How to Clean a Hummingbird Feeder

hummingbird feeder and cleaning items

The Spruce / Candace Madonna

Overview
  • Working Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs 20 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Cleaning a hummingbird feeder is easy if you take it one step at a time. All it takes is a quick disassembly and a good scrubbing in warm soapy water. You don't need harsh chemicals or any special tools other than a bottle brush for the nectar reservoir and a smaller bristle brush that fits into the feeding ports.

You will know your feeder needs a cleaning when the nectar is cloudy or discolored or has floating insects or debris. It also needs a cleaning if the feeding ports are clogged or mold is growing on the feeder. You can clean one feeder at a time or multiple feeders at once.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Bottle brush
  • Small bristle brush
  • Soft, clean cloth or paper towels (optional)

Materials

  • Dish soap
  • Hummingbird nectar

Instructions

materials for cleaning a hummingbird feeder
The Spruce / Candace Madonna 
  1. Disassemble the Feeder

    Carefully remove the base and detach all connected 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.

    step 1: taking apart the hummingbird feeder
    The Spruce / Candace Madonna 
  2. Drain the Old Nectar

    Pour out the old nectar from 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.

    rinsing out the feeder
    The Spruce / Candace Madonna
  3. Scrub the Reservoir

    Scrub the feeder's reservoir thoroughly using a mild dish soap solution. Both the inside and outside of the feeder should be thoroughly clean. 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.

    scrubbing the hummingbird feeder reservoir with a bottle brush
    The Spruce / Candace Madonna 
  4. Drain the Feeding Ports

    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.

    unclogging the feeder ports
    The Spruce / Candace Madonna 
  5. Scrub the Feeding Ports

    Scrub inside the ports thoroughly with a small bristle brush or toothbrush. If possible, clean the ports from both ends. 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.

    If you do not have a small bristle brush, a pipe cleaner will work.

    scrubbing the outside of the feeding ports
    The Spruce / Candace Madonna 
  6. Rinse Thoroughly

    Rinse the reservoir, base, and ports thoroughly with clear, clean water for at least 10 seconds to remove all soap residue. Rinse both the inside and outside of the feeder until there is no feeling or odor of soap remaining.

    draining the old hummingbird nectar
    The Spruce / Candace Madonna 
  7. Dry Thoroughly

    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. 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.

    Do not reuse the same cloth on any dishes for cooking or eating, to prevent contamination from mold or feces.

    hummingbird feeder parts in a drying rack
    The Spruce / Candace Madonna 
  8. Reassemble the Feeder

    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 repaired or replaced.

    reassembling the hummingbird feeder
    The Spruce / Candace Madonna 
  9. Hang the Feeder

    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!

    hanging up the hummingbird feeder
    The Spruce / Candace Madonna 
Article Sources
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  1. Maintaining a Hummingbird Feeder. Sea & Sage Audubon Society