How to Clean a Bird Cage
Tips for Pet Owners and Pet Sitters
This week's post serves two purposes. One is to educate, and the other is to remember.
Why do I say that?
Well, my tips about birdcage cleaning seek to educate pet lovers or pet sitters. This month is also the anniversary of my own precious pet's passing, Puffy the cockatiel, in whose memory and in whose honor I began my pet sitting business in 2002. She died in January of 2001 and just about a year to the day later, I started my Precious Pets Pet Sitting business.
The photo above is in fact the infamous "Puffy the cockatiel", sitting in her cage as it looked when we lived out in California. This photo was taken in the mid-1990s.
Every bird owner knows, and every new bird owner discovers quite quickly, that although birds are very adorable and fun, they are also very messy creatures, and they never have "become a less messy bird" as one of their New Year's resolutions, so we have to help them live a clean and healthy lifestyle.
So now, let's talk about my best method for cleaning a pet bird's cage. I hope that in sharing this you will get some helpful tips.
First of all, if at all possible, the bird should be placed in another cage while the cage is being cleaned so you don't have to work around him/her. It just makes more sense and gets the job done quicker. The second cage doesn't have to be super expensive or fancy because your bird won't be in it that long, but it should have a comfortable perch and some water.
Some birds can stay out of the cage on a stand-alone perch to watch the cleaning process from afar. It all depends on how trained your bird is. The whole cleaning process takes fifteen minutes or less, depending on how disciplined you are in cleaning the cage regularly. The dirtier the cage, the longer it takes. I prefer to clean a cage before it starts looking grungy.
Gather your cleaning supplies before removing the bird from the cage to be cleaned.
Remove everything from the cage's interior - the toys, treats, swing, perches, bowls, and all contents and paper from the bottom of the cage. Remove any perches or play gyms attached to the outside of the cage.
Put the perches and anything with a hard surface into a container with hot water and white vinegar. Let them soak while you are cleaning the rest of the cage.
Soak a sponge in a solution of warm to hot water and white vinegar. I'd mix about 1/2 - 1 cup of white vinegar with about a half-gallon of the water in a dishpan-sized container. This is an all-natural, non-toxic way to clean a cage.
Start at the top of the cage and sponge the exterior of the cage first, then the inside, and lastly, do the bottom making sure to get into the corners. Then rinse the cage with water dipped with a sponge that has been moistened only with water. I would avoid using any toxic cleansers but if you do decide the cage needs something more, then use some plain soapy water but make sure to rinse the cage thoroughly and make sure the cage is dried thoroughly with a clean towel before putting the bird back in the cage.
If you want to avoid having to do any heavy-duty scrubbing, then clean the cage in this manner at least once a week. Twice a week if the bird(s) are super messy or if you see a need. It depends on the bird and how many birds live in a cage, so use your own judgment as to what is best. During the other days of the week, you can spot clean the cage as needed and wipe areas down with a wet cloth.
I have found it best, for cleanliness in general, and for the health of the bird, that the cage floor must be cleaned out twice daily - once in the morning, and once at night. This involves removing the paper on the bottom and dumping the waste in the trash and giving it a quick sponge down with plain hot water. Replace the bottom. This can usually be done with the bird still in the cage.
Once you've sponged the outside and inside of the cage, let it air dry as you retrieve the items you have soaking. Scrub off any remaining messes from the items that were being soaked and wipe them dry with a clean cloth.
For the toys that are made of rope, take a nubby towel that is damp and wipe them down and shake them out when they are dry. These toys can be soaked when they need it and then air-dried, so plan on them being outside of the cage for at least a full day. Rope toys need to be inspected for their condition and if any of them seem to be very tattered, toss them out and get new ones. I was always careful with this because I didn't want Puffy or any of the other birds I had (parakeets), or the pets I cared for, getting their toes stuck in the rope toys.
Make sure the cage and all its contents are very dry and items are back in their proper places securely before returning the bird to the cage. Once the bird is back in the cage, clean the floor around the cage with a broom or vacuum.
A regularly cleaned and tidy cage helps birds live longer, healthier lives. Dirty cages also stink and no creature should ever have to live in a dirty cage. Clean cages make your house look and feel better too.
If this process is done regularly your bird will be used to the routine. After I'd have the cage cleaned Puffy would inspect the entire cage, making sure her toys were in their proper places and that her food and water bowls were once again filled with all the goodies she enjoyed.
I hope these tips help. They are really just common sense, but believe it or not, I've been in enough homes throughout my years as a pet sitter and just as someone visiting other people's homes on a social basis, and there have been many birds whose cages have been neglected. I would always come up with a non-threatening way to educate a bird owner about the proper care of cages.
I have always had a strong sense of justice within me and do not tolerate injustices that are done to people or animals. Vulnerable people and animals have no voice, so we must be their voice. More on this topic in a future post.
Thank you for reading this post! You can send comments to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.