How to Clean a Hummingbird Feeder

Backyard birdwatchers share their tried-and-true tips to keep sugar water safe for their favorite fliers.

Hummingbirds hover around a feederGetty Images

Keeping hummingbird feeders clean is a vital aspect of feeding and attracting the birds to your yard. Hummingbirds are more likely to drink from a routinely clean feeding station, but it’s healthier for them as well. Most hummingbirds would rather find a fresh source of nutrients than drink nectar that’s gone bad, so it’s important to keep your feeder clean if you want to continue enjoying their visits.

Check out these five fascinating facts about hummingbirds:

Follow these simple steps to maintain a fresh and clean hummingbird feeder:

Hot Water and Vinegar

“Scrub the feeder with a brush and then fill with a hot water and vinegar mixture,” says Cher Loskota of Mountain Home, Ark. “Let it soak, rinse well and then air dry before filling.” Here’s the perfect tool for hard-to-clean containers.

Rotate Hummingbird Feeders

“I have several feeders so that I can swap them out for cleaning. I soak them in bleach and water to get the black residue off. Then I use Q-tips to scrub the holes and small nooks. Rinse thoroughly!” says Lu-Ann Tucker of Wareham, Mass.

Keep Hummingbird Feeders in the Shade

“Feeders are easier to keep clean if they’re hung in the shade. Mold growth slows significantly,” says Barbara Cameron of Cogan Station, Penn. These are the eight mistakes you’re probably making with hummingbird nectar.

Reuse an Old Toothbrush

“Wash (feeders) with very warm water and scrub with a toothbrush,” says Emily Eigenbrode of Frederick, Md. Feeders aren’t the only way to attract hummingbirds.

Clean Hummingbird Feeders Often

“I clean hummingbird feeders every three days, especially in hot humid weather, using hot water, a natural cleaner and a special bent brush for hard-to-reach places,” says Gayla Metzger of Battle Creek, Mich. Here’s the best time to put out your hummingbird feeder.

Just Add Rice

“I put 1/4 cup of rice and 1/2 cup of hot water in a feeder and shake it. The rice is abrasive, so it cleans the inside of the feeder,” says Kerry Rose of Valleyford, Wash.