How to Properly Clean Your Bird Feeders - Backyard Boss
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How to Properly Clean Your Bird Feeders

Are you looking for an easy way to clean and maintain your bird feeders? Or do you have older bird feeders that you’ve forgotten about and would love to clean up? Either way, it’s important to know what solutions to use and what to do. This how-to guide will have your bird feeders looking new, and safe for birds!

In general, you should clean your bird feeders at least once a month, and one to two times a week for hummingbird feeders. We recommend a deep cleaning every two to three months, or sooner if you notice any signs of mold or bacteria.


  • Large container or bucket
  • Rubber gloves
  • Deep Cleaning Solution – Bleach (1/10 ratio of non-toxic bleach and hot water)
  • Alternatively – Vinegar (1/1 ratio of white vinegar and hot water)
  • General Cleaning Solution – Dish Soap (Dawn and hot water)

Choose non-toxic options when cleaning any bird feeders.

For wood bird houses specifically, you have to be mindful that whatever products you use, the wood can absorb.  Instead of soaking it in bleach or vinegar, we suggest washing it down with dish soap, making sure to rinse it well, and not letting it sit in the solution.

Step 1: Remove Seeds/Old Food

yellow and black bird takes seed from full green bird feeder
Image credits: Analogicus via Pixabay

Remove any old seeds or food from the feeder as best you can before cleaning. Make sure to replace it with new, fresh food after washing. Do not reuse old food.

Step 2: Dismantle Bird Feeder

If possible, take apart any removable pieces from the feeder. This will ensure all corners of the bird feeder get cleaned.

Step 3: Prep Container With Hot Water

small grey, white and black bird eating from a pie plate feeder full of seeds
Image credits: DroolingDogs via Pixabay

Using a large container or bucket is best when washing your bird feeders. Old bird seed, as well as the feeders themselves, can carry bacteria or diseases, so it’s best to keep this out of your house, if possible.

Fill the container with hot water, and make sure to leave enough room to submerge your feeder.

Step 4: Add Your Solution

If using bleach, mix one part bleach with ten parts water. You do not need to use a lot of bleach for this. And make sure that pets and children cannot access the solution or bleach products.

For the vinegar solution, you can mix one part vinegar with one part water. Note, this will smell strongly of vinegar, and may soak into wood bird houses.

With dish soap, you can add what you think is best, similar to what you would do when washing dishes by hand.

Step 5: Scrub the Dirt

In most cases, scrubbing with dish soap and hot water should take care of most dirt and grime on your bird feeder. But bleach and/or vinegar is best when dealing with cases of mold or bacteria.

Step 6: Let Soak

hummingbird hovering near red hummingbird feeder
Image credits: GeorgeB2via Pixabay

If not made of wood, let your bird feeder sit for 30 minutes to an hour in the cleaning solution. This step is especially helpful if your bird feeder is stained, or has smaller hard-to-reach areas.

Step 7: Wash Again

By now, most of your bird feeder should be clean, so give it a quick wash with dish soap and fresh hot water.

If using a bleach or vinegar solution first, make sure to wash with dish soap for this step. This will ensure no remaining chemicals or smells remain.

Step 8: Rinse

Using fresh water again, rinse the bird feeder to ensure it is clear of soap or other solutions.

Step 9: Air-Dry Completely

red, black and white woodpecker resting on side of bird feeder cage
Image credits: Schauhi via Pixabay

Let the bird feeder air-dry completely. Using cloths or paper towels to dry could introduce bacteria or leave behind further residue or material.

Step 10: Refill

Once fully dry, put new bird seed/food into your bird feeder and place it back outside. Your clean feeders are ready to welcome your flying friends again!

Cleaning Your Bird Feeders

Make sure to keep an eye on your feeders in warmer weather, and clean them more often. If buying a new bird feeder, you can look for ones that are easy to disassemble and clean. Once again, make sure to dilute your solution if using bleach, and make sure to thoroughly wash and rinse your bird feeders to make sure they are kept safe for the birds!