Keep your Birds Choice feeders clean!

a bullock's oriole sits on a Birds Choice suet feeder

Cleaning bird feeders is a necessary action for all those who provide healthy treats to birds. Without proper cleaning, diseases can spread rapidly through local birds, reducing the number of visitors to your yard.


a flock of pine siskins sits on a Birds Choice platform feeder

 Finches, like this flock of Pine Siskins, are susceptible to certain feeder diseases.

How to clean your Birds Choice bird feeders

Keeping your Birds Choice feeders free of viruses and bacteria is a quick and straightforward task. However, different feeder types require other methods of cleaning. Below, learn how to clean each principal feeder type.


an american goldfinch displays conjunctivitis symptoms

Prevent illnesses like this from affecting your feeder birds!

Seed feeders

Seed feeders come in all shapes and sizes, offering sunflower seed, millet, milo, peanuts, mealworms, etc. They are made of plastics, metals, and wood. Regardless of food type or building material, cleaning should be performed on the same schedule using the same method. Here are the steps to properly clean your Birds Choice feeder:

  1. Put on reusable gloves.
    1. Do not expose your hands to potential dangers.
  2. Dispose of any leftover birdseed.
    1. Never reuse birdseed!
  3. Take your feeder apart, if possible.
    1. Any contact points can harbor bacteria. Fully disassemble your feeder to expose all areas.
  4. Clean your cleaning area!
    1. Having a dirty cleaning area can spread any pathogens retained from previous cleanings.
  5. Remove all visible debris using a scrub brush or pressure washer.
    1. Debris prevents the disinfectant properties of bleach from working correctly.
    2. Multiple brush sizes and types may be necessary to clean every crack and corner.
    3. Use hot water and soap.
    4. Cleaning more frequently reduces the amount of organic and inorganic buildup on each feeder.
  6. Wipe down the feeder with a soapy sponge.
    1. Use hot water and soap.
    2. Sponges can retain and spread viruses and bacteria back onto the feeder.
    3. Do not skip the following steps! Soap and water are not enough for cleaning feeders.
  7. Soak each feeder in a 10% bleach solution for a minimum of 10 minutes.
    1. This step reduces the most significant amount of bacteria and viruses.
  8. Rinse the feeder thoroughly.
    1. Get all soap and bleach rinsed off.
  9. Let the feeder air dry completely.
    1. Do not rehang a wet bird feeder.
  10. Clean your prep area again.
    1. Prevent the future spread of disease.
  11. Wash your hands.
    1. Even with gloves on, you should always wash your hands after touching bird feeders.
  12. Fill and hang your bird feeder!

Platform feeders can help mitigate against some diseases like conjunctivitis!

Suet feeders

Suet feeders are typically made of metal cages with a special coating that prevents rusting. The fat of suet will cling tightly to the cage, so special care must be given to remove all excess suet remaining on the cage.

  1. Put on reusable gloves.
    1. Do not expose your hands to potential dangers.
  2. Dispose of any leftover suet.
  3. Take your feeder apart, if possible.
    1. Any contact points can harbor bacteria. Fully disassemble your feeder to expose all areas.
  4. Clean your cleaning area!
    1. Having a dirty cleaning area can spread any pathogens retained from previous cleanings.
  5. Remove all visible suet, dirt, etc., using a scrub brush or pressure washer.
    1. The fats prevent the disinfectant properties of bleach from working correctly.
    2. Soak in hot water and soap. Hot water will loosen the fat, and the soap will help remove any residual grease.
  6. Wipe down the feeder with a soapy sponge.
    1. Use hot water and soap.
  7. Soak each feeder in a 10% bleach solution for a minimum of 10 minutes.
    1. This step reduces the most significant amount of bacteria and viruses.
  8. Rinse the feeder thoroughly.
    1. Get all soap and bleach rinsed off.
  9. Check for any residual suet.
  10. Let the feeder air dry completely.
    1. Do not rehang a wet bird feeder.
  11. Clean your prep area again.
    1. Prevent the future spread of disease.
  12. Wash your hands.
    1. Even with gloves on, you should always wash your hands after touching bird feeders.
  13. Fill and hang your bird feeder!

See our suet feeders!

Oriole feeders

a baltimore oriole sits on an oriole feeder

Oriole feeders use sugary substances to attract and feed these bright orange birds. Cleaning for sugary exposed surfaces should be every 3-5 days and more frequently if temperatures are high. Here are the steps to clean an oriole feeder.

  1. Put on reusable gloves.
    1. Do not expose your hands to potential dangers.
  2. Take your feeder apart, if possible.
    1. Any contact points can harbor bacteria. Fully disassemble your feeder to expose all areas.
  3. Clean your cleaning area!
    1. Having a dirty cleaning area can spread any pathogens retained from previous cleanings.
  4. Remove all jelly and fruit.
    1. Never reuse jelly and fruit that has been sitting out.
  5. Soak the feeder in hot water.
    1. Hot water helps loosen feces and sugar.
  6. Remove all visible sugar and wastes using a scrub brush.
    1. Feces can harbor dangerous pathogens.
    2. Use hot water and soap.
  7. Soak in hot water and soap again.
  8. Rinse the feeder thoroughly.
  9. Let the feeder air dry completely.
    1. Do not rehang a wet bird feeder.
  10. Clean your prep area again.
    1. Prevent the future spread of disease.
  11. Wash your hands.
    1. Even with gloves on, you should always wash your hands after touching bird feeders.
  12. Fill and hang your oriole feeder!

See our oriole feeders!

Hummingbird feeders

a broad-tailed hummingbird visits a feeder

Hummingbird feeders require less effort when cleaning, though they require more frequent cleaning due to molds and mildew. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned every 3-5 days and more frequently during hot snaps. Here are the steps to clean a hummingbird feeder.

  1. Put on reusable gloves.
    1. Do not expose your hands to potential dangers.
  2. Take your feeder apart, if possible.
    1. Any contact points can harbor bacteria. Fully disassemble your feeder to expose all areas.
  3. Clean your cleaning area!
    1. Having a dirty cleaning area can spread any pathogens retained from previous cleanings.
  4. Dispose of unused nectar.
    1. Never reuse old nectar.
  5. Soak the feeder in hot water.
    1. Hot water helps loosen feces and sugar.
  6. Remove all visible sugar and wastes using a scrub brush.
    1. Feces can harbor dangerous pathogens.
    2. Use hot water and soap.
  7. Soak in hot water and soap again.
  8. Rinse the feeder thoroughly.
  9. Let the feeder air dry completely.
    1. Do not rehang a wet bird feeder.
  10. Clean your prep area again.
    1. Prevent the future spread of disease.
  11. Wash your hands.
    1. Even with gloves on, you should always wash your hands after touching bird feeders.
  12. Fill and hang your hummingbird feeder!

See our hummingbird feeders!

Tips for cleaning bird feeders

Cleaning bird feeders should not be burdensome. It should not be time-consuming. And it should not impact your ability to feed and enjoy birds. Instead, cleaning your feeders should further connect you to your backyard birds. However, a handful of tips and tricks can make cleaning feeders safer and more manageable and reduce your loss of enjoyment.

Tip #1 - Dishwasher safety

Some bird feeders are dishwasher safe. If you choose to use a dishwasher, sanitize it again before refilling with dishes. We recommend NOT using a dishwasher when possible as soaking in a bleach solution is best for bird AND human safety.

Tip #2 - A place to soak

Have a dedicated soak bucket or tub that allows for a quick fill with your disinfectant solution. Measure out and mark the amount of liquid that can comfortably fill your tub without overfilling. A premeasured tub also allows you to dilute your disinfectant solution quickly.

Tip #3 - Have a second set of feeders

If your cleaning operations will take a day or two, we recommend having a backup set of feeders. Multiple bird feeders allow one group to come down for cleaning while a sanitized group hangs in their place. If numerous feeder collections are not possible, clean your bird feeders in phases. A phased effort might require more time if you use many feeders.

Cardinal flying towards a bird feeder.

Birds Choice has many collections available to give you two or more sets of feeders to keep birds safe!

Tip #4 - Use the garden hose

Attach a strong spray nozzle to your garden hose to help quickly remove built-up debris and feces on your bird feeders. A pressurized spray will speed up your cleaning process.

Tip #5 - Use a rake

Cleaning your bird feeders is essential. However, many people forget to clean under their feeders! Use a rake or shovel to remove waste seed and seed hulls under your feeders. Dispose of this organic matter by adding them to your compost or spreading it in the areas of your yard you do not mind a sunflower or two sprouting up.

Prevent the spread of disease at bird feeders

Bird feeding benefits man and bird. It is a relationship that can sour with poor practices. Dirty feeders can lead to severe consequences for fur and feather. One simple action can prevent the spread of salmonellosis, conjunctivitis, and avian pox. This prevention should be at the forefront of every bird feeding brain. And getting yourself and your bird feeders on a regular cleaning schedule is one of many steps you can take at home to protect the birds we all love end enjoy.