Ultimate Guide To Safely Cleaning Your Birds Cage (With Vinegar)

Published by Joseph Calabrese on

A nice clean cage makes for a happy and healthy bird.

Regularly and effectively cleaning the cage will prevent bacterial growth that, if ignored, would make your bird very sick.

Especially if they spend hours in the cage as most pet birds do.

In this article, you’re going to learn how to clean your bird cage in the safest, easiest, and most effective way possible to ensure your bird is living in a healthy environment.

I’m going to teach you the daily cage cleaning tasks as well as how to effectively deep clean the cage.

You’ll also learn how to make a homemade bird cage cleaner using only vinegar and water.

But first, let’s discuss how often you need to clean the cage.

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How Often Do You Need To Clean Your Bird’s Cage?

Short answer: As often as needed.

There is not one cage cleaning schedule that will fit all bird owners, each bird carer will have a different cleaning schedule.

This is because how often you need to clean the cage depends on many factors:

  • How often your birds are inside the cage
  • The size of the cage
  • How many birds you have in the cage

A large cage that’s housing a single bird will need to be cleaned far less than a smaller cage with multiple birds.

The more birds you have, the more mess they’ll make inside the cage.

And a small cage will get soiled much faster than a larger cage.

how to clean bird cage
(Image Credit: Pixabay)

Some owners need to do deep cage cleans once a week while others are fine doing it once a month.

As a basic rule, you simply shouldn’t let the cage get too dirty.

When you notice poop, food, dust, or general mess building up inside the cage, it’s probably time for a deep clean.

Supplies You’ll Need To Clean Your Bird’s Cage

Before you can actually start the cage cleaning process, you’ll need some supplies:

  • Vinegar (White or Apple Cider)
  • Scrub sponges
  • Hard bristle brush
  • Sandpaper (primarily for natural wooden perches)
  • Spray bottle (not essential)
  • Sunlight

It’s a good idea to have all these things set out before you start cleaning your bird’s cage.

If you aren’t planning to wash the perches today, you won’t need the sandpaper as it’s not used on the cage.

Also, the spray bottle is only useful for spraying water or the vinegar disinfectant on the cage.

But the same result can be achieved by scrubbing.

How To Make A Homemade Bird Cage Cleaner

Luckily, homemade cage disinfectants are not hard to make.

In fact, you only need two essential ingredients:

  • Water
  • Vinegar (apple cider or white)

A simple vinegar solution is all I use to clean my cockatiel’s cage.

I also use that same vinegar solution to clean rope and wooden perches inside the cage.

(My cockatiel on his wooden perch)

Grab a bucket, and add an equal ratio of water and vinegar (apple cider or white).

Stir the mix using your scrub sponges.

You could use more or less vinegar if you choose, but more vinegar will make the disinfectant stronger and more effective.

A bleach solution is also a good homemade cage cleaner.

Since bleach is pretty strong, you won’t need to add much to the water.

Probably about 1 cup of bleach for every 5 cups of water.

However, bleach fumes are very toxic to birds so the cleaning must be done in another room or outside.

Vinegar on the other hand, when properly diluted in water, is not toxic.

In fact, birds can even drink and benefit from small amounts of apple cider vinegar.

For these reasons, I always use an apple cider vinegar solution when cleaning the cage as opposed to bleach.

How To Clean The Bird Cage Daily

Before discussing how to deep clean your bird’s cage, I first want to explain the cage cleaning duties that must be done daily.

These tasks can be done with your bird inside the cage:

Replacing the cage liner – Many, if not most bird owners use paper on the bottom of the cage as it’s easy to replace. It’s definitely the best bird cage liner in my opinion. If you use paper or newspaper, simply remove the old paper and replace it with fresh pieces. It’s important to do this daily to prevent poop or general mess from building up on the cage floor.

Wash food and water bowls – This doesn’t directly relate to the cage, but it’s a daily chore nonetheless. Food and especially water bowls need to be washed daily to prevent harmful bacterial growth. You can do this by simply rinsing with hot water. If you decide to use a bit of antibacterial soap, make sure all soap residue is properly rinsed away before refilling the bowl.

Spot clean the cage surfaces – Use a wet wipe or a damp towel to wipe messy cage surfaces at the end of the day. This also includes the perches and toys. Try to remove any visible poop, food, and general mess. By removing visible mess from the cage every day, you’re making it easier on your future self when you need to deep clean the cage. You’ll also need to clean the cage less often.

I would also suggest wearing a face mask while cleaning, especially if you own dusty birds.

Cockatiels and cockatoos are among the dustiest of birds.

Excessive inhalation of bird dust can lead to health problems, such as bird lung.

Besides, I’m sure we all have a few face masks around the house nowadays.

How To Deep Clean Your Bird’s Cage (Step-By-Step)

Deep cleaning your bird’s cage is very important.

Deep cleaning involves disinfecting, rinsing, and drying the entire cage.

This process I’m about to walk you through can work for small, medium, and large cages or aviaries.

I do a deep clean on my cockatiel’s cage once every 2 weeks.

how to deep clean bird cage

But depending on the cage size, how many birds, and how often the birds are inside the cage, you might need to do this more or less often.

I recommend doing a deep clean whenever you notice the cage getting dirty.

Again, I would suggest wearing a face mask.

Step 1: Remove All Accessories From The Cage (Including Bird)

Deep cleaning the entire cage is much easier when it’s empty.

Perches, toys, bowls, floor liner, and of course, the bird, should all be removed before taking the cage to a cleaning location.

Once everything is removed, you should be left with a completely bare cage.

Step 2: Remove Any Visible Solid Waste

Take the cage to your cleaning location and start removing any solid waste that you can see.

This primarily includes poop and food waste.

The homemade vinegar disinfectant will work better when there’s no solid waste to get in the way of the deep cleaning.

You can remove the solid waste using a wet wipe or damp towel.

For super tough poop stains, you could use a hard bristle brush.

However, you shouldn’t even allow poop stains to become so tough that you can’t remove them, that’s a sign that you may need to clean the cage more often.

Step 3: Create Your Homemade Cage Cleaner

As mentioned, the homemade disinfectant I and many other bird owners use is a vinegar solution.

That vinegar solution is an equal ratio of apple cider vinegar and water.

You could also use white vinegar.

Mix the solution thoroughly in the bucket.

Step 4: Thoroughly Scrub The Cage

Once you have your cage bare, vinegar solution mixed, scrub sponges nearby, and you have the cage in an ideal cleaning location, you’re ready to start scrubbing.

Note: It’s best to do the cleaning outside or in the bathroom to help contain the mess.

How long it takes to scrub the entire cage depends on the size of the cage.

It also depends on how many removable trays are on the cage because these trays and grates need to be scrubbed as well.

Most cages only have one removable tray at the bottom, but others have one at the top.

Use the scrubby sponge or hard bristle brush soaked with the vinegar solution and put some elbow grease into every corner of the cage.

Try to squeeze the sponge hard into the tight crevices to ensure they’re sanitised.

Dried poop is very good at hiding where the bars are welded to the cage, so make sure you scrub there as well.

If you have those small slide-up doors on your cage, scrub them when they’re opened.

Scrub the entire cage thoroughly, and then move on to the next step.

Step 5: Rinse The Cage With Water

You can choose to leave the vinegar solution on the cage to dry off naturally in the next step, or you could rinse it off with water in this step.

Just to be safe, I’ll always rinse the vinegar off.

You could use an outside hose or shower head with high pressure to rinse the cage.

If you have a drain outside, place the cage over the drain so the vinegar gets washed away.

You’ll also need to rinse the removable trays separately as leaving the tray on the cage will cause the tray to fill up with water, instead of being rinsed away.

Also, don’t rinse the cage over grass/dirt ground as it will become muddy, which will make the cage dirty again.

The cement floor outside is where I do all my cage and perch cleaning duties.

Step 6: Let The Cage Dry Outside

Letting the cage dry outside for a few hours is one of the last steps in this deep cleaning process.

It’s also the easiest step.

Simply leave the cage outside in direct sunlight for a few hours until dry.

My cage usually only takes 2 – 3 hours to completely dry, including the removable tray and grate.

Not only will sunlight dry the cage, but it’ll also sanitise the cage even further.

And if you decided to use a bleach solution instead of vinegar, the sunlight will help remove toxic bleach residue from cage surfaces.

After a few hours of drying, you’re pretty much all finished!

Step 7: Return Accessories To Your Birds Cage

Once your bird’s cage is completely sanitised, rinsed, and dried, you can return all accessories back to the cage for your bird to use.

Take this opportunity to switch things around for a more interesting and varied cage style.

Your bird’s cage doesn’t always need to be set up the same.

Place perches, toys, and bowls in different locations.

This will encourage your bird to explore its freshly cleaned cage in a different way than normal.


And that’s the end of this cage cleaning tutorial!

I hope you found this helpful, but before you click off this page, I want to mention a few things that you may want to know.

Firstly, you are not limited to cleaning the cage with the tutorial above.

There are MANY effective ways to clean a bird cage, but I just gave you the easiest method 😉

For example, some people use a hand-held steam cleaner on their cages.

Others use baking soda or as mentioned earlier, bleach.

These are effective cage cleaners, but I personally believe making a vinegar solution is the easiest way to go.

I just want you to know that my way isn’t the only way.

how to clean bird cage


Heated vinegar can produce toxic fumes that won’t agree with your bird’s sensitive respiratory system.

Not that you would need to heat up vinegar while cleaning, I just thought you should know.

One last thing…

While you’re deep cleaning your bird cage, you should let your bird hang out somewhere else.

Perhaps you could perch them on a kitchen chair, a table, or another cage.

If you have a wooden tree stand, that’s an amazing hangout spot!

Definitely don’t try to deep clean the cage with the birds still inside, it just won’t work.

If you’re interested, view some of my other cage maintenance guides:

How To Effectively Clean Rope & Wooden Bird Perches

What To Put On The Bottom Of A Bird Cage (Bird Cage Liner Guide)

Full Guide To The Best Cockatiel Cage Set-up



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