Watching hummingbirds feed is always a delight, especially when they’re feeding from a food source you placed. But as more birds visit the feeding station, you’ll need to clean the feeder more often.
The best way to clean hummingbird feeders is to first discard any nectar left inside, then disassemble it. Clean the disassembled pieces, using warm soapy water and bottle brushes to scrub the reservoir, feeding ports, and other parts. Finally, rinse thoroughly, air dry, and reassemble the feeder.
In this article, you’ll find detailed instructions on the best way to clean a hummingbird feeder. The guide also discusses how often you should clean your bird feeders.
- 1 Cleaning a Hummingbird Feeder
- 2 9 Steps to a Clean Hummingbird Feeder
- 3 When Should You Clean a Hummingbird Feeder?
- 4 Don’t Forget
Cleaning a Hummingbird Feeder
Cleaning a hummingbird feeder is easy. You’ll need the following tools and materials.
- Bottle brush
- Small bristle brush or toothbrush
- Unscented dish soap
- Large bowl
- Optional clean cloth (or paper towel)
With these tools in hand, the procedure is straightforward and as follows.
9 Steps to a Clean Hummingbird Feeder
1. Throw Out Any Nectar Left in the Feeder
Before you can begin cleaning the hummingbird feeder, you’ll of course need to throw out any nectar left inside. Simply turn the feeder on its side and let the nectar drain out. It’s best to do this outside or in a sink so that the nectar residue doesn’t get on any surfaces where it may attract insects.
2. Dismantle the Feeder
Carefully, take the feeder apart, detaching parts like the insect guards, ant moats, perches, and other parts that can be separated. Doing so will allow you to reach the hard parts of the hummingbird feeder when cleaning.
Sometimes the nectar may become hard, making it difficult to take off the base of the feeder. If this happens, don’t force it open, as you may break it. Instead, leave it in hot water for about twenty minutes to soften and become loose.
3. Soak the Parts in Hot Water
Put some hot water in a large bowl and add a few drops of dish soap to it. Put each of the disassembled pieces of the hummingbird feeder in the water to soak.
4. Clean the Feeding Ports
Double-check, to make sure there’s no nectar remaining in the feeding ports, and that there are no clogs inside. The best way to do this is to run some tap water through the ports, this will flush out any dirt and reveal any clogging.
Next, take the small bristle brush and push it through the feeding ports to clean the insides. If possible, it’s best to clean the ports from both ends, to ensure that it’s properly cleaned, as even the smallest black mold or fungus can quickly contaminate the new nectar.
5. Scrub Out the Nectar Reservoir
Use a bottle brush to scrub inside and outside the reservoir thoroughly. As you scrub, pay attention to any remaining crystallized nectar and black mold spots.
If the neck of your hummingbird feeder is too narrow to allow a bottle brush, you can use a smaller brush, although cleaning hummingbird feeders this way will take more time and energy. An alternative is to put some rice into the bottle, fill it halfway with the warm soapy water and shake vigorously. This cleaning method will work much like a brush to get out any residual nectar or black mold growth from the bottle.
Also remember to scrub the bee guards, ant moats, perches, and other detachable parts. Clean these parts with the same cleaning solution of dish soap and hot water, using the bottle brush to scrub. A toothbrush will also do the trick.
6. Rinse Thoroughly
Rinse the reservoir, base, feeding ports, and detachable parts with clean running water. It’s important that you rinse well, for about 10 to 15 seconds, to ensure that all the soap residue goes off, as hummingbirds don’t enjoy the smell or taste of soap in their food.
7. Air Dry the Feeder Parts
It’s best to air dry hummingbird feeders, to prevent water droplets from mixing with the new nectar. Arrange all the pieces of the feeder on a dish rack, a clean cloth, or a paper towel, and leave them out in the open air.
If you’re pressed for time, you can make the pieces dry faster by wiping each one with a clean cloth first.
8. Reassemble the Feeder
Once all the pieces are dry, reassemble the feeder. Make sure that each piece fits properly to prevent leaks. Also, check for any parts that may have been damaged in the course of cleaning. If you find any, you’ll need to repair or replace them before using the feeder again.
9. Refill and Hang the Feeder
Put some fresh nectar into the newly cleaned feeder and hang it in an open place (like the backyard) where hummingbirds can easily find it. In no time at all, you should have hummers feeding on and hovering about your feeder.
An easy nectar recipe you can use to refill your hummingbird feeder is a solution of 1 part sugar and 4 parts water.
When Should You Clean a Hummingbird Feeder?
Generally, you should change the nectar in the feeder every two to four days, and clean a hummingbird feeder at least once a week. However, there’s no precise schedule for doing these things, and while you should always clean the feeder every week, some factors may warrant more regular cleaning. Some of these factors include weather, the number of birds that visit, and the appearance of the nectar in the feeder.
Hot weather makes hummingbird nectar ferment quickly. So in the peak of summer, when temperatures rise to 85 to 96 F, you’ll need to replace nectar more frequently, up to three times a week. You’ll also need to clean the feeder each time so that the fermented nectar doesn’t contaminate the fresh sugar solution.
Tip: As much as you’d like to reuse your hummingbird nectar, you can’t, especially not one that’s fermented. So in the summer months and hot weather, it’s best to reduce the amount of nectar you put in your hummingbird feeder to avoid waste caused by fermentation.
The Appearance of the Nectar
Clean your feeder immediately if the sugar water appears cloudy, or there are black specs or mold growths floating inside.
Number of Visiting Birds
Hummingbird nectar is an amazing food source for hummers. And If you have more birds visiting your feeder, the nectar will of course run out faster. This means more frequent cleaning, as you’ll have to clean out the feeder each time so that the dirt, mold, or fungus in the residue doesn’t contaminate the new nectar and cause illness in the birds.
It’s important to keep a hummingbird feeder clean, as dirt, black mold growth, and fungus can contaminate the nectar in the feeder, making it unhealthy for the birds. In extreme cases, contaminated nectar can cause death.
To clean hummingbird feeders, start by draining away any leftover sugar solution, then dismantle the feeders. Next, make a cleaning solution with hot water and some dish soap, using bottle brushes to scrub the nectar reservoir, feeding ports, ant moats, bee guards, and other parts of the feeder. Rinse the pieces thoroughly with running water to remove every bit of soap residue. Finally, leave the pieces in the open to dry.
Once the hummingbird feeder is properly dry, put the pieces together, refill it with nectar, and hang it outside for the birds to feed.