How to Clean a Hummingbird Feeder

  • 01 of 10

    Assemble Feeder Cleaning Supplies

    Hummingbird feeder with cleaning supplies
    Melissa Mayntz

    Cleaning a hummingbird feeder is easy if you take it one step at a time. First, assemble the supplies you need to clean the feeder, including:

    • Dirty hummingbird feeder(s) - If the nectar is cloudy, discolored or has floating insects or debris, the feeder needs to be cleaned. Similarly, if the feeding ports are clogged or mold is growing on the feeder, it must be cleaned. You can clean one feeder at a time or multiple feeders at once.
    • Assorted large and small brushes - An old toothbrush is useful for getting into crevices, while a bottle brush will scrub the reservoir. A small bristle brush is essential for thoroughly cleaning feeding ports. If you do not have a small bristle brush, a pipe cleaner will work.
    • Soft cloth - This can help you wipe the feeder's exterior to keep it attractive and free of dirt, debris, and feces. A cloth rag, dishcloth, sponge, or even paper towel will work. Do not reuse the same cloth on any dishes for cooking or eating, however, to prevent any contamination from mold or feces.
    • Cleaning chemicals if desired - Chemicals are not essential for cleaning a hummingbird feeder, but gentle dish soap can be useful to be sure the feeder is thoroughly sanitized. Bleach should be avoided.
    • If you prefer not to use chemicals, use very hot water and consider soaking the feeder to ensure it is fully clean. 
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  • 02 of 10

    Disassemble the Feeder

    Hummingbird feeder in sink
    Melissa Mayntz

    When you are ready to clean the feeder, carefully remove the base and detach all parts to disassemble the feeder as much as possible. If the nectar has crystallized and the base cannot be unscrewed, soak it in hot water for 10-15 minutes to loosen it. Detach insect guards, perches, ant moats, and any other removable parts so the feeder can be thoroughly cleaned. Do not, however, force any parts to separate that may not be meant to be disassembled.

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  • 03 of 10

    Drain Old Nectar

    Hummingbird feeder in sink
    Melissa Mayntz

    Drain the old nectar out of the reservoir and discard it. If preferred, this step can be done outside, but do not spill nectar on pathways, patios, or decks where it may leave a sticky stain that will attract insects or other pests. While draining the feeder, check for crystallized sugar or clogged feeding ports.

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  • 04 of 10

    Scrub Reservoir

    A hummingbird feeder in soapy water
    Melissa Mayntz

    Scrub the feeder's reservoir thoroughly using a mild dish soap solution. Both the inside and outside of the feeder should be thoroughly cleaned. A bottle brush can be useful to get inside the reservoir to remove any stuck-on residue or mold, while the soft cloth or sponge can clean the outside to keep the feeder sparkling.

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  • 05 of 10

    Drain Feeding Ports

    Draining a hummingbird feeder
    Melissa Mayntz

    Drain any remaining nectar from the feeding ports and base, checking for buildup, mold, or clogs. You can run clean water through the base to check the flow of liquid and ensure there is nothing blocking the nectar. This will also help rinse any built-up sugar or debris out of the narrow feeding ports.

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  • 06 of 10

    Scrub Feeding Ports

    Brush scrubbing feeder clean
    Melissa Mayntz

    Scrub ports thoroughly with a small bristle brush or toothbrush. If possible, clean ports from both sides but take care that no bristles break off to clog the ports. Even if it seems as though the ports are clear and clean, this step is essential to remove any particles of mold or fungus that could quickly contaminate a clean feeder or new batch of nectar.

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  • 07 of 10

    Rinse Thoroughly

    Water pouring on hummingbird feeder
    Melissa Mayntz

    Rinse the reservoir, base, and ports thoroughly with clear, clean water for at least ten seconds to remove all chemical residue. This is especially critical if you've used soap to clean the feeder, as all traces must be removed to keep hummingbirds safe. Rinse both the inside and outside of the feeder until there is no feeling or odor of chemicals remaining. Rinsing also clears away any other debris that was dislodged while cleaning.

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  • 08 of 10

    Dry Thoroughly

    Clean feeder air drying
    Melissa Mayntz

    Allow the feeder to air dry thoroughly so nectar is not diluted when it is refilled. You can put the feeder parts in a dish drying rack or lay them out on a dry cloth or paper towels if preferred. To help the feeder dry more quickly, wipe each piece down with a dry cloth before allowing it to air dry the rest of the way.

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  • 09 of 10

    Reassemble the Feeder

    Feeder disassembled
    Melissa Mayntz

    Reassemble the feeder by reattaching all the different parts, ensuring each one has a snug, secure fit to minimize feeder leaks. If any parts are broken, they should be replaced or repaired.

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  • 10 of 10

    Hang the Feeder

    Hummingbird feeders hanging in the yard
    Melissa Mayntz

    Refill the feeder with fresh, clean nectar and hang it in an area visible to hummingbirds. Very soon, it will once again be a popular feeding spot as a charm of hummingbirds takes advantage of this great food source!