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Home > Birds > How to Clean a Pet Bird: 7 Vet-Reviewed Steps

How to Clean a Pet Bird: 7 Vet-Reviewed Steps

budgie on a bird bath green bird

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Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’re a new bird owner, you might have noticed that they sometimes try to “dip” into their water tray, or sit in it rather than just sip from it. Birds are natural groomers and enjoy taking baths to keep themselves clean. As a pet bird owner, there are steps you can take to help your birds take a bath, too!

Keep reading to find our guide on how to clean your bird.

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How to Clean a Bird in 7 Simple Steps

1. Be Patient

The number one way to scare and traumatize your bird from bath time is to force them into bathing when they’re not ready. Birds will bathe on their own time when they’re ready.


2. Provide a Bath

Try attaching a little bath basin to the side of their cage or a bowl of water at the bottom so they can pick and choose when they’re ready to try bathing himself. The water shouldn’t be too cold or too warm but instead at a comfortable room temperature.

Your bird might prefer bathing in your sink rather than in a cage. Pool lukewarm water into your sink and let their natural instincts take over. If your bird is quite small, pour some water into your cupped hands and let them try bathing there.

yellow bird in bird bath
Image Credit: VitCOM, Shutterstock

3. Shower Together

Another option for cleaning your bird is to bring them into the shower with you. Birds are naturally social creatures, and many will enjoy having a shower with their owners. You can find avian-specific shower perches and sprayers to use during your showers.

If you decide to try showering together, you’ll need to exercise extreme patience. Your bird may benefit from watching you in the shower before you try taking them in there with you. This may help your bird realize that a shower is a safe place. Temperature control is important, as birds cannot tolerate hot or cold showers.


4. Mist With Water

If your bird doesn’t take a bath in their cage and doesn’t like showering with you, you can try misting them with water. Use warm water in a brand-new spray bottle to ensure there is no chemical residue from other products that could be unknowingly poisoning your bird.

orange bird canary in bird bath
Image Credit: Stanislav71, Shutterstock

5. Use Water Only

While there are bird shampoos on the market, they aren’t necessary to get your bird clean. They don’t have shampoo in the wild, so they don’t need it in captivity. Birds produce a special oil from their uropygial gland that they use during preening. This oil can become stripped if you use harsh soaps and detergents.


6. Dry Off

When your bird has finished their bath, they’ll start drying on their own. Your job is to make sure that the room they’re drying off in is a comfortable temperature. Do not use a hairdryer as it can burn their skin. Air drying will allow the feathers to dry and rearrange themselves naturally. This will help their features to become waterproof again after their bath.

Birds take quite a while to try off so make sure you bathe them during the morning or afternoon, so they have time to dry off before bed. We recommend choosing a time of day when it’s warm to ensure your bird won’t get a chill during or after their bath.

a baby turquoise parrotlet bird perching on human hand
Image Credit: JTKP, Shutterstock

7. Clean Their Cage

It’s no secret that birds are messy little things. They poop wherever they want and drop food and feathers all over the place. If you want to keep your bird clean after their bath, you need to make sure you’re doing your due diligence with your cage cleaning duties.

Do a quick spot clean every day to remove droppings and food, and commit to doing a deep clean once every week. You can use an enzyme spray from the pet store to clean and neutralize odors. A white vinegar and water mixture is another great DIY cleaner you can use to clean your cage.

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How Often Should I Bathe My Bird?

You can offer your bird a bath every day. Some will enjoy a daily bath, while others will prefer only to bathe on occasion. It’s best to encourage them to bathe often to keep their feathers and skin looking and feeling healthier; fortunately, most birds need minimal encouragement to take a bath. If it is your first time bathing them, try offering a bath once or twice a week until they get the hang of bath time.

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It’s important to build a grooming routine that your bird enjoys, though most birds don’t need much encouragement and naturally enjoy baths. Don’t force them into bathing if they’re not ready yet. With a little bit of patience and encouragement, a skittish bird should eventually learn to enjoy bath time.


Featured Image Credit: Vyaseleva Elena, Shutterstock

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