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Question about cleaning bird feeders safely

Pretty much every website I've read says to clean bird feeders with a "mild detergent" or "warm soapy water", with some being a bit more specific and saying that this can be a mixture of bleach and water, and then rinse thoroughly.

My question is, how mild is mild? What ratio of water to bleach is safe, both in terms of making sure any bugs are killed off and in making sure that there isn't residue left over after rinsing that might harm the birds. Also, what really counts as a bird-safe detergent - is bleach and water best, or will "normal" soapy water (i.e. bog standard Fairy Liquid that you use for your dishes) also do the job?

I try to clean my bird feeders regularly, but they get mucky again pretty quickly, so I want to make sure that I am not unintentionally building up any disease or toxicity problems for the birds in the long term.

Thank you.
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Posts

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,628
    I just run the tap hot and use it to fill a normal washing up bowl with a normal amount of washing up liquid and leave the feeders in there to soak till the water is hand hot and then I give them a scrub and a rinse and leave to drain before filling again.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,388
    Don't overthink it - Fairy Liquid is fine as is diluted bleach, try a 10% bleach solution.  Just make sure you rinse well and don't leave any soap or bleach residue. The rest of the wild world birds inhabit doesn't get bleached or soaped and they survive OK.

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,164
    edited January 2021
    I use this stuff. Sadly the concentration of birds that are brought together artificially in one place by human interference in their feeding routines can result in some very nasty diseases being passed on from one bird to another in faecally contaminated food.


    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,628
    Not a problem here as we're the only ones with bird feeders but that may be good for cleaning the hen house when it gets a deep clean.  Thanks @pansyface
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 20,164
    It’s good stuff and a little goes a long way.

    They also make a hutch and cage cleaner, which is good too.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • PurpleRosePurpleRose North YorkshirePosts: 538
    I wash in hot water with washing up liquid and soak like what @Obelixx said above. I rinse really well with hot water and leave to air dry.
  • @Obelixx @steephill @pansyface @PurpleRose Thank you to everyone for the advice and suggestions. It's reassuring to know that I am not doing anything wildly wrong! Off to clean the feeders now  :)
  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 3,621
    I cleaned my feeders on Thursday (a generous squirt of kitchen detergent in a bucket of hot water) anticipating that sparkling clean feeders might attract hoopoes, redcaps, Dartford warblers, penguins. Did it work? Did it buggery!
  • BenCotto said:
    I cleaned my feeders on Thursday (a generous squirt of kitchen detergent in a bucket of hot water) anticipating that sparkling clean feeders might attract hoopoes, redcaps, Dartford warblers, penguins. Did it work? Did it buggery!
     :D Darn, I'd have placed money on the penguins.
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 15,873
    I use fairy liquid and rinse it well.
    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
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