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Is It Safe To Clean Bird Bowls With Dishwashing Detergent?

Cleaners can hurt a bird's sensitive respiratory systems, so be careful what you clean your bird's bowls with.

Susan Chamberlain

Parakeet bathing in water bowl

Q: Are dishwashing detergents bad for birds?
A: Automatic dishwashing formulas may contain phosphates and chlorine, which could be potentially harmful to your bird. It is unlikely that your pet would be adversely affected from having its dishes washed in the dishwasher as long as the dishes are not cracked, crazed or otherwise porous, and detergent residue is thoroughly rinsed from the bowls.

There are several ways toxins find their way into your bird’s system: ingestion, inhalation and absorption. Do not permit your bird to come into direct contact with dishwashing detergent or other household chemicals. Inhalation of powders or vapors or ingestion of the product would likely cause some adverse effects. Skin contact with powder or liquid preparations may result in blisters or irritation.

According to Professor Anthea Stavroulakis who teaches at Brooklyn Community College in New York, it is impossible to issue a blanket warning about dishwashing preparations because any potential toxins would likely be specific to the company and the chemicals used in the dishwashing formula.

Check out Seventh Generation Natural Automatic Dishwasher Detergent Free and Clear. It is non-toxic and biodegradable and is chlorine and phosphate free. You can find out more about this product at their website. Bear in mind that your bird must not be permitted to eat or play with any household chemicals or cleaning preparations, including fabric softener sheets. I also advise against using these sheets when drying your bird’s cage cover, as your bird may be sensitive to any chemical residue or scent remaining in the fabric.

Find out more about birds and toxins:

Keep Your Pet Bird's Air Toxin-Free
What Are Parrots Allergic To?

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Posted: October 24, 2013, 12:15 p.m. PDT

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