May 27, 2020

Cleaning and Disinfecting Things In Our Bird Cages

I have always used a very dilute bleach solution to soak watering tubes, feed dishes, nests, and etc.
The use of bleach is a topic of debate among bird owners.
I have experimented with bleach, vinegar, citric acid, botanical/natural disinfectants and various soaps to wash bird cage accessories.

My usual method is to pour a few 'glugs' of bleach into a shallow sink of warm water, to a level to cover the water tubes, and leave them to soak for a couple hours or overnight.  I rinse each well under the faucet, keeping the original bleach water in the sink and letting the rinse water fill the sink.  I then add the feed/seed saucers to soak.
I don't soak the wooden perches, but do use a scouring pad and the bleach water to clean them.
  • Actual 'soap' may leave a cloudy residue on the dishes, if left to soak die for longer than an hour.
  • Rinse well.  I don't skimp on running clean water.
  • I have a complete second set of water tubes and cups.
    This means I can soak, rinse and let dry one set while the other set is in use in the cages.
I decided to do a little research to learn more about the proper use of various cleaners and disinfectants.

I first looked for mixing instructions for a handful of common ingredients.  Then I found the time needed for effective cleaning.
  • Heavily soiled and built up debris should be removed/rinsed before soaking.
    1 TB to 1/2 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water
    Soaking for 10 minutes is effective.
  • VINEGAR (5% white vinegar):
    1:4 vinegar to water for general cleaning
    1:1 vinegar to water for heavier cleaning.
    Soaking/remaining wet for 1 hour is recommended.
    2 TB per quart of warm water
    Soaking for an hour is recommended.
  • BOTANICAL DISINFECTANTS, using thymol oil:
    Most are Ready To Use products.
    Keeping wet for 10 minutes was the average time for effective disinfecting.
I have used all of the above, with success. I have also used hand dish soap, which seemed to rinse off well.
I dump out the 'dirty' water in a water tube every day, and put up clean ones weekly.
Unless there is algae growth, or something slimy in the bottoms, an actual disinfectant is not necessary, but it does make all the cage dishes look clean.
We have a private septic system, so I am careful to use the strongest 'antimicrobial' cleansers sparingly, to prevent problems with our septic tank and drain field.