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How to clean bird feeders


Bacteria and fungal spores can quickly build on up bird feeders, baths and tables, which can spread infections among garden birds. Clean your feeders regularly to minimise the risk of infection, and move your bird table around the garden to prevent a build up of disease in any one area.

How to do it


Wearing rubber gloves, empty the feeder of its contents and dispose of them in a bin. Don't reuse the food or compost it, as it could be harbouring harmful bacteria.


Fill a bucket with hot, soapy water. Thoroughly clean the feeder with a brush, scrubbing off any residual food and droppings.


Rinse with cold water, preferably under an outside tap. Leave the feeder to stand, allowing it to dry completely.


Finally, spray the feeder with a veterinary disinfectant, which should kill any remaining infectious agents. Rinse the feeder again and allow to dry completely, before refilling.

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Talkback: How to clean bird feeders
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kater1 27/01/2012 at 10:02

I was hoping that this item would show how to clean plastic seed containers which I find much more difficult to clean than the peanut mesh ones.
I clean mine at every refill but it's always hard to get the base clean. I use a metal skewer, soak it in warm soapy water etc but it's not easy, particularly if it's been raining a lot.
In spite of keeping my own containers clean I had a dunnock in my garden which clearly had avian pox. I live in Merseyside which the RSPB said was the most northerly report they'd received. I only recognised the disease because of national publicity last year.

Any more tips on cleaning plastic containers would be very welcome. Thanks.

june fisher 27/01/2012 at 12:01

I was hoping to see how to clean a bird table,my neighbour gave me one but it is very dirty and I have tried scrubbing it with hot water but it does not look any cleaner to me.Any suggestions please?

deemac 28/01/2012 at 23:05

Hi Kater1
I find the best way to clean seed feeders is to dismantle them as much as possible and wash the components in a bucket of hot soapy water (soak them overnight if you can) I know this is time consuming but you should try to do this at least every month. Otherwise clean them as much as possible with a brush and cloth and then rinse with the garden hose fitted with a high pressure nozzle,(be sure to wear eye protection) paying attention to the hard to reach parts of the feeder.
I hope this advice was helpful to you

kater1 28/01/2012 at 23:59

Hi deemac,
Thanks very much.
I do try to dismantle them but the bases are the problem. I've got one soaking in a bucket of soapy water at the moment. I intend to get a longer, sturdier bottle-brush too. The high pressure nozzle is a good idea as I've only tried a full-on sink tap so far.
I think it's possible to buy feeders that the bases come off but they might be expensive - will have to look. I have 7 hooks but about 10 feeders so that I can put a clean fresh one up each time I take an empty one down. The 'square' Gardman(?) ones are easy to clean but the seeds get wet as soon as it rains.
Mostly I feed sunflower hearts which are particularly popular with the goldfinches - even when there are niger seeds available. I've been pleased to see them eating from my teasels too.

full-time-mum 30/01/2012 at 13:47

Where is the best place to get the Veterinary disinfectant?

I haven't had my feeders out for a while - mainly because they need a good clean and I haven't had the time but I really should get my act together now the weather is finally getting colder.

I've always used Detox or diluted bleach - is this not good enough?

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