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Surfbirds The Backyard Birding Experts!

How to Clean Hummingbird Feeders

black mold on hummingbird feeder
Frequent cleaning of hummingbird feeders is needed to prevent black mold. ©
It's important to keep the dreaded black mold off your Hummingbird Feeders. Dirty feeders can cause illness and death in hummingbirds. You should replace your nectar every few days in hot weather and be sure to thoroughly rinse out the bottle each time. Try to avoid using soap whenever you can.

This is important. If you don't keep your feeder clean, your hummingbirds will not visit them. Every filling, flush the feeder with hot tap water (not distilled); a bottle brush can be very helpful. Avoid soap whenever possible. If the sugar solution in your feeder turns cloudy, it's spoiled and needs to be replaced. When the temperature is over 80 degrees (F), clean and refill every three or four days. Over 90°F, it might spoil in two days.

using a brush on your feeder
A bottle brush helps clean the tight neck of a hummingbird feeder ©

Cleaning a Hummingbird Feeder with Bleach

If mold does appear and you need a more thorough cleaning method, here are some tips on how to clean those hard to reach places on a hummingbird feeder. At least once a month, clean the feeder thoroughly with a solution of 1/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water. Soak the feeder in this solution for one hour, then clean with a bottle brush. Rinse well with running water and refill. Any remaining traces of bleach will be neutralized by reacting with the fresh syrup, and there's no need to air dry before refilling. Bleach is both safe and very effective.

black mold
Mold on the base of a hummingbird feeder ©

Cleaning a Hummingbird Feeder with Vinegar

Vinegar is a good alternative to dish soap too as it has sterilizing qualities. Fill the bottle up with 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar and let it soak for several hours. Be sure to rinse thoroughly before refilling with nectar. You may still need to use a stiff brush to clean the base and also a bottle brush for the bottle.
cleaning your hummingbird feeder with vinegar
Distilled white vinegar can be a safe alternative to bleach or soap. As long as it is rinsed well afterwards. ©

Cleaning a Hummingbird Feeder without a Brush

If you don't want to use bleach or vinegar and you don't have a bottle brush, this is a good method for cleaning your feeder without a brush. Many people warn against using soap to clean out a hummingbird feeder. However, the job may really require it and as long as the bottle is thoroughly rinsed afterwards, it should be OK. However, sometimes, even a bottle brush and soap can't reach around the thin neck of the bottle and the following is a good method for cleaning the inside of the bottle without a brush.
spoon with rice
1. Put some uncooked rice on a teaspoon with a squirt of dish soap. The soap helps to glue the rice together as you pour the rice in to the bottle. ©
rice on spoon
2. Tip the rice in to the bottle ©

bottle with rice
3. The rice sits at the bottom of the feeder ©
bottle with water
4. Fill the bottle up 2/3 of the way with warm water ©

shaking feeder
5. Put your thumb over the end of the bottle and shake vigorously. Repeat as often as you like until the inside of the bottle appears clean. You many need to use this method with a bottle brush too depending on the severity of the job. ©