Should Bird Feeders Be Cleaned? (Answered With Tips)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

It’s a joy to watch our birds feast. I’m sure you’ll agree. All year long, birds require a consistent and dependable food source.

As a result, bird feeders are a highly helpful piece of equipment to have in your backyard to assist bird fed.

Having a bird feeder has numerous advantages. Adult birds spend less time hunting and consuming energy to feed their young when they use these feeders.

But then should bird feeders be clean? Let’s find out.

Should Bird Feeders Be Cleaned?

Should Bird Feeders Be Cleaned

The answer is definitely a yes. Bird feeders offer a fun and entertaining way to observe birds up close and connect with nature.

They are more of a supplement to the natural food sources available for birds in your backyard or garden.

However, these feeders should be cleaned as frequent as possible. Birds are most likely going to get an infection if the feeder isn’t cleaned.

Feeding these creatures is not enough. We want our birds healthy and strong. So, do not leave them out on proper hygiene.

Birds can’t have proper hygiene without cleaning their feeder.

Different species of birds prefer varying types of feeder foods. However, not all birds eat from feeders. Most birds eat just fruits and not seeds or grains.

Interested in knowing more about bird feeders? Keep reading.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on painting my bird feeders

What Are The Tips And Tricks To Clean A Bird Feeder Safely?

As previously stated, dirty feeders can be harmful to birds. Whether it is being used to feed your birds or wild birds, it is important to have the feeders clean.

Wondering how you can keep these feeders clean? Here are some tips on how you can clean your feeders regularly.

Get the right feeders: First and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate feeder. Not all feeders are suitable for use. Obtaining the proper feeder is the first step.

Getting the right feeder entails getting a feeder made of the right material. This makes cleaning the feeder much easier.

Wooden feeders are a no-no. This is because they absorb oil and are unlikely to be thoroughly cleaned.

Choose bird feeders made of recycled plastic, metal, glazed ceramic, or glass for easier maintenance and healthier birds.

Clean feeders often: The feeder should be cleaned as frequent as possible.

The frequency in cleaning the feeder is usually dependent on how often the birds feed from the feeder.

Ideally, feeders should be cleaned every two weeks. However, if you fear sickness is lurking, increase the frequency of cleaning.

Soak feeders: ensure you soak the feeder before washing. This makes the washing process easier.

This can be done by using a sink to submerge the feeder.

Use the right equipment: Make sure you have all of the necessary equipment.

There are specialized brushes for different sizes and shapes of feeders available at nature stores, garden centers, and pet supply stores.

Though regular bottle brushes can also be effective. Cleaning small parts, feeding ports, and tight corners with an old toothbrush is a great option as well.

A stiff pipe cleaner is ideal for pulling through small feeding portholes and thoroughly cleaning them.

However, to avoid contamination, it is best to wear rubber gloves and clean thoroughly.

Use a good cleaning agent:

The type of cleaning agent you use is super important. Feeders can be washed with mild unscented soaps. They can be sanitized with bleach and hot water as well.

Cleaning feeders with a mix of nine parts water to one part bleach is recommended by the National Wildlife Health Center.

Clean the feeders inside out:

Make certain that the feeder has been thoroughly cleaned from the inside out.

Each feeder, including all feeding ports, perches, lids, platforms, and reservoirs, should be thoroughly cleaned inside and out. This ensures the best sanitation and disease prevention.

Hooks, poles, and any other part of the feeder where birds may perch or feces may accumulate should all be cleaned.

Rinse feeders properly:

Ensure that the feeder is properly rinsed after washing. This is to ensure that there are no leftovers in or on the feeder.

Dry out feeders:

It is best to ensure the feeder is dry. A wet feeder can raise certain issues.

If the feeder isn’t properly dry, It can lead to the growth of mold on the bird’s feed. To avoid this ensure the feeder is dried directly under the sun.

Before rehanging the feeder, allow it to dry out totally.

Clean up feeder surrounding:

Finally, always ensure the surroundings of the bird feeder are equally kept clean.

Take out any old or damp seed as well as seed hulls from beneath all feeders. Make certain that the feeding area is as clean as the feeder.

When Should You Clean Bird Feeders?

Feeders, as previously stated, should be cleaned as frequently as possible.

This is important to prevent disease transmission among birds. You don’t have to wait until the feeder is visibly filthy to clean it.

Feeders should be cleaned at least once every week. However, busy feeders may need to be cleaned much more frequently.

Also, feeders should be cleaned more frequently during rainy seasons.

Why Should You Clean Your Bird Feeders?

It cannot be overstated how important it is to keep your feeder clean. But why should we bother cleaning our feeders in the first place?

Here are some of the reasons for this.

To begin, feeders must be cleaned to prevent birds from becoming ill. This could be the result of mold in the seeds or an accumulation of bad seeds.

As a result, regular cleaning reduces the likelihood of this occurring.

Second, your feeder must be clean to prevent the spread of diseases among birds.

There are a few things you can do to keep diseases from spreading. They are as follows:

1. When using the feeders, make sure birds have enough space between them. This is a method of reducing disease transmission among birds.

2. Keep the areas surrounding the feeder clean as well. Make sure rodents are kept away from the feeders.

3. Use high-quality feed for your birds. Make every effort to keep feed from getting wet.

4. Keep sick birds separate from healthy birds to prevent disease transmission.

5. Make sure your birds are checked regularly. This is because a bird can appear healthy while still carrying infection and transmitting it to others.

Can Humans Get Sick From Bird Feeders?

Yes, you can get sick from bird feeders. This is why regular sanitization is required. It is not for the good of the bird alone. It also helps keep humans safe as well.

People can get sick by touching their mouths or eyes after handling a bird feeder or a wild bird.

If you have a bird feeder, it is recommended that you clean and disinfect it weekly with a bleach solution and hot water.

Wild birds can carry certain germs and still appear healthy and clean. This is why extra precaution needs to be taken.

Many diseases can be spread by bird feeders and they include salmonellosis, trichomoniasis, pigeon paramyxovirus, avian pox.

Can You Use Vinegar To Clean Bird Feeder?

Yes, Vinegar isn’t only useful for cooking. It is an effective cleaning agent as well. And, it can be used for cleaning your bird feeder.

Vinegar has been noted to be the most effective means of cleaning a bird feeder.

Interestingly, this cleaning agent saves you a lot of time. You can soak your bird feeder for less than an hour using vinegar.

Cleaning with vinegar is a great way to remove grease, grime, dirt, and other debris on surfaces. It is also very active in killing bacteria.

How Often Should You Clean Your Bird Feeders?

As earlier stated your bird feeder should be cleaned as often as possible. You don’t necessarily have to wait to see visible dirt to get your feeder clean.

Your feeder should be cleaned at least once every week. This is to minimize the spread of diseases.

Cleaning your feeder once a month is not so advisable.

Seeds should be changed every five to seven days, especially during rainy seasons. This is to avoid the growth of mold, bacteria, or bugs in the feeders.

Also, always ensure you wash your hands after handling bird supplies and feeders.

Can I Soak My Bird Feeder In Bleach?

Yes, bleach can be used to clean a feeder. It is recommended that the bleach is however diluted with water.

Then, soak the feeder in it for about an hour.

Furthermore, ensure it is rinsed thoroughly. These chemicals can be harmful to our birds if not properly rinsed off. It is also important to let it dry.

However, it has to be said that vinegar is more effective because it requires a lesser amount of time before it gets cleaned.


Bird feeders should be cleaned regularly. This is one method of ensuring the health of your birds.

Aside from cleaning the feeders, the surrounding areas should also be cleaned. This is done to avoid infection from outside sources.

Also, to avoid mold growth in feeds during rainy seasons, proper precautions should be taken.

Photo of author

About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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