little pieces would come off and as we all know beardies lick everything as its their way to "explore". In the long run, i would change out to ceramic tiling or self adhesive liners. I got my tiling done for $9 and i have 36" x 18" x 18" terrarium. Its definitely worth it.

CooperDragon Sicko
Staff member
Some folks use the sand mats but have reported trouble keeping them clean. I would probably try spot cleaning with a vinegar spray and an old toothbrush then wiping grime clear then spraying with F10SC to sanitize. I'm not sure how well they wear over time but it's something to keep an eye on. I would replace it if a lot of it starts to crumble or come apart but I wouldn't worry too much about a little bit.

I disagree with LLL about the aspen chip substrate. I would think that could absorb moisture and harbor bacteria the way sand can. Especially nasty if your dragon poops in the tank. Their natural habitat is more like a hard packed clay and tall grass/bushes than loose substrate so as far as that goes, you're closer with the sand mat than a chip bedding. Short of going for a full bioactive substrate, I tend to stick to solid substrate that is easy to keep clean and sanitized.


Sub-Adult Member
The non adhesive shelf liner is the cheapest way to go. Cut it to the perfect size, it's so easy to clean and bugs can't get under it. You could go with some nice tile in the future.
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