9 Tips for responsible cache maintenance

Dear cache owner,

You hid me under this rock next to this waterfall two months ago. It’s a beautiful spot. I enjoy it very much. But now, after 25 finds, a rainstorm, and an encounter with a moose, my logbook is full, my trackables are damp, and I’m 15 feet away from where I should be. Help!

Your Cache

Sound familiar? Probably not, unless your cache has learned to communicate! Whether you’re a seasoned cache owner or about to hide your first cache, remember that maintaining your geocache is an essential part of cache ownership. Poorly maintained caches aren’t fun for anyone to find, and they risk being archived.

Luckily, we’ve made it easy for you to learn the art of geocache maintenance. Follow these 9 tips and your geocache will be thanking you for days. (Or it would, if cache-to-human communication were advancing a little faster.)

1. It’s your job (and yours alone)

As the owner of a geocache, you are responsible for keeping your cache in good shape. Although kind geocachers may occasionally add a new logbook to a cache, or perhaps dry out your cache’s contents, you cannot rely on finders of your cache to do your job for you. As the cache owner, you know your cache better than anyone else.

2. Pay attention to logs

Every time someone logs your geocache, you’ll get an email about it with the text of the log included. Regular “Found It” or “Didn’t Find It” logs may contain hints about the state of your cache, and “Needs Maintenance” or “Needs Archived” logs definitely indicate a problem. These are common scenarios in which these logs appear:

  • A “Found It” log might mention that a logbook was full. Time to replace it!
  • A series of successive “Did Not Find” logs could mean your cache has moved or is missing.
  • A “Needs Maintenance” log means there’s a problem with your cache and you need to visit it. The issue may be simple (wet logbook) or serious (the cache container is damaged and needs to be replaced).
  • A “Needs Archived” log means something about the cache page, cache container, or cache location is no longer acceptable to be listed on Geocaching.com. This sort of log will send an alert a local cache reviewer, who will review the cache page and may take further action to disable or archive the cache.

3. Verify the coordinates

The first few logs on a newly published cache may note that the coordinates listed for the cache aren’t exactly correct. If you see these crop up, you’ll need to visit the cache location (with a GPS device) to collect accurate coordinates. Then you’ll need to update the coordinates on the listing.

4. Mark missing trackables as missing

When someone “drops” a trackable in your geocache online, the trackable will show up in your cache’s inventory. The inventory can be found in the column on the right side of the cache page. If you notice a trackable shows up in your cache’s inventory, but the trackable itself isn’t physically in the cache, you should mark the trackable as missing.

5. Keep the cache clean

Let’s face it…caches can get a little gross after a while, especially if they’re not watertight. And while a geocache should never be a receptacle for garbage… well, sometimes one geocacher’s trade item is another geocacher’s garbage. Be a good cache owner, and visit your cache regularly to make sure the contents are dry, appropriate, and actually interesting for other people to find. Need a bit of extra help? Visit Shop Geocaching for supplies to improve or maintain your cache.

6. Redesign the container if necessary

Sometimes a brilliant idea for a cool cache hide just doesn’t work in every location. If your cache has been hidden for a while and is constantly experiencing problems, think about changing the cache container. If that coffee can you were using isn’t actually watertight, replace it with a Tupperware or lock-n-lock that will actually keep the moisture out. If the pulley system you rigged keeps being blown into a tangled mess by the wind, think about creating a container in the same spot that’s closer to the ground.

7. Temporarily disable the cache

What happens if you’re aware of a problem with your cache, but can’t visit it until this weekend? You can temporarily disable your cache, so that other geocachers won’t try to visit it while it’s in a bad condition. But remember: this action is supposed to be temporary. Caches that have been disabled for a long time may be archived. Once you get your cache up and running again, you can enable it.

8. Log “Owner Maintenance”

If someone adds a “Needs Maintenance” log to your cache, you’ll see a red wrench icon appear next to your cache in lists. After you’ve done maintenance on your cache and solved the problem stated in the “Needs Maintenance” log, you’ll need to post an “Owner Maintenance” log on the cache. This will clear the red wrench icon, and indicate to other geocachers (and watchful reviewers!) that your cache is in good working order again.

9. Archive the cache

Sometimes life happens and you can no longer maintain your geocache. You’ll need to archive the geocache listing, which will permanently remove it from the geocaching.com website, or adopt the geocache out to someone else. You must also remove the physical geocache container if you archive it.

What are your tips for cache maintenance? Anything we missed? Comment below!


Alex is a Community Volunteer Support Coordinator at Geocaching HQ. When things get crazy, she sends in the big puns.
  • jmc66

    My tip for cache maintenance is to carry spare kit and if you find a cache that needs maintenance done on it, then do it. You are the one on the spot. Why log a NM for a CO to have to drive maybe 50 miles, or walk several miles to replace a log book, tip out some water or sharpen a pencil? Use some initiative and be a responsible and considerate cacher. The CO put the cache out for you to find and enjoy, what’s wrong with giving a little back to the game by helping to keep caches in the game?

  • Lisa Thestrup

    Thats a really good tip!!! I have never geocached but Im considering trying it out with my daughter over the summer (so I dont know what NM and CO means :-p) And your tip is really helpful, so I will make a little geocashe maintainance kit to bring along on our journey 🙂 Because you are absolutely right, they are there for US to enjoy, so it makes perfectly sense that we help take care of them for the next hunter to enjoy <3

  • GeoFerd

    I definitely carry spare frosting for this exact reason. I actually enjoy fixing up caches (in need) as much as I do finding them. My father (Geoizz) and I got into this together a couple years ago, and we are constantly replacing log books, cache containers, etc. sometimes we go searching for a cache JUST BECAUSE we’ve read logs on line that the cache needs replaced. We carry numerous sizes of containers that we have already painted and put geo labels on. I think cache maintenance is a fun part of this game, I like notifying co’s when we do this, and they are almost always responsive with gratitude. Cache on & carry spare parts I say! GeoFerd… :-}

  • Karen Kay Bunting

    NM = Needs Maintenance
    CO = Cache Owner

  • Spaceman

    The most ill-maintained caches I’ve experienced are:
    1. owned by people who don’t actively use the email account (address) that their caches logs show up on, thus they may rarely if ever read their caches logs. One owner I talked to said, “Oh, I haven’t checked on that email account for years”…seems irresponsible to me. Then they don’t adopt them out or archive them when they for some reason or another stop playing the game, and maintaining their caches.
    2. owned by people who own many caches. I think there should be a limit, so that QUALITY is more important than QUANTITY. Recently I tried to message and email a cache owner about his troubled cache. He never responded to either. I looked up his profile and discovered that he owned 3,000+ caches!! No wonder he never responded. He probably doesn’t have all of those cache logs coming in on his primarily-used email address or he would be inundated with perhaps hundreds of emails every day. “How does anyone maintain that many caches?” I wrote in my log, “I now know…they don’t!!” I concluded.

  • simon

    I thing cachec must be ddruie.