Animal Care/Land hermit crab cleaning
Each new land hermit crab assessory should be cleaned before use. To avoid attracting insects, to avoid mold/fungus, and to avoid odors, the entire habitat must be cleaned regularly.
Water dishes should be emptied and refilled every 24 to 48 hours (bubblers can increase that time). Swap out the sponges on a weekly basis. Rinse the sponge well in dechlorinated water, squeeze it dry, let it sun dry completely, and then microwave for 45 seconds to sanitize it.
Feces or spilled food on the surface should be scooped up on a daily basis. On a monthly or bi-monthly basis, completely change the substrate (small habitats) or just remove the top 0.5 inch of substrate (larger habitats). In the latter case, add more substrate when the level gets too low or change the substrate at that time.
Do not clean the habitat or its assessories with anything stronger than vinegar and water (rinse well). Soaking in salt water can remove a lot of buildup from assessories and kill mold. Sea salt and baking soda can be used for scrubbing, but may scratch plexi-glass.
Depending on the materials contained in an assessory, baking, boiling, steaming, or microwaving can be used for sterilization. When microwaving wood, put it in a slightly ventilated, ziplock bag with some water to avoid fires. Diluted, pure vanilla essence has an antibacterial effect and will add a pleasant smell.
To reuse substrate, rinse, stir, and pour off the dirty water until the water is clear. To kill mold and fungus, completely dry the substrate in the sun or oven bake thin layers (0.5") at 150°C (300°F) until dry (20-30 minutes or more). Oven baking at this temperature is sufficient to kill any mites. Alternating between two sets of substrate simplifies this whole process.
CAUTION: Coral is fragile so just pour boiling water over it to sterilize. Some plastic items like exercise balls will melt if microwaved or boiled. Steam those items or allow boiling water to cool a few degrees before pouring it over them.