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How to Clean a Birdhouse (7 Easy Steps)

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bluebird perching in birdhouse

If you’ve spent some time creating a lovely birdhouse for these fascinating creatures, you are probably wondering how to keep the birdhouse in good shape. Bird lovers worldwide know how important it is to maintain a safe and clean environment for the new nesting birds. Like cleaning a birdfeeder, a birdhouse has to maintain a certain standard to attract a family of birds.

Since these creatures tend to choose a perfect location for nesting season—safe from predators and other birds, sheltered from bad weather, and clean enough to keep the eggs safe—a birdhouse has the potential to serve as an ideal home.

If you want to learn how to keep your birdhouse clean, there are a few easy steps to take, and you can find them in the article below.

hummingbird dividerWhy It Is Important to Clean Your Birdhouse

Cleaning your birdhouses from the previous season should be a part of regular maintenance, ensuring you have a new family of birds nesting in your birdhouse in the upcoming season. If you want to make the birdhouse appealing to newcomers, a clean and nurturing environment will help you achieve that.

Besides creating an attractive shelter for the birds, cleaning the birdhouse will also ensure their safety and the safety of their young. Suppose you leave old nests in your birdhouse to sit through the following season. In that case, hazardous pathogens, bacteria, and diseases can develop and seriously harm the potential family that will inhabit the birdhouse.

wall birdhouse

Image Credit: Nora Vellinga, Pixabay

How Often You Should Clean Your Birdhouse?

There is no specific answer to how often you should clean your birdhouse. It would be ideal to clean it at least once a year, although a general rule is to clean the birdhouse every time one species’ young ones leave the nest. This way, you prepare the birdhouse for the upcoming nesting of another species. Before removing the nest to give the birdhouse a thorough clean, ensure that the birds have left the nest entirely; you wouldn’t want to disturb the nest if birds are still returning to the same spot. It would be wise to observe the birdhouse for a few days to ensure no more activity around the old nest.

birdhouse holes

Image Credit: Franz W., Pixabay

Before You Begin

To be fully prepared for this project, you will need to acquire several items before cleaning the birdhouse. The tools and materials you should gather beforehand are:

  • Diluted bleach solution (one part bleach, nine parts water)
  • A scrubbing brush or toothbrush
  • Toothpicks
  • Tools for adjusting or repairing the birdhouse (optional)
  • Safety equipment

Other than the essential tools and materials required, it is necessary to take all the safety precautions when working with bleach, as it is a strong chemical that can be hazardous if not handled properly. Rubber gloves and a mask are necessary to ensure you don’t come into contact with or inhale any strong odors from the bleach. The nests can also be filled with pathogens, mites, or some diseases, so protecting your skin while cleaning the house is vital.

hummingbird dividerThe 7 Steps To Clean a Birdhouse

1. Take down and disassemble the birdhouse

The first step is to carefully take down the birdhouse, disassemble it if possible and assess its state. If necessary, dismantle the old rusty hinges or screws, and replace them with new ones. If your birdhouse has a roof or one side that flips open, that will make the entire process much easier, as you could easily open only one side and clean the inside of the birdhouse.

Cleaning a birdhouse

Image Credit: theapflueger, Shutterstock


2. Remove the old nest

The second step would be to take out the old nest and any leftover material that the birds used to build that nest. Most bird species don’t inhabit old nests but prefer to create their own nests from scratch. It is best to dispose of the old nest in a plastic bag to prevent parasites or pathogens from spreading.


3. Scrape off the accumulated dirt, debris, or fecal matter

Using an old toothbrush, scrubbing tools, or toothpicks, make sure to scrape off accumulated fecal matter or any debris that may be stuck inside. If any drainage holes or ventilation holes are clogged, make sure to clean those as well thoroughly.

hand inside the birdhouse

Image Credit: Beekeepx, Shutterstock


4. Clean the birdhouse with a diluted bleach solution

After emptying the birdhouse and cleaning all the dirt collected over time, it is time to disinfect the birdhouse with a bleach solution. The most efficient way to clean the birdhouse and disinfect it from bacteria is to create a solution of one part bleach and nine parts warm water. You can use a spray bottle to spread the bleach on the entire surface or dip the cleaning brush into the solution and scrub the surface. Cleaning all the crevices, corners, and entrance and drainage holes is essential.


5. Thoroughly rinse out with clean water

After you finish cleaning, it is crucial to rinse the bleach entirely off the birdhouse. You can use a hose or a bucket for this step, whichever is more convenient. Make sure to clean it thoroughly to make sure there are no traces of bleach left on the wood that could potentially harm the birds.

wren birdhouse

Image Credit: Danny Korves, Shutterstock


6. Let the birdhouse dry in the sun

It is vital to let the birdhouse dry completely before putting it back up on the tree. Setting it in the sun will allow it to dry entirely, preventing the growth of mold and mildew. This step is crucial because if there are traces of moisture inside your birdhouse, it could be the perfect environment for mold to develop.


7. Make repairs and adjustments if needed

The final and optional step is to assess your birdhouse’s state after the cleaning and possibly replace broken pieces or hinges. Some boards may have become loose after washing, so you may need to replace or add new screws. Paint may have chipped off after using bleach, so if you’d like, you can give your birdhouse a new coat of paint to give it a polished and fresh look.

man holding birdhouse

Image Credit: Gleb Usovich, Shutterstock

hummingbird divider

Final Thoughts

Creating and maintaining a welcoming shelter for unprotected birds can be among the most rewarding feelings, especially during nesting season. Once you witness one species of birds nesting in your backyard, due to your own creation, you will want to always maintain a safe home for them. With these easy steps, you will have a clean and fresh birdhouse, ready for the upcoming nesting season and the new family of birds.

Cleaning a birdhouse may be a tiring process; however, it is a necessary part of regular maintenance that will ensure you always have a family of birds living in your backyard.


Featured Image Credit: Sari ONeal, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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