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Clean Bird Feeders the Right Way

Help keep backyard birds healthy by regularly cleaning your bird feeders.

Nikki Moustaki

hummingbird feeders
Clean your bird feeders regularly to prevent birds from spreading disease while gathering at feeders.
Excerpted from "Feeder Facts” in "Popular Birding Series: Backyard Birding,” published by I-5 Publishing, LLC.

Most bird feeders need cleaning about once a week, though some, like nectar and jelly bird feeders, require more regular cleaning. A good rule is to clean the bird feeder before you notice that it’s soiled – and always before refilling the food.

Birds also can spread disease while gathering at feeders, so regular disinfecting of bird feeders is a must.

Your backyard visitors can become very ill from ingesting moldy or rancid bird seed or suet. Birds also can spread disease while gathering at feeders, so regular disinfecting of bird feeders is a must. 

Here are 8 basic-cleaning solution steps on how to clean your bird feeders:

1) Fill a plastic tub or your sink with a 10-to-1 bleach solution — 10 parts water, 1 part bleach.

2) Put on rubber gloves.

3) If the bird feeder comes apart easily, break it down to its parts, and place each one into the bleach solution.

4) Using a stiff scrubbing brush, remove the debris, paying careful attention to the platform and perches. If the bird feeder or certain parts are very soiled or molded, let them sit in the bleach solution for 10 minutes.

5) If you’re cleaning a tube bird feeder, you will need a long cleaning brush.

6) Rinse the feeder very thoroughly. Use hot water; some birders prefer boiling water. This is important!

7) Dry the feeder with a towel.

8) If the bird feeder is made of wood or is a tube feeder, let it air-dry overnight before refilling with bird seed or suet.

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Posted: February 11, 2013, 2:00 p.m. PST

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Reader Comments
I got a hummingbird feeder from Yard Envy, and they suggested I clean it every week or so depending on the temperature, and these are great steps to go about cleaning the feeder so that the birds can enjoy their feed.
Lindsey, Atlanta, GA
Posted: 2/13/2013 11:24:31 AM
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