Cleaning Your Birdhouse

Cleaning and maintaining your houses will not only reduce parasite problems and increase occupancy and bird health but will also keep your houses useful longer!

Do you need to clean bird houses?

Upkeep of your bird house is a very important step in attracting birds, and to helping maintain bird health. Old nests can contain bacteria and mites. If you don’t clean out your bird house before each nesting season, there’s a chance that disease could spread to the birds who visit or inhabit the house afterwards. Additionally, the presence of an old nest may discourage new birds from choosing to nest in your house. Cleaning and maintaining your houses will not only reduce parasite problems and increase occupancy and bird health but will also keep your houses useful longer!

When should you clean out your bird house?

We recommend that you clean your birdhouses out a minimum of once a year. Cleaning prior to nesting season is a priority but nesting boxes can be cleaned out after every brood has fledged.

How to safely clean your bird house

Here are a few helpful tips to get you started:

  • Open the clean-out door of your bird house and clean out any old nesting material or debris. We recommend wearing a pair of garden gloves or rubber dish-washing gloves when handling old nest material as it can contain bacteria and mites.

    • Check for signs of mold or mildew. If your house shows the beginnings of mold or mildew, you can clean it with a diluted bleach solution (9 parts water to 1 part bleach) or an unscented dish soap and warm water solution to keep the mold from spreading or permanently staining your house. To prevent the spread of disease and help keep young birds healthy, we recommend taking the time to follow this step even if mold or mildew are not present. A quick scrub can help prevent mold and mildew before it becomes visible as well as help eradicate any bacteria or parasites that may cause harm to the birds. Rinse well, open the door, and thoroughly air dry.

    • Inspect your house for damage. If your house has a hanging cable, how does it look? Give your bamboo or cedar house a once-over. A small crack doesn't necessarily mean your house isn't functional but be sure to fill any large cracks with wood sealant to prevent any precipitation from getting into the house during inclement spring and summer weather. Check all the screws and be sure to tighten any that may have worked loose throughout the season. Remember, birds will still use a house that isn't perfect, but you do want to ensure the house is safe.

    How to mount your bird house

    Once your house is ready for occupants, be sure to install it in a good location. See our guides for mounting your bluebird house and mounting your wren house for the best chance at bird occupancy.

    Replacement parts for bird houses

    Now is best time to order any needed replacement parts for your bird house. Some parts on Nature’s Way birdhouses are available for purchase on the replacement parts section of our website. If you need a part that is not listed, please contact us with your model number and the part you need to replace.

    A note about bat houses

    This information applies to bat houses too! A quick check of your bat house parts and cleaning out any residual debris (like an unwanted wasp nest) are the first steps in attracting bats to the house. You can find information on how to mount your bat house on our website.

     

    If you have further questions on getting your bird or bat house ready, you can contact us and we will do our best to help!

     

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    Comment on this post (16 comments)

    • Nature's Way Bird Products says...

      Hi Jane,
      Birdhouses and nesting boxes should be cleaned at least once each year. Cleaning should be done prior to nesting season in the spring or, if your bluebirds have already started nesting, you can wait until the babies have fledged and then clean it out. This type of maintenance will reduce bird parasite problems and help keep the nest box useful longer. All the best!

      February 17, 2022

    • Jane says...

      We have had bluebirds in one specific birdhouse continuously for a few years. They winter in it too, so I don’t see an opportunity to clean it out because I’m afraid of running them off. Is there a time we could catch it to clean it out without scaring them away?

      February 17, 2022

    • Nature's Way Bird Products says...

      Hi Kent,
      Birdhouses and nesting boxes should be cleaned at least once each year. At minimum, cleaning should be done prior to nesting season in the spring so you could wait until then. This type of maintenance will reduce bird parasite problems and help keep the nest box useful longer. All the best!

      November 22, 2021

    • Kent says...

      I live in michigan and I have blue birds that seem to be staying year around. I see them occasionally for long stretches, not all the time. I am going on 2.5 years now. I am not sure if I should at some point get things cleaned out of their house? Coming into winter I’m afraid to clean out the nesting material especially as the weather gets much cooler. Thanks for your advice.

      November 22, 2021

    • Nature's Way Bird Products says...

      Hi Mike! Although a creative solution we would recommend sticking to the cleaning methods we outline above for our products. Happy birding!

      October 07, 2021

    • Mike says...

      Might sound dumb but I think it could be good.
      After cleaning as described above how about a couple of minutes in a microwave to really eradicate any unwanted material?
      Thoughts……

      October 07, 2021

    • Nature's Way Bird Products says...

      Hi Penney,
      If the birds using your birdhouse are in any stage of breeding you don’t want to disturb their process by cleaning out your house. If they are, you can safely clean out the house once the brood has fledged. All the best!

      March 25, 2021

    • Nature's Way Bird Products says...

      Hi Carrie! If you are sure the most recent brood has fledged, it would be safe to clean out your house. Our cleaning instructions refer to our houses so, as we don’t carry ceramic products, I would also advise you to check your specific product instructions before cleaning. Happy Birding!

      March 25, 2021

    • Penney says...

      We are in Dallas Tx . I have a bird house. I love watching the birds come and go. I am very confused. When should I clean it out????

      March 25, 2021

    • Carrie says...

      I have ceramic bird houses. Can I remove twigs and was out and put back up in Spring. There were birds wintering in them.
      Thank you,
      Carrie

      March 25, 2021

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