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Formicarium & Insert Cleaning Guide

This is a perusal preference; some people like to use a formicarium, or test tube inserts only once, and some like to reuse the equipment as much as possible; some designs favour such ideas more than others.


Cleaning your formicarium and inserts is very easy; you may be able to reuse your equipment a few times if done carefully. Do it once your ants move out of the setup, so it’s ready for subsequent use.

Formicarium with light dirt and debris

Make sure to wear personal protective equipment before handling any cleaning substances:

  1. Removable glass panels carefully; use a gentle pull to detach the magnets.

  2. Gently remove all the dry and loose debris with a bristle paint brush; apply very slight pressure to avoid cracking and breaking the mineral substrate.

  3. Using a small amount of distilled water, wet the substrate and rinse excess water and debris; you can use a spray bottle.

  4. Brush the walls to soften debris further using 3% USP hydrogen peroxide and the brush. The nest should end up soaked and bubbly with peroxide.

  5. Once done, we recommend using 3% USP hydrogen peroxide and a very soft brush to clean the grout on the walls; it can be purchased at any pharmacy. The mildly abrasive properties of hydrogen peroxide act as a gentle, non-toxic bleach.

  6. If you have any hard-to-remove stains, you can also let it sit submerged in a 50/50% solution of distilled water and hydrogen peroxide for 10 to 20 minutes; once done and ready, rinse with distilled water and let it air dry for at least 24 hours without the ramble glass before it is ready for its subsequent use.

  7. The glass can be cleaned with soap and water using a soft sponge or towel, and vinegar can remove calcification or mineral buildup.

Do not use any soaps or acids like vinegar to clean your mineral substrate as such acids eat away the lime, calcium and other minerals in the porous material; they could also leave toxic residues if not rinsed enough or carefully.


The process may not restore the substrate to a brand-new look but will destroy all organic materials and refresh the porous material for another use.


Alternatively, some users have reported success gently soaking the substrate in a minimal amount of bleach (chlorine) diluted in water. The issue is that you must rinse and soak the formicarium multiple times in clean water, then let it dry out for days to ensure no toxic residues are active and ventilate well. Therefore, we do not recommend this method.

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