Feeder Cleaning Question

harlgr8dane(5b ON)July 17, 2008

OK, I have been religiously cleaning my feeders every 3 days during hot weather according to FAQs...except now my DH went to the neighbours and they told him they only clean theirs once a week "and they are getting lots of hummers too"...so I re-read all the FAQs and on the hummingbird society sites etc etc etc. Obviously I don't want to hurt the birds with rancid nectar etc.

Deep down I feel if its not broken don't fix it - however every 3 days IS alot of work - do all of you really every clean feeders every 3 days? I am in zone 5b.

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hummersteve

Yup! In hot weather 90+ even more so.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 1:24PM
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donnalovesblue

Ditto...yes, it's time consuming but essential in extremely hot weather...some of my feeders get alot of sun during the day, so I try not to fill them too full, and I change those once a day!!!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 6:33PM
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harlgr8dane(5b ON)

ok, donna when you say CHANGE do you mean change the nectar, or do you mean CLEAN the feeder, or just changing the nectar which would be fast and easy. But I have been cleaning the feeders by cleaning with a diluted vinegar solution every 3 days. and then every 2 weeks cleaning with diluted vinegar solution then following with a diluted bleach solution.
am i doing too much

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 7:46PM
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mbuckmaster(7B/NC)

I change my feeders every other day here in NC. That means I dump out the old spoiling nectar, rinse it out with hot water and a scrub brush, and refill with fresh nectar. I clean with soapy water every third change or so (unless I start to see any black spots--a sign of mold that can harm the hummers). I do a vinegar bath every once in a while too, and before I hang them in March and after I take them down for good in November. I don't use bleach as I've read it may be harmful if you don't dilute it enough...bleach is strong stuff. Some people also don't like using dish soap, but I just rinse very well afterward and my hummers are OK.

So I'd skip the bleach cleaning and only use the vinegar every second week or so, unless you see any mold. Of course, if your feeder has a lot of nooks and crannies, a scrub brush may not be able to scrub everywhere, and a vinegar bath may be your only option to keep them fresh and mold-free for your hummers.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 7:56PM
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medontdo(8)

also bleach is not good for our skin, its bad for our bodies, i hope that when you use bleach that you do use gloves, i read somewhere that when you use bleach that it slowly is toxifying your body, i only use a little bit in my laundry for my towels.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 9:52PM
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hummersteve

For cleaning I have a bottle brush and a range brush and a toothbrush for tight spots. Mainly its hot water or soapy water ,sometimes a little vinegar. If I have some difficult mold forming I will put a little amonia in cup and dip the toothbrush in it and use it sparingly but it will clean tough areas, just be sure to rinse well after. I dont use bleach at all.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 9:27AM
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phloxmom

It's pretty hot here in Ga. so I tend to clean my feeders every three days in vinegar diluted in very hot water, then I rinse them again in very hot water before refilling.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 12:38PM
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civicminded0400

What I usually do is if its over 90 I refresh the nectar and rinse the feeder every day, if its between 80-90 I may spread it to every two days, Once a week or so I soak the feeders and disinfect them. I would like to spend the money and get dishwasher safe feeders, it would be so much easier.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 9:53PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

My husband bought me a fancy feeder, the glass is textured and colored. Anyway, its gets the little black mold spots and is hard to clean. The feeder obviously wasn't designed for easy cleaning... anyway...

One trick, that we use when cleaning those fancy feeders, is to fill the feeder with a small handful of bb's (bb gun pellets), a tiny drop of dish soap, a splash of vinegar, water and then shake vigorously until the black spots are gone. Sometimes I may have to repeat it a couple times. The bb's really help scrub in the nooks and crannies where I couldn't get a brush. Make sure it you thoroughly rinse all of the soap out...before refilling.

As far as regular cleaning, usually I just rinse with hot water about twice a week. And maybe once a month, I will use the soap and vinegar. And I only use the bb's if I have spots that can't be reached with a brush. (I don't have a dishwasher, else I'd probably try that...)

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 2:41PM
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aleksandras(7 NC)

I think it's best to purchase feeders that are easy to clean. I wash my feeders with soap every other day, the entire process don't take more than 5 minutes (including filling it with nectar). I use inexpensive, very easy to clean feeders "First Nature". In Walmart it cost around $4-5 (depending on the size). The entire thing can be cleaned with a sponge - no brush is needed. I never use vinegar.

Here is a link that might be useful: First Nature Hummingbird feeders

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 9:28AM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Be careful with that red dye. I have read many times that it is not only harmful, but not needed at all.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 9:30AM
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aleksandras(7 NC)

This is a picture from the manufactor's site, it is not mine! I don't use it - mainly because it's more expensive than sugar water :)

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 3:03PM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Oops aleksandras! Sorry.

Funny that I did not see the model number in the upper corner until you mentioned that.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 5:17PM
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debgrow(Z5 Chicago)

I am in zone 5. I clean mine twice a week if it's really hot (over 90 several days in a row), once a week if it's cooler. I have several hummers that visit my feeders consistently multiple times a day all summer long. I clean the feeders with warm water, and a small brush if the old solution looks cloudy, if there is a film on surface of the solution, or if there is any visible film or black spots on the inside of the feeder. I don't use bleach or vinegar. I'm sure you probably could, if you were really careful to rinse well afterwards, but it's a bit more maintenance, and seems not to be necessary in a zone where it's a bit cooler.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 5:31PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I certainly agree that is best to purchase feeders that are easy to clean. I would have never bought the hard to clean feeder, and I was too polite to tell my hubs to "take it back, I ain't cleaning that thing", but it is pretty to look at...
and its become the hummers favorite feeder, they empty that one first...

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 3:57PM
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catlady4444(7)

I am new to Hummers, but I have to stick my nose in.
If you see black spots, you know you have a problem. But if you don't see black spots, that doesn't mean there aren't microscopic fungal colonies stuck on the sides of your feeder. It seems to me that you should be cleaning just as thoroughly each time to be sure you remove every single micoorganism. Otherwise your clean nectar has a jump start on being nasty. After all, that's why we're boiling the nectar.
(darn newbies!)
love the BB idea!
Ann

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 8:42PM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

I wash mine (Humzinger brand) and refill with fresh nectar every other day. If themps are in the 90s I do it every day.

I wash in regular dishwashing liquid and rinse well. The Humzinger is very easy to clean. I never have seen a sign of mold. The manufacturer recommends running thru the dishwasher with a load of dishes. My birds protest violently if the feeder is missing that long, so I wash by hand.

Karen

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 9:21PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

You're never going to be able to remove every single organism. Cripes the world is not a sterile environment...

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 3:33PM
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catlady4444(7)

of course not....but then why boil the nectar? the water looks clean, and so does the sugar.

I just try to make it clean enough to drink out of. I put off feeding hummers for years because I wasn't sure I could handle the maintenance. I have OCD---LOL!

A

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 5:31PM
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ctnchpr

Aquarium gravel or pea gravel could be used instead of the BB's.

I use vinegar to clean, never soap or bleach.

IMO, boiling is a waste of time & electricity. Mold spores fall into the nectar before you can pour it in the feeders, and the nectar is quickly contaminated with bacteria from the hummer's beak and tongue.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 8:57AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

There is a difference between clean and sterile.

Boiling helps the sugar dissolve into the water. IF you don't boil, the nectar is cloudy... I use hot water from the coffee maker, rather than boiling. Its hot enough to dissolve and sterilize, but its not really boiling....

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 10:15AM
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debgrow(Z5 Chicago)

I agree that it's futile to try to get rid of every single organism...even if you could do it by boiling, bleaching and brushing, it would be contaminated immediately when you step outside, and would get worse every time a hummer stuck his beak in it, which for me is many times a day. The idea behind cleaning every couple days is to keep the bacteria under control (not to eliminate it altogether) and to keep the solution from fermenting.

I don't boil my solution. I've done a bit of research on this, and while some sources will tell you that you need to boil the water to kill the micro-organisms, a lot of reliable sources say that you do not need to boil it because it's not the sugar or the water that has all the "germs" in it, it's the beaks of the hummingbirds. That makes a lot of sense to me.

I've discovered that my solution is cloudy if I use organic sugar, but if I use regular old white sugar, and stir it thoroughly, the sugar dissolves and the solution is crystal clear.

I've also read that uncoooked rice can be used to clean the inside of feeders. It serves the same purpose as BB's or pea gravel, and gets into even harder-to-clean nooks and crannies.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 1:54PM
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