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How To Wash And Disinfect Parrot Water Bottles & Crocks

Regularly clean and sanitize your bird’s water containers to keep its water fresh.

By Rebecca Sweat

Bird Water Containers
Clean and sanitize your bird's water bowls and crocks once a week.   Courtesy Claire Risica, Nevada

There’s no question that pet birds need a regular supply of clean water. But even the purest water in the world will be bad for your birds if you allow the water containers to become dirty or contaminated.

Veterinarians generally recommend water bowls and crocks be washed with warm, soapy water on a daily basis — normally when you change the water. Scour the corners, nooks and crannies of the water dish using a small scrub brush, kitchen scratch pad made for pots and pans or an old toothbrush (that has been disinfected first with bleach to get out the “people germs”).

In addition, once a week put the water bowls and crocks in the dishwasher to sanitize them with hot water. (Be sure to first wash the bird bowls in the sink with soap and water to get off the slime and crud, and then put the bowls in the dishwasher with the dishes you eat off of.)

Likewise, water bottles should also be washed every day — when you change the water. Use a bottle brush to run down through the drinking tube and inside the bottle with warm, soapy water. You might want to use a double-brush that has a regular-sized bottle brush on one end and a smaller, tube-sized brush on the other end. You can also use pipe cleaners to clean inside the tube.

“It’s important that you clean out the water bottle real well to make sure it’s not slick or slimy inside,” said Florida veterinarian Gregory Harrison, DVM. “If you can feel slime, that’s bacterial build-up, and you need to make sure you get all that out.”

Once a week completely take apart the water bottle and put all the parts — tube, bottle, stopper — in the dishwasher to disinfect them with hot water.

For the average pet owner, no stronger disinfecting is needed than to run water bowls and bottles through the dishwasher. However, if you’ve got a boarding facility, pet store, bird rescue or veterinary clinic where you’re constantly bringing in new animals (and potentially new viruses and bacteria) or if you’ve got an open aviary with a lot of birds coming and going, then you may want to disinfect the water containers weekly with bleach or a Quaternary ammonia compound.

Follow the directions on the label of the disinfectant, so that you dilute it properly.

“People tend to make the solution too strong and then practically kill themselves and their birds if they’re in the vicinity with the fumes,” noted Missouri veterinarian Julie Burge, DVM. 

Rinse water containers thoroughly after you’ve disinfected them. “You don’t want your birds taking in or drinking the noxious, toxic chlorine gas from the heavy duty chlorine cleaner,” Burge said.


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How To Wash And Disinfect Parrot Water Bottles & Crocks

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Reader Comments
This is a good remimder.
Dee, Sandy Valley, NV
Posted: 1/14/2011 8:50:57 PM
Every bird owner should read this article and do as it says. I have just switched my birds to a water bottle and it is so much cleaner than a regular dish or bowl. I have two dunkers in my flock and everyday I would have to scrub all the floating pellets and even their feathers when they would decide to take a bath in their water bowl. Especially in the summer heat the slime would be disgusting. Now the water bottles are great and there is no more dunking going on. I just wash out the water bottles in hot water and put them in the dishwasher once a week to make sure all germs are killed. And my babies have a clean source to drink from.
Rose, Marstons Mills, MA
Posted: 10/20/2010 3:30:29 PM
This was very helpful! I've read some crazy, very involved ways to clean the water bottles. You've summed it up for me and my baby Bella appreciates the info, too!!
Heather, Coal Center, PA
Posted: 8/4/2010 12:26:32 PM
twice a day depends on how messy they are that day!
:>)
renee, crystal lake, IL
Posted: 7/29/2010 12:46:05 PM
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