How to Clean Bird Feeders

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

downy woodpecker on peanut feederCourtesy Sarah Wood
Downy woodpecker on a peanut feeder

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. These are the best bird feeders and birdseed for cardinals.

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. Check out the 10 types of feeders you need in your backyard.

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. It’s also the perfect time to give them a deep cleaning. 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. Follow these tips to learn how to clean hummingbird feeders.

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Lori Vanover
Lori Vanover is the senior digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She enjoys growing vegetables in containers and raised beds and watching for birds in her backyard.