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How To Clean A Hummingbird Feeder

Updated on May 15, 2011

Cleaning a hummingbird feeder is easy and very important to do. It does, however, take a little time. There are two types of cleanings that need to be done with hummingbird feeders. They should be cleaned every couple of days or with each nectar refill, and then thoroughly once a month. Keeping your feeders clean will keep those cute little birds happy, healthy, and coming back to your feeder!

You should visually check your feeders every day for spoiled nectar and mold. How fast it will spoil is dependent on where it is located and how hot it is outside. If your feeder is in the shade it will not spoil as fast as it would if it were in direct sunlight. It will spoil faster on hotter days than it will on cooler days. Nectar should last 3 - 4 days in moderate 60 - 85 degree temperatures, fewer days in higher temperatures. Hummingbirds will not drink spoiled nectar. If the nectar is cloudy it is spoiled. Spoiled nectar also promotes mold growth.

Do not add fresh nectar to a feeder that already has nectar in it. Clean your feeder every time it needs refilled or has spoiled nectar in it. If your feeder is emptied within a few hours after you put it out it is still a good idea to clean the feeder. Hummingbirds can drip some of the nectar they are drinking onto the outside of the feeder, attracting ants and bees. If you are dumping out a lot of nectar every couple of days try filling the feeder only as full as what was consumed by the birds between fillings.

Cleaning Before Refilling

There are many different types of feeders made out of different types of materials. They are made out of plastic, glass, recycled glass, and blown glass with wood, metal or plastic around them. Some are beautiful to look at and very delicate. Some are not so pretty but are very functional and easy to take care of. Ultimately you will follow the manufacturer's directions for cleaning. The following is generally safe for all types of feeders.

Inspect the feeder before cleaning to see if any mold is present. To clean before refilling hold the feeder under warm running tap water. Scrub the feeder inside and out with a bottle brush. Make sure you scrub in all the holes on the feeder. You can also add fine sand or uncooked white rice with water and swish it around inside the feeder to reach any areas a brush cannot. Sand or rice is effective at removing mold. You do not have to use soap. If you do use soap, use very little of a mild soap and rinse the feeder thoroughly. It can leave a residue that hummingbirds will notice.

Once A Month Cleaning

About once a month you will want to give your feeder a good, thorough cleaning. This will sterilize the feeder and help keep it clean through the month. To give your feeder a thorough cleaning you will need a bucket large enough for your feeder to fit in and unscented bleach. If you don't want to use a bucket your kitchen sink works fine. Mix one-fourth cup of unscented bleach with one gallon of water. Let your feeder soak in this mixture for about an hour then scrub it with a soft brush. Rinse the feeder thoroughly. If you don't want to use bleach you can use full strength white vinegar.

Regularly cleaning your feeders helps keep them in good condition so they can be used over and over. It keeps mold spores and bacteria from growing and taking them over. It also keeps your hummer visitors happy and healthy!


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