WHY IS A CLEAN HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER IMPORTANT?
Keeping your feeders clean and hygienic is a vital aspect of feeding the birds. Not only are hummers more likely to imbibe from a consistently clean feeding station, but it’s healthier for them as well. Most hummingbirds would rather go without food than drink nectar that has gone bad, so it’s important to keep your feeder clean if you want to continue enjoying their visits.
If this is your first time attempting to clean a hummingbird feeder, don’t worry! Just follow these six simple steps to maintain a fresh, sparkling clean feeder.
- Empty the feeder
- Take apart the feeder
- Soak the feeder
- Scrub the feeder
- Rinse then feeder
- Dry the feeder
WHAT YOU NEED
- Unscented dish soap
- A cleaning mop, like the Bob's® Feeder Cleaning Mop, bottle brush, or other cleaning tools
- Bucket (optional)
- Rice (optional)
STEP ONE: EMPTY THE FEEDER
When it’s time to clean your feeder, start by pouring out and discarding any unconsumed nectar and flushing the empty bottle with hot water. You should never reuse nectar because it does spoil, especially in warm weather. If hummers consistently aren’t emptying your feeder between cleanings, stop filling the reservoir completely full to avoid waste.
STEP TWO: TAKE THE FEEDER APART
To make cleaning easier, disassemble your feeder as much as you can. Many of the newer model Biologytrainingaid® hummingbird feeders can be completely taken apart. Even the feeding ports and bee guards can be removed. This will allow you to get into all the nooks and crannies for thorough cleaning.
STEP THREE: SOAK THE FEEDER
Mix hot water and dish soap in a container or sink to create a mild cleaning solution. Place all of the feeder parts into the solution and allow them to soak for 1-2 hours. This will loosen the nectar residue and any mold buildup on the interior of the feeder and make it easier to scrub.
STEP FOUR: SCRUB THE FEEDER
Using a cleaning mop or bottlebrush, scrub the hummingbird feeder. Clean the inside of the bottle and base thoroughly, removing any remaining nectar residue and paying extra attention to spots with mold. If your feeder has a small neck that can’t be accessed with a mop or if your feeder has some particularly dirty spots, you can add a spoonful of rice with a dab of dish soap. Then fill 2/3 of the way with water and give the feeder a good shake. Also, be sure to scrub the other feeder parts, such as feeding ports, the cap, and bee guards.
STEP FIVE: RINSE THE FEEDER
After you’re done scrubbing, empty the cleaning solution. Rinse the feeder with cold water to remove any traces of suds or dirt. Hummingbirds won’t like it if their nectar tastes like soap!
STEP SIX: DRY THE FEEDER
Arrange the pieces of your feeder in a dish rack or on a towel and allow them to air dry completely. Once they’re all dry, you can assemble your feeder and refill it. Then sit back and watch your hummers enjoy their fresh, clean food source!
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CLEAN A HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER?
Now that you know how to clean a hummingbird feeder, you may be wondering how often you actually need to perform this process. Generally, nectar should be replaced every 3 to 5 days and feeders should be cleaned at least once per week.
However, there’s no precise timeline. The frequency of cleaning depends on a few factors, such as: climage and number of birds
- Climate – In the height of the summer months, when the weather is consistently hot and humid, nectar can ferment much more quickly. When this is the case, nectar needs replaced and feeders need to be cleaned more frequently to prevent a buildup of mold – every few days may be necessary.
- Number of Birds – Determine how many birds visit your feeder – is it just a few regulars, or a whole flock? The more visitors you have, the more your hummingbird feeders need to be cleaned. Plus, it’s likely your nectar empties faster, so it’s the perfect time for a quick scrub.
In addition to the considerations above, you should also clean your feeder immediately if the nectar looks cloudy, indicating it has spoiled, or if you see black spots anywhere on the feeder.
OTHER CLEANING METHODS
Although we recommend soap and water as the best cleaning method for your hummingbird feeders, there is, as they say, more than one way to clean a feeder. Using a brush with soap and water is the easiest way to rid your feeder of nectar residue and other gunk, but other methods can work just fine for general feeder maintenance.
Here’s what you should know about alternate cleaning methods:
- Vinegar – Another easy and natural cleaning method for your hummingbird feeder. Again, you can use many of the same steps as above, substituting the soap and water solution for two parts water and one part distilled white vinegar. Allow to completely dry before refilling.
- Dishwasher – Lastly, you may also be able to use a dishwasher. This method is quick and easy but is only recommended for general cleaning. Do not use for moldy feeders that need scrubbing. You should also ensure that your feeder is dishwasher safe before doing this; otherwise, your feeder could melt.