The majority of people who care for parrots are aware of the hazards of employing potentially harmful chemicals around birds. Lists of UNSAFE items are rapidly appearing everywhere. Because of their sensitive respiratory systems and the fact that parrots use their beaks and tongues to examine EVERYTHING in their surroundings, birds are especially susceptible to harmful goods. So, hazardous kennel disinfectants are out, and bleach is questionable, so what do you use? As a result of your requests, let’s have a look at what IS safe to use to clean your bird’s habitat.
Excellent news! Products that are both safe and effective are right at your fingertips! You want something that will kill germs, viruses, molds, fungi, and protozoa when cleaning your bird dishes, toys, perches, and cages. One of the most successful methods is to use steam. Steam cleaners come in a range of sizes and costs, and they leave no residue behind. Of course, never use steamers with birds in the cage! Steam cleaning cages, toys, and perches once a week is a fast and simple method to clean. Adding a spoonful of salt to the water increases the amount of steam produced. As the steam disappears, good steamers leave no puddles. To work on problematic locations, many steamers come with a scrub brush or sponge.
Dishes and toys placed in the dishwasher benefit from the same heat/water theory. For best efficiency, choose the warmest setting (not “energy saving”). Autoclaves are used in medical institutions to sanitize medical devices using steam heat. We manually wash our bird bowls with a nontoxic dish soap and scrubbies before putting them in the dishwasher. You may also include bottle brushes, sponges, and scrubbies for dishwasher disinfection.
Spot cleaning with white vinegar or lemon juice may be done in between steaming. Acrylic cages should be cleaned by spraying them with a vinegar water solution and wiping them off with paper towels. Citrus and industrial cleansers will cloud acrylics, while vinegar will not.
GSE® (Grapefruit Seed Extract) is an excellent all-purpose cleanser. According to the packaging, I use 10 drops per quart of water as a cleaning soak or spray. Citracidal®, a natural quaternary component derived from the seed and pulp of certified organically cultivated grapefruit, is included in GSE®. The bioflavonoids (polyphenolics) are transformed into an extraordinarily powerful chemical that has been shown to be very beneficial in a variety of applications. It’s very concentrated, so a little goes a long way.
Although I recommend feeding organic fruits and vegetables whenever feasible, even these need washing. Contaminants are removed by soaking in a GSE® solution and cleaning with a little nail brush. If you don’t think fresh produce is “dirty,” soak a few pieces in a glass of GSE® and water for 20 minutes, then examine the brown residue on the bottom of the glass! Yuk! Lemon water is also a good soak. Squeeze 12 lemons into a basin of water and set aside for 20 minutes. A little sea salt on a brush may be used to scrub root vegetables or difficult-to-clean items.
I usually wait 15-20 minutes before washing off any of these natural solutions for optimal germicidal activity. Despite the fact that I still thoroughly clean all surfaces, none of the vinegar, citrus, or GSE® residue is hazardous. If you use sea salt as a scrub, be sure to rinse thoroughly since salt may be dangerous to birds.
If you want a more “official” cleaner, there are now a variety of safe industrial cleaning solutions on the market. Check out your local health food shop and carefully study the labels. Citrus oils, GSE®, and other acidic compounds are commonly used to make these products. Whatever you choose, remember to follow the instructions and contact the manufacturer if you have any concerns about safety.
Cleaning, like most things in life, is about simplicity and safety. Don’t jeopardize your bird’s health by using toxic products. We can effectively protect our birds from microorganisms the old-fashioned way – it’s simple, inexpensive, and you can rest assured that your birds’ health is not jeopardized. Have fun cleaning!
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