How to Clean a Bird Cage

A parakeet in a cage grooms its feathers.

My first introduction to bird cage cleaning was from a woman who admitted she grabbed the birds (albeit with a thick, cotton glove) and shoved them in a cardboard box with a few air holes. She proceeded to transfer the cage to her backyard and hosed it down (her words, not mine). Those who know anything at all about birds, even parakeets or budgies, will recognize the flaw in her regimen. You can’t grab a strange bird by any of its parts, unless you go into the fray knowing there’s a possibility you’re going to kill it. I mean, consider the size of the average human compared to that of a parakeet. It’s the realization that grabbing a butterfly out of the air means it will never fly again. Even so, most people realize that even caged birds are tremendously fast, and if their wings haven’t been clipped—which I consider a cruel perversion of nature—they are even faster and harder to get a grip on. Fortunately, there’s a better way.

Bird Cage Cleaning Choices

  1. dirty bird cageRemoving the bottom tray of a bird cage. You can both clean a bird cage and leave the birds more or less undisturbed simply by disengaging the bottom portion. By releasing the four small clips along the base of the top section that slide into slots on the base, you can remove the bottom of the cage where all the bird poop, leftover seed, and pinfeathers have fallen. Then, put the top of the cage back where it was located, but with a couple of sheets of newspaper to prevent stains on your furniture or carpeting. Even if it’s a parrot cage, the top of a bird cage rarely needs cleaning. This means you can leave the birds to do their bird business while you focus on cleaning the bottom portion.
  2. filthy bottom of cageUsing baking soda and lemon juice to clean your bird cage. Once removed, relocate the bird cage base to a shower or tub, and spray it down with an odor-removing, environmentally-friendly cleanser. Making your own solution of 4 tablespoonfuls each of baking soda and lemon juice, plus 1 quart of hot water in a spray bottle will do the trick. If you prefer a commercially-available product, Seventh Generation makes an eco-friendly all purpose cleaner.
  3. cleaning solutions and bird cage bottomThe hydrogen peroxide bird cage cleaning method. If you really must have a cleaner bird cage than baking soda and lemon juice can deliver, we suggest straight, 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. A 10-minute soak and a good, strong scrub brush will do just the trick.
  4. vapor steam cleanerA vapor steam cleaner is the ultimate bird cage cleaner. A vapor steam cleaner is for use by the ultimate clean bird cage owner. Steam cleaners clean and disinfect in ways that no mere soap and water can perform, all with the added bonus of not having chemicals and their harsh side effects. This latter is especially important because birds have extremely sensitive lungs. Parakeets can be killed by overheating a Teflon pan, even in a separate room, or carelessly spraying air fresheners in their vicinity.
  5. bottle of hydrogen peroxide in cageFinishing your bird cage cleaning. Once your bird cage is clean, placing newspaper in the bottom will help to maintain the clean. Newsprint may not be fancy, but studies show that the biocides, fungicides, and fast-drying components in newspaper ink act as a germicidal agent. It also seems to eliminate the unpleasant odors associated with a bird’s bodily function.
  6. newspapers lining bottom of cageA word of caution when cleaning a bird cage. Bird fancier’s lung is a hypersensitive, immune system reaction, also called hypersensitivity pneumonitis. It is the result of a severe allergic reaction to bacteria found in bird feathers and excrement. In fact, people have been known to die from it. The disease is, at present, incurable, though steroids may help symptoms abate. Take precautionary measures to ensure you don’t risk your health for the remainder of your days. Wearing a mask while cleaning isn’t a bad idea.

Tips for Making Your Bird Cage Something Special

If you’re a guy, you are probably willing to settle for a plain, right-off-the-shelf, plastic-coated wire cage from PetSmart or Petco. That’s cool, as long as you’re kind to your birds.

If you’re female, or just feel inclined to dress it up, you might like a boutique birdcage, with colored tissue paper for the bottom liner, and stretchy, pink chiffon or tulle as a cage wraparound to keep your noisy little darlings from flinging seed, feathers, and poop around the room. Any fabric store worth its salt will have the 2/3 to 1.5 yards (depending on fabric width) that you need, if you want to make it yourself. Both chiffon and tulle are sheer enough to allow lots of air to pass through, which is vital to keeping your birds healthy. Only run the liner 3/4 up the side of the cage. Any higher and the birds will get claustrophobic and mean. You can make it as long as the cage is high, and roll it down to the appropriate height. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can easily do it by hand using fairly small stitches and doubled thread. If you can’t sew, use decorative basting pins to hold it together. However, make sure the points face the outside of the fabric so the birds can’t get to the pins and hurt themselves.

Green Solutions for Bird Cage Cleaning

bottles of poop-offPoop-Off. Doctors Foster and Smith make a product called Poop-Off that they guarantee for birdcage cleaning. It is non-toxic, yet contains powerful enzymes to remove set-in stains. We found the first part of that statement to be the true, but the second only partly so. If you have an antique birdcage, like a wooden birdcage, you may have to resort to sanding to get the stain out entirely. You can order bottles of Poop-off from Amazon.

bottle of nature's miracleNature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Remover. Nature’s Miracle makes this stain and odor remover that is safe for use on birdcages, and thus safe for birds, other pets, and small children. Biodegradable and non-flammable, it works on wire, glass, Plexiglas, and metal birdcages, as well as perches and cat litter pans.

spray can of Clean And Green cleanerClean & Green All Natural Cage Cleaner for Birds. This Clean & Green product reportedly cleans and removes even powerful odors, while remaining safe for pets, people, and the planet. Made from cane sugar derivatives, the aerosol spray cleaner contains botanical extracts and hydrated cellulosic cleaning agents. The propellant is nitrogen-based, so it’s safe for the ozone layer.