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Cleaning Bird Feeders

Question:

Last year I hung 2 bird feeders, one is for the hummingbirds and the other is a tube feeder. I left the out all winter and now they look pretty dingy. What is the best way to clean them?

Answer:

After a lot of use and exposure to the elements it is normal for feeders to get dirty, but it is important to give them a good cleaning for the health of the birds. Do this once a month for regular feeders and once a week for hummingbird feeders during the months when they are feeding.

Depending on the area of the country where you live, hummingbirds return in the spring with other migrating birds. But it is good to have your feeders clean and ready when they arrive. I use a cleaning solution of one part vinegar to four parts water. And since using a brush on the narrow necks of bottles can be difficult, add a handful of rice along with the vinegar mixture to clean the insides. Gently shake the bottle and the rice will act as an abrasive.

Tube feeders can be more of a challenge because there are so many parts to them. First, remove whatever parts you can. Next combine one part bleach to ten parts water in a large tub and soak everything in the solution for about 10 minutes. If you find soaking alone doesn't do the trick, you may have to use a little elbow grease and maybe even a toothbrush to get down into some of the tighter areas.

Bleach can discolor wooden feeders so use a few drops of mild, fragrance-free dish washing detergent in a pan of water and a stiff bristle brush to clean them up.

As a final step rinse all your feeders thoroughly and let them dry completely before refilling them.