How to Clean Hummingbird Feeders

Backyard birdwatchers share their tried-and-true tips to keep sugar water safe for their favorite fliers.

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

Hot Water and Vinegar

“Scrub the feeder with a brush and then fill with a hot water and vinegar mixture. Let it soak, rinse well and then air dry before filling,” says Cher Loskota, Mountain Home, Arkansas.

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.

Keep Hummingbird Feeders 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.

Reuse an Old Toothbrush

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

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.

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.