Joan asked: We have a hanging bird feeder, the kind with the clear plastic tube. I would like to know how to clean it.
If not maintained, bird feeders can develop mold and bacteria growth. This spreads to the birds that eat the birdseed and can then contaminate other birds. This can be prevented with a simple cleaning.
You Will Need:
- Rubber gloves
- Stiff brush or salt
- Bucket or sink
- Soft towel or cloth
Steps to Clean and Sanitize the Bird Feeder:
- Wear rubber gloves for protection from the bleach as well as any germs that may be present on the feeder.
- Fill a bucket or sink with one part bleach and nine parts hot water.
- Remove any remaining birdseed from the feeder and disassemble as needed to fit all of the parts into the water. If you are having trouble disassembling your bird feeder, look online for the user manual for your particular model to better understand if and how your feeder can be taken apart. If you are unable to disassemble the feeder and it does not fit in the sink or bucket, a trash bag can be used instead. Be sure not to use more bleach than instructed though; a good guide is to check the box of your trash bags to find out how many gallons each bag holds, then adjust the amount of bleach needed based on how much you need to fill up the bag (1/4 full, 1/2 full, etc.).
- Once submerged, use a stiff brush to scrub away any debris that may be present both inside and outside of the feeder. Smaller brushes will be needed for smaller feeders. Old toothbrushes work well for these. If your feeder can’t be disassembled and you have trouble scrubbing inside it, use a bottle brush or other long-handled brush, or pour in some salt and shake the feeder – the salt will act as an abrasive and do the scrubbing for you.
- Clean the perches, lids, feeding ports, platforms, etc. All areas should be disinfected and any bird droppings washed away.
- Once all parts of the feeder have been cleaned, rinse each piece thoroughly.
- For the best rinse, hold each piece under clean, running water for at least 10 seconds.
- Dry each piece completely with a soft cloth.
- Allow them to air dry until all moisture is gone.
- Reassemble and refill the bird feeder for use.
Additional Tips and Advice
- The frequency of the cleanings will depend on the use of the feeder. Most feeders should be cleaned at least monthly. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned each time the nectar is changed.
- There are commercial bird feeder cleaners and disinfectants as well. These can be found at pet supply stores.
- If using dish detergent to clean the bird feeder, use a small amount of unscented detergent. Be sure to rinse the feeder completely.
- In addition to cleaning the feeder, check the surrounding areas. Remove any rotten fruit from trees, and consider covering the areas below with mulch.