How to Clean Your Bird Feeders

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ahhh, spring is in the air.  Windows are being opened, wintering animals have started coming out to explore, and migratory birds have started to make their treks to summer breeding grounds.
While many of us take this time to do a good ‘Spring Cleaning’ in our houses, it is also the perfect time to make your feathered friends healthy and happy by cleaning your bird feeding stations as well. 

It doesn’t have to be an arduous job.  If you clean your feeders regularly (ideally at least once a month), there should be very little built up dirt, mold, or mildew to contend with making clean up quick and painless.  If you have left them too long, you may notice that your bird activity may have slowed or even that some birds have become sick.  If this is the case a little more time and elbow grease will be needed.  However, getting your feeders clean and in tip top shape will be worth it to you and your feathered friends.

Here are some tips on how to clean and maintain bird feeders and surrounding areas.

Seed Bird Feeders

1. When cleaning your feeders, it is always best to wear rubber gloves if possible.  If not, ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly upon completion.

2. Use a brush to remove dirt, and any visible mold.

3. Using a 10% Bleach Solution soak feeders for a minimum of 10 minutes to help loosen grease and dirt build-up.  Using your brush again, clean feeders thoroughly (a long-handled bottle brush works well on tube feeders). A toothbrush can be a handy tool for scrubbing the feeding ports and other small parts.  Brushes designed specifically for cleaning bird feeders are the best choice.

4.  When all dirt, grease and mold have been removed, rinse all parts of the feeder thoroughly for at least 15 seconds in very warm, clean water to be sure all chemical residue is removed.

5.  It is important to completely air-dry feeders before reassembling and filling with feed.  Any remaining moisture could lead to mold and mildew that can cause illness and rotten, unhealthy seed.

6. Take time while cleaning the feeder to inspect it for sharp points or edges that can scratch or cut birds. Small wounds can open the door for bacteria and viruses to infect otherwise healthy birds.

If possible purchase bird feeders that are easily taken apart for cleaning.

Easy Clean Feeders

Bird Feeder and Birdbath Brushes

Below and around...

The ground can also be a “bird feeder” either by design or from seed that has fallen out as birds dine at feeders above.  Many birds actually prefer to forage on the ground for their dinner. These areas too, should be cleaned at least once a month to remove the build-up of hulls, uneaten seeds, and other waste to reduce mold and disease for ground-feeding birds, keep domestic pets safe, and help prevent rodent infestations.

1. You can use a rake, broom, shovel, or even a workshop vacuum to remove the waste under feeders.

2. Hose down the area and dispose of the waste appropriately.

3. Periodically moving bird feeders can also reduce the accumulation of waste in one area. (Don’t be alarmed if it takes your birds a day or two to figure out where the feeders went! ;))

Nectar Feeders

Nectar Feeders should be cleaned every time the solution is changed, (during extreme heat - every 1-3 days, in cooler temperatures, weekly), especially if the solution appears cloudy.  Although the nectar solution may appear fine, if it starts to ferment, it can have a deadly effect on the hummingbirds, causing their tongues to swell and in turn, starving them to death.

Purchase a hummingbird feeder that is easy to take apart and clean. Clean following the same instructions as for seed feeders.


Remember to keep you birdbaths clean as well.  Changing water every day or two is the best practice.  When necessary, use a brush to clean out any dirt or algae from the birdbath and give it a rinse before refilling. Purchasing a water wiggler or dripper can keep the water in your birdbath moving, making it attractive to birds, as well as preventing mosquitoes from laying eggs.

Tip: The easiest way to clean bird feeders and birdbaths, is to clean them regularly, then the clean up will be minimal. 

Having clean feeding and watering stations will attract more birds to your yard for you to enjoy...and in the end...this is why we feed the birds. :)

Leanne LeBlanc

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