How to Clean Your Hummingbird Feeder

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Backyard birders share their proven tips to keep sugar water safe for their favorite fliers. Learn how to clean hummingbird feeders.

Steps for Cleaning a Hummingbird Feeder

A male ruby-throated hummingbird sits at a sugar-water feeder waiting to take a sip.Courtesy Jennifer Miner
Clean sugar-water feeders often to keep hummingbirds healthy and safe.

Sugar water feeders are an easy way for backyard birders to attract more hummingbirds, but it’s important to clean the feeders to keep birds healthy. In general, the best advice on how to clean a hummingbird feeder is to follow the same general steps that you would for cleaning seed feeders. This means taking the feeders down, emptying any leftover sugar water, and scrubbing them with hot water and dish soap. You can also use a bleach solution (made from 1 part bleach to 9 parts water) or a vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 2 parts water). Make sure you rinse all parts thoroughly with clean water before refilling them.

You’ll need to clean hummingbird feeders more frequently than other feeders. Aim to scrub them once a week in cooler weather and twice a week when temperatures soar. If you’re crunched for time, Emma Grieg, project leader for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch, has a tip. “Running them through a dishwasher will do the trick,” she says.

05 Bbas22 Drollyankeesbrushes2Via Merchant

Droll Yankees Cleaning Brushes

When washing the feeders by hand, pay special attention to the feeding ports. A pipe cleaner can help get the ports squeaky clean, as can special microbrushes. Use this three-pack of little brushes to scrub tiny ports on sugar-water feeders.

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05 Bbas22 MorebirdsfeederVia Merchant

More Birds Milk Bottle Hummingbird Feeder

This glass bottle hummingbird feeder has a wide opening and comes apart for easy cleaning. Place hummingbird feeders in spots tucked away from the sun during the hottest part of the day to keep nectar fresh longer.

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Read on for more hummingbird feeder cleaning tips shared by Birds & Blooms readers.

How to Clean a Hummingbird Feeder in 5 Ways

Hummingbirds hover around a feederGetty Images
Hummingbirds hover and perch around a feeder.

Rotate Hummingbird Feeders

“I have several feeders so that I can swap them out for cleaning. I soak them in bleach and water to get the black residue off. Then I use Q-tips to scrub the holes and small nooks. Rinse thoroughly!” says Lu-Ann Tucker of Wareham, Massachusetts.

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Keep Hummingbird Feeders in the Shade

how to clean hummingbird feederCourtesy Janet Crosby
Sugar water stays fresh for longer in the shade.

“Feeders are easier to keep clean if they’re hung in the shade. Mold growth slows significantly,” says Barbara Cameron of Cogan Station, Pennsylvania.

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Reuse an Old Toothbrush

“Wash (feeders) with very warm water and scrub with a toothbrush,” says Emily Eigenbrode Frederick, Maryland.

Get answers to your frequently asked questions about feeding hummingbirds.

Clean Hummingbird Feeders Often

“I clean hummingbird feeders every three days, especially in hot humid weather, using hot water, a natural cleaner and a special bent brush for hard-to-reach places,” says Gayla Metzger of Battle Creek, Michigan.

Psst—never add these foods to your hummingbird mixture. This is the only homemade hummingbird nectar recipe you need.

Just Add Rice

“I put 1/4 cup of rice and 1/2 cup of hot water in a feeder and shake it. The rice is abrasive, so it cleans the inside of the feeder,” says Kerry Rose of Valleyford, Washington.

Next, discover jaw-dropping hummingbird facts.

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Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find he reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.