How to Quickly Clean Tube Bird Feeders

Last Updated on May 11, 2024 by Nancie

American Goldfinches Eating At Nyjer Seed Tube Feeders
American Goldfinches Eating At Nyjer Seed Tube Feeders

How can you quickly clean a tube feeder? It would be great if you could just put up a feeder, fill it with seed and forget it. But there actually is some maintenance involved. Wet moldy seed can collect in crevices and on damp spots. Birds will eat at a dirty feeder if that is where food is found. A dirty feeder can harbor germs and spread disease among the birds that we enjoy so much. So feeders need to be cleaned periodically.

Because I have quite a few feeders, my goal is to make the process as efficient and painless as possible. I don’t want to spend hours scrubbing feeders. So I’ve come up with two strategies to make cleaning feeders quicker and easier.

Buy Easy-to-Clean Feeders

First, I’ve learned the hard way that when purchasing a feeder, I need to pay attention to how it is put together, how it comes apart and how easy it is to clean.

I’ve learned not to just randomly purchase a feeder without reading reviews from people who have actually used them. (I have reviewed quite a few feeders here on my blog.) When reading feeder reviews where people complain that cleaning is a pain, I move on.

A Brush to Quickly Clean Tube Feeders

Second, I figure out the most efficient way to clean each type of feeder. For example, I have four Aspects Nyjer Tube Feeders (which I reviewed in a previous post.) In these, I offer nyjer seed to the flock of American Goldfinches that congregates in my yard every day. These feeders are advertised to be easy to clean, and they are, but I have learned a few tricks for cleaning them quickly.

Songbird Essentials' Best Long Brush
Songbird Essentials’ Best Long Brush

In my local bird store, Mother Nature’s, I saw this cool twenty-four inch Songbird Essentials “Best Long Brush.” It has a wood handle and nylon bristles that “are strong but flexible enough to pass between perches and around seed ports.” I purchased one and gave it a whirl. I was very pleased with it. (2024 Note: Mother Nature’s has just converted to a Wild Birds Unlimited Store.)

Seed Stuck Near Port Inside Tube Feeder
Seed Stuck Near Port Inside Tube Feeder

Easily Clean Out Damp Seed

Sometimes moisture can creep into the ports of tube feeders when there is a heavy rain. Always check feeders for clumped up seed in this area after bad weather!

When a tube feeder is long, it can be tricky to clean stuck seed out of the inside of a feeder tube. This long bristle brush does the trick quickly.

Cleaning Tube Feeder Using Long Brush
Cleaning Tube Feeder Using Long Brush

I simply put the tube feeder in sink with the water running through it. Then I push and twirl the brush through it until the feeder is clean. (You could also do this using a backyard hose.)

I’ve unfortunately seen House Finch conjunctivitis eye disease at my feeders a couple times in the past and it can spread to goldfinches too. So I use a sponge to wipe the feeder’s outside surfaces with a solution of one part liquid bleach to nine parts water. Then I rinse the feeder under the water once more. This kills bacteria that might have been left on the feeder by a sick bird.

Drying Inside of Tube Bird Feeder
Drying Inside of Tube Bird Feeder

Quickly Dry Inside A Tube Feeder

Trying to dry the inside of a long narrow tube feeder can be a pain. You can’t always fit your hand into it and the perches get in the way even if you can. You can let it air dry, but that takes a while. I’ve tried using a hairdryer, but that is a bit tedious as you blow drops of water around inside the tube.

The trick is to instead wrap a light-weight towel around a stick. Push that up into the feeder to quickly dry the inside. In less than a minute, it is dry.

Quick Feeder Cleaning!

So I’ve figured out how to clean a tube bird feeder fast, using the brush to clean inside, a sponge to clean outside and cloth wrapped stick to dry the inside. The whole thing clean is in five minutes. The birds barely have time to adjust to the missing feeder when it is back in service again and filled with birds!

I checked and the Songbird Essentials SE603 Long Brush is available on Amazon. Spend less time cleaning and more time bird watching!

Do you have any tips for cleaning bird feeders? Please share! Got questions? Those are welcome below as well.


For more cleaning tips, also see my posts on:

Taking Care of Birdbaths (about cleaning birdbaths)

Hummingbird Feeder Reviews and Care (including cleaning hummingbird feeders)

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9 thoughts on “How to Quickly Clean Tube Bird Feeders

    1. Hi Wendy,
      Are you using the Aspects Quick Clean Nyjer feeders that I am using or something different? For the Quick Clean feeder, are you talking about the peaked clear plastic piece inside that is meant to divert the seed? I don’t take that off the base. There is a hole in the bottom of the feeder so if it should get dirty up in there I usually just squirt water up there to rinse it out and then let it dry.

      If you are asking how to get the base back on (which is a metal/plastic combo), the black buttons on either side push in so you can slide it back into the tube.

  1. Oh! Mine was so dirty so I took the plastic dome piece off each feeder. But I’m having a really hard time reattaching.

    1. Hi Wendy,
      You might try going to the company’s website and see if you can reach out to them. They might have a tip for how to make it go back on.

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