How to Clean a Bird Feeder

Follow these tips for cleaning and maintaining feeders to keep your backyard birds healthy in every season.

A clean bird feeder is essential, and it’s definitely something to keep in mind when you’re buying or building a new one. In addition to how attractive it looks, how sturdy it feels and how much seed it holds, consider how easy it will be to take apart and clean.

When birds eating at feeders come in close proximity, the spread of disease is more likely. Summer heat and rains can cause seed and suet to spoil or mold much quicker, especially if your feeders are in the sun. Accumulated bird droppings also create an unhealthy environment.

How to Clean a Bird Feeder

It’s important to keep feeders and the surrounding area clean to avoid spreading illness. Clean seed and suet feeders thoroughly ever few weeks (and even more often in hot and humid weather). Remove and discard any leftover seed. Spray and wipe feeders with a 10 percent bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water) and a stiff brush. Rinse well with clean water. Allow feeders to dry completely before filling and putting them back up. By the way, these foods can help attract birds.

Hummingbirds Of Costa RicaDan Kitwood/Getty Images

When to Clean a Bird Feeder

Mild days in early spring are the perfect time to assess the condition of feeders that have been outside all winter. Check for cracks, broken perches or damaged baffles. Repair or replace them if necessary.

If you have a hummingbird feeder, you also need to keep an eye out for cloudy sugar water and clean it more frequently. Hummingbird feeders can breed bacteria, and this can cause serious infections for hummingbirds and even their babies. Clean your feeders every one to three days using only hot water, and make sure you use a feeder that lets you clean all the nooks and crannies with a bottle brush.

A semi-regular deep cleaning is also essential for all bird feeders. Once or twice a season, take them down and give them a full wash with hot water and soap, or run them through the dishwasher. Many birds feed on the ground, so be sure to sweep up the husks and dropped seeds under and around feeders.

Up Next: Our best tips for attracting hummingbirds.

Popular Videos

Lori Vanover
Lori has been a writer and editor for 16 years, fueled by plenty of coffee and chocolate. She hopes to retire someday and become a hot pepper farmer, cake decorator or barbecue pitmaster.