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The Safe Way to Clean a Birdcage

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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As any bird owner can attest, birds can be sweet, lovable – and very messy. In order to keep a bird healthy, you need to clean his cage daily – and do a thorough cleaning once a week. But because of his sensitive skin and respiratory tract, cleaning up after him can be dangerous and sometimes even fatal.

Disinfecting the Cage

Bleach is a perfectly acceptable disinfectant. It's inexpensive and readily available. But don't use it straight; the fumes can seriously damage a bird's respiratory system. Instead, dilute it, using one ounce of bleach to each quart of water. This is a 5 percent solution and is quite effective in killing bacteria and viruses. Alternatives to bleach are chlorhexidine, Roccal® or Micro Quat®. Dilute these products also, according to label recommendations.

Cleaning the Cage

Each day, remove food and water bowls. Empty the contents and soak the bowls in disinfectant for 15 to 30 minutes. After disinfecting, thoroughly wash the bowls with mild dish soap to remove any disinfectant residue that could cause illness in your bird. Allow the bowls to dry thoroughly before you refill them and replace them in the cage.

While the bowls are drying, start cleaning the cage itself. Remove toys, perches and cage paper. Wipe all cage surfaces with a damp cloth to remove debris and dirt. Replace the cage paper and clean off the toys and perches with a damp towel before putting them back into the cage.

For a more thorough weekly cleaning, remove all bowls, toys, paper and perches. Thoroughly scrub the cage with disinfectant. Then, soak the cage in disinfectant for 15 to 30 minutes. After soaking, scrub with soap and water to remove residual disinfectant. Allow the cage to dry thoroughly. In warm weather, the cage can be placed outdoors to dry in the sun.

Wooden parts, including perches, should be scrubbed and sanded to remove surface dirt. Wood can also be cleaned with soap and water, but avoid soaking wooded items since this can result in rotting or molding. Allow the wood to dry completely before replacing it in the cage.

Once the cage is dry, new cage paper, clean bowls, toys and perches can be placed back into the cage. Before placing the bird in the cage, make sure you have:

  • Rinsed off all disinfectant with soap and water
  • Allowed the cage, bowl and toys to dry completely
  • Swept or vacuumed below and around the cage

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