How To Clean Hummingbird Feeder

If you have a sugar water feeder in your backyard for hummingbirds to feed on, then it is really important that you keep it clean. This is because you will be helping to make sure that the hummingbirds stay nice and healthy. An unclean feeder may cause the birds to become sick.

Fortunately, cleaning the hummingbird feeder is a lot simpler than it might first appear to be. If, like me, you enjoy seeing the birds venture into your garden for some nourishment, then you will want to keep on top of keeping the bird feeder clean.

So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at how to clean a hummingbird feeder – plus some tips!

Photo by Chris F.

When you should clean a hummingbird feeder

Absolutely, you should clean a hummingbird feeder. Doing so ensures that the hummingbirds keep coming back to feed. You should be aiming to clean a hummingbird feeder at least twice a week during the summer, and once a week during the colder months. 

If the hummingbirds get through the feeder quickly, then clean the feeder every time it becomes empty. On some of these occasions you can just use hot water. 

Why should you keep a hummingbird feeder clean?

It is very important to keep a hummingbird feeder clean because it is safer for the birds. Sugar water can get moldy very quickly, especially if it is sitting in the sun. If the birds drink it, they can become ill.

The hummingbird is far less likely to eat from a dirty feeder. They will go without food – or even drink – if the feeder is full of debris. If you want to enjoy the lovely visits you get on a daily basis, then ensure that you keep the hummingbird feeder clean and topped up. 

Photo by Joseph Vogel

Easy ways to clean a hummingbird feeder

One of the easiest ways to clean a hummingbird feeder is by using hot water and dish soap.

Here is a quick guide on how to clean a hummingbird feeder with dish soap:

Step 1

If there is still liquid left in the bird feeder, empty it down the sink. Then flush out the feeder with hot water to give it a good rinse. 

One good rule of thumb is to never reuse any nectar. Over time it will become spoiled, especially if the weather is warm. 

Step 2

Take apart the bird feeder to make cleaning it much easier to do. If the bird feeder cannot be taken apart, then ignore this step entirely. 

Photo by Samuel Sweet

Step 3

Using a bucket or a large bowl, add hot water and some unscented dish soap. This creates a mild and safe solution to clean the bird feeder in.

Place the bird feeder into the water and allow it to soak for around 1 to 2 hours. This ensures the nectar comes away, and any mold is removed from inside the interior.

Step 4

Using a small brush like a bottle brush, clean all the areas of the feeder. This includes any loose parts too.

If you cannot reach an area, add rice, cover and shake. This will do a good job at cleaning hard to reach areas.

Step 5

Once you have scrubbed away any dirt and grime, rinse the feeder under cool running water. This will remove any soap or old nectar left on the feeder. 

Photo by Skyler Ewing

Step 6

Now the above steps are complete, you can leave the hummingbird feeder to air dry.

Because it is a long process – albeit easy – you may want to buy an extra bird feeder to use while the other one is being cleaned.

Other ways can you clean a hummingbird feeder

There are several ways you can clean a hummingbird feeder. Here are a few other options to try:

Rice Technique

For a quick but effective clean, try using rice. Add around one quarter of a cup of rice to half a cup of hot water into the bird feeder.

Place the lid on tight.

Shake the bird feeder for a few minutes.

The rice is both soft and abrasive, so it will thoroughly clean the inside of the hummingbird feeder without causing damage. 

Give it a rinse with hot water and it will be clean to use again. 

Photo by Skyler Ewing

Strong Clean

If you have black mold on the bird feeder, you may want to give it a stronger clean to remove the bacteria.

While some people do use bleach, you might want to steer clear from such a strong ingredient.

Instead, you can use a weak white vinegar solution. Fill a large bowl full of cold water, and apply one quarter amount of vinegar to the bowl.

Soak the bird feeder for an hour and then scrub any areas with a toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly to remove any residue. 

Rotate Often

It is worth buying at least two hummingbird feeders. While one is clean and ready to be used, the other one can be in line ready to be cleaned.

It makes everything a lot easier. Instead of having to clean just the one, you can rotate and always have a clean one ready. 

Also, because hummingbird nectar should be changed every 3 to 5 days (depending on the weather), it makes sense to rotate them often so you get the chance to spend time cleaning the feeder properly.

Photo by Frank Cone

Final Thoughts

It is really important to keep a hummingbird feeder clean. Doing so means that the hummingbirds that visit your backyard always have somewhere to feed.

For their own safety, you will want to keep the feeder clean to ensure they have something to eat and drink. This is even more important when the weather becomes hot.

Also, during this kind of warmer weather you will want to clean the bird feeder at least twice a week to keep it in tip-top shape.

Hopefully you have learned a lot from this article. Check out the rest of my posts to learn more about birds!


Are glass or plastic feeders better?

Tricky to answer this one. Plastic is lighter and less likely to get broken but glass is easier to clean and looks better. Personal preference I think.

Where should you not hang a hummingbird feeder?

Anywhere near windows. You definitely do not want a hummingbird flying into or through your windows. Therefore, you should also think carefully about hanging them on the edge of a balcony. A balance between bird safety and visibility is the key.

Do I need to boil sugar water for hummingbirds?

No, neither the water or sugar water needs to be boiled. Use refined sugar and make sure it is dissolved in the water. You can do this by shaking the container vigorously.

What happens if I don’t clean the feeder enough?

Sugar water is prone to spoil, especially in hot weather or sitting in sunshine. If you allow the birds to still drink it then they may get bacterial infections which are dangerous for them and their chicks.

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