Updated at: 18-06-2023 - By: Jane Brody

Wooden bird feeders can be tricky to clean since you have to be careful not to scratch the polish or expose the bare wood.

Wooden bird feeders can be cleaned by first soaking them in a bowl of soapy hot water for five to seven minutes. To be sure, fading paint or stain can cause damage, but luckily, a fresh coat can be applied whenever necessary. Big bird feeders that won’t fit in the bowl should be sprayed with water while being scraped or brushed completely.

How To Clean A Wooden Bird Feeder-2

Wooden bird feeders are more brittle than metal or plastic ones, so you shouldn’t avoid cleaning them when the time comes.

Harder residue can be removed by soaking the wood in a solution of dish soap and water, then scrubbing it with a firm bristle brush or scraping it off with a wallpaper scraper.

Cleaning the exterior of the feeder is just as vital as cleaning the interior, so soak the wooden bird feeders in a soap dish basin of hot water to remove any softened, once-dried-up bird food from the feeder’s hard-to-reach regions.

You should also clean the hanging ropes or chains, any mesh sheets, and any clear windows on the wooden bird feeder.

Obviously this won’t work for all wooden bird feeders, but if yours comes apart, soak it in this solution.

If you have a bird feeder that you can’t completely submerge in hot water, you can still clean it by turning it on all sides for three minutes or so.

Larger wooden bird feeders, such as those that dangle from the ceiling, sit on the ground, or rest on a platform, require soapy hot water to be poured or splashed over them. Also, if you can, let some soapy water sit on the top, as the birds will find it much more enticing.

Making your own solution of 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent water to use for the last rinse of washing the wooden bird feeder will ensure that any remaining bacteria are eliminated.

The use of any of these substances, even in little amounts, would cause noticeable damage to wooden bird feeders with a low-quality paint or stain finish, while a high-quality paint or stain finish would still fade, albeit more slowly.

Cedar bird feeders, in particular, respond well to being cleaned using mild cleaning solutions because of the wood species from which they are crafted. Bird feeders with wood finishes don’t require much upkeep, but repainting them in the future is both a good idea and a necessity.

Disassemble if applicable

How To Clean A Wooden Bird Feeder

It can be difficult to clean wooden bird feeders without scratching the stained or painted surface, but doing so is essential.

The best way to clean a wooden bird feeder is to take it apart and scrub each piece individually. I get that some bird feeders can’t be taken apart at all, so if you have one of those, use your best judgment and see what you can accomplish.

The clear perspex window or metal mesh that slides into either side of a peanut or seed feeder are examples of removable parts for wooden feeders.

If you think something won’t go back together the way it came, don’t try to push it apart and don’t disassemble any extra parts (like ropes or chains used to hang).

When cleaning a wooden bird feeder, you can leave the doors and lids open and give it a good scrub.

Submerging your wooden bird feeder in a soapy bath will allow the soapy water to permeate every nook and cranny.

Submerge in soapy bath

After you have disassembled the wooden bird feeder as much as possible, or at least opened the covers, place it in a tub full of bubble bath water.

If you’ve stained or painted a wooden bird feeder, you should continue to soak it for no more than two minutes in water at a time. If the wood is raw and untreated, you can soak it for up to seven minutes.

Wood preserves are typically applied to the exterior of a wooden bird feeder before it is stained or painted to prevent water from penetrating deeply into the grain.

Submerging paint or wood in a hot, soapy bath for even a short period might ruin a low-quality finish, but it’s necessary to do so in order to remove any stubborn residue and, by extension, harmful microorganisms.

Since there is nothing to shield the grain of a bare wood bird feeder from the soapy water, it may be thoroughly cleaned.

The bare wood bird feeders require a longer soaking time since they are more susceptible to bacteria and the filth that accumulates in the exposed crevices.

Even if over time the hot soapy water will dull the look of the wooden bird feeder, keep in mind that it can always be repainted or treated to restore its former glory.

Splash too big feeders

How To Clean A Wooden Bird Feeder-3

However, I realize that many of you use a much larger, more difficult to clean wooden bird feeder than the ones I’ve been referring to when I talk about cleaning them in a basin of hot bubble bath.

I’m not so narrow-minded as to deny that many hanging-type wooden bird feeders won’t fit in a bowl of soapy water, so here’s what you have to do.

A hot, soapy water is the first step in cleaning a wooden bird feeder thoroughly.

If your bird feeder is too big, you may have to resort to splashing hot soapy water over and within it to loosen the hard residue.

To ensure that all four sides of the bird feeder get soaked, it is best to submerge it in a smaller bowl and rotate it as you soak it.

Wooden bird feeders with a wide opening at the top can’t be submerged in a tub of soapy water, therefore dish washing water will have to be slapped on or poured over the flat surface and let to sit for a while.

If you don’t want to use soapy water to clean the feeder, you can use a pressure washer, which is becoming an increasingly essential gardening tool, or you can use your garden hose after first putting soap dish detergent to the feeder.

After 5-7 minutes of dampening the wooden bird feeder in the best way you know how, you should give it a good pounding.

Scrape or brush off residue

Bird feeders made from wood may start off looking brand new, but eventually they’ll start to exhibit the wear and tear of being exposed to the elements.

Keep in mind that the more frequently you clean a wooden bird feeder, the more harm you will do to its outside. Since it’s constructed from wood, though, a fresh coat of paint or stain can revive the material.

A pointed wallpaper scraper can be used to effectively remove dust and debris off a wooden bird feeder.

While peanuts and seeds will undoubtedly leave a hard, sticky residue, suet can also leave behind a greasy film that must be washed away.

Use a stainless steel scraper to carefully remove any remaining food or grease, and then use a finer scraper or other instrument to retrieve any bird seed that may have slipped into cracks or crevices.

If you can’t get rid of the old bird food residue by scraping it off, a hard bristle brush is a good alternative that’s simple to use.

With the wooden bird feeder still damp from its initial hot soapy bath, brush it inside and out, or across the top of the platform bird feeder’s surface, using the soapy water from the bowl.

Disinfect in vinegar solution

After the hard residue has been loosened and removed, you will be left with a clean hardwood bird feeder.

A mixture of water and white vinegar, in a 50/50 ratio, should be applied to the bird feeder while it is still wet.

Ultimately, you’ll need to use a disinfectant that isn’t harmful to birds to get rid of any germs that remains. Homemade vinegar cleaning agent is all you need, whilst applying it to bird feeders in a soak, but scrubbing it onto the feeding area is all you need.

To make a more potent first solution for soaking the wooden bird feeders, add a few drops of dish soap to a large bowl of vinegar solution.

If your bird feeder is made of raw, open-grain wood, you should probably stay away from bleach solutions that are 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.

Cleaning bird feeders with a strong vinegar solution is only recommended on an occasional basis, as the vinegar can leave a lingering odor (albeit white vinegar has less of an odor than regular vinegar) and the soap dish is the only place it should be used.

The cleaning solution used while making homemade cleaning agents must be rinsed away.

Remove odor in dish soap

Use of a soap dish or a more powerful disinfectant solution manufactured at home can provide a risk-free option for cleaning a wooden bird feeder.

However, remember that dish soap can harden in the joints and cracks of open grain hardwood bird feeders.

The soap residue might leave unsightly stains or patches if it isn’t removed.

If you notice any soap residue after taking a bubble bath, you should empty the bowl and replenish it with fresh, boiling hot water. It’s feasible to just spray a bowl of clean, hot water over the feeders, but a soak of at least a minute will yield better results.

White vinegar, unlike soap, which has a pleasant smell, might leave a vinegar odor in the air.

It’s safe to use, but it has a foul odor and needs to be removed before you’re done.

If there is any remaining vinegar on the surface or in the gain, remove it by splashing or pouring a large amount of boiling hot water over the wooden bird feeder.


In order to clean a bird feeder, and a wooden bird feeder in particular, you should first immerse it in a bowl of soapy boiling water to dissolve any tenacious, hard to remove bird food or food scrap residue.

It’s possible for the finish on wooden bird feeders to bleed into the water over time, but you can always repaint or re-stain them.

Cleaning your wooden bird feeders on a regular basis will remove any leftover food and will prevent the growth of bacteria.

Bird feeders made of wood should be cleaned by immersing them in a bowl of hot, soapy water for up to seven minutes, then scraping or brushing the interior and outside.

It is easiest to remove dry seeds or nut kernels from an inside corner of the feeders if you soak them in hot water beforehand, but it can only be peeled off once it has softened.

It is still important to disinfect wooden bird feeders to get rid of any bacteria that may have settled on their surfaces.

In the time between giving your wooden feeders a bubble bath and drying them, you may give them a good scrubbing using a solution you make out of water and white vinegar. You may use this vinegar solution in the bubble bath if you like; just add a few drops of dish soap to the water to get things bubbling.

After you’ve finished cleaning the wooden bird feeders with soap and vinegar, rinse them off by splashing or pouring clear hot water over them.

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