Cleaning

Cleaning your parrot’s cage is very important in keeping them healthy. It can also aid in helping you monitor their droppings to make sure they are healthy.

When you clean their cage it’s important to NOT use any kind of chemical cleaners or bleach! These are toxic to your parrot and will make them sick or kill them.

The cage lining should be changed at least once a week along with spot cleaning of the cage itself. It’s also important to clean out food and water dishes regularly to keep mold from growing in the water and little bits of food from going stale.

Taking the cages apart once every other week or so to deep clean them is a great way to ensure they are always clean.
Start taking the tray out of the cage and throwing away the dirty pieces of paper that are used as cage lining, then put the tray in the bathtub or outside on the lawn for further cleaning. Next, take the grate out of the cage and also place it into the tub. Then take the actual cage out of the base and place the base into the tub. Once the tray, grate, and cage base are in the tub it’s time to turn on the hot water and get scrubbing!

I use natural chemical-free dish soap or vinegar and a scrubby sponge to clean the cage pieces and rinse them with hot water. After the cage pieces are clean, remove everything (all the toys, food dishes, perches, water bottles, snuggle hut) from the actual cage and place the cage in the tub along with all wooden perches. Again using the dish soap or vinegar, scrub the cage and perches and rinse well with hot water. If the perches are covered with droppings they may need to soak for a bit before being scrubbed. Dry everything really well (let perches air dry), then it’s time to reassemble the cage, add fresh cage lining and place toys and perches in new fresh areas, this helps keep your parrot stimulated.

I have found that using vinegar to clean the perches works better than dish soap just dilute it really well with water.
Vinegar is great for killing bacteria without making your parrot sick, just be sure to rinse really well.

Cleaning cloth snuggle huts are simple too. Some throw them into the washer, but I’ve found that they keep their shape and last longer if you hand wash them in warm water and let them air dry or throw them into the dryer by themselves.
​Either way, you choose to wash it, use a dab of natural dish soap or detergent, and rinse really, really well.


GENERAL CLEANING
​There are so many different cleaning solutions out there and most all are toxic for parrots.

When cleaning the house I use natural cleaners and essential oils. These don’t contain toxic chemicals or odors, but still get the job done as well as cleaners that do contain chemicals.

I have tried many natural cleaners and these are my favorites: Seventh Generation natural cleaners (although I don’t like their wipes), Mrs. Meyers clean day, Dr. Bronners pure castile soap, Young Living Thieves cleaner, Thieves Essential oils & Now essential oils.
I do not like Clorox Green Works. The scents are very artificial and give my husband and me headaches.

One thing to keep in mind is to never use the self-cleaning setting on your oven. The self-cleaning process causes your oven to reach unsafe temperatures that allow harmful toxins to coat the air. This is toxic for you and will kill your parrots.
Vinegar and baking soda do wonders on ovens and stovetops. Add in some freshly squeezed lemon for a fresh, clean scent.
Never use bleach when cleaning. This is extremely toxic for parrots.

Instead of using fake, toxic chemical-scented air fresheners in your home that will kill your parrot, try diffusing essential oils or bringing a couple of cinnamon sticks and slices of apple or a few slices of lemon to a boil for a fresh, clean scent that will fill the house.

Grooming

Bathing is very important for the health of your parrot. Some parrots love to bathe and some don’t.
If your parrot loves to bathe don’t discourage it! It’s very beneficial for the health of their feathers and skin.
Some parrots enjoy bathing in a sink with the water running down on them, others enjoy bathing in a bowl of water, and others like being misted by a spray bottle. These are all great ways for your parrot to keep their feathers fresh and for some, it helps to keep the dust down.

Certain parrots such as Cockatiels, Cockatoos, and African Greys have powder down feathers. These feathers turn into dust when the parrot preens, causing problems for some people and other birds who have respiratory problems.
Frequent bathing of these parrots and running an air purifier will help keep dust levels down. (do not use an ion or ozone air purifiers)

If your parrot doesn’t enjoy taking a bath, don’t give up on them, they may soon come to enjoy bathing.

Do not use any kind of soap or spray that says it’s for bathing birds (unless prescribed by a vet)
Soap and sprays that are available to buy at stores can really mess up the bird’s feathers and their natural oils.

Do not use any kind of oil or lotion on your parrot either. The natural oils that come from the parrot’s oil gland or wick feather (small white feather by the base of the tail) help to make the parrot’s feathers waterproof and healthy so their body temperature stays consistent and balanced.
If you add soaps or oil to their feet or feathers it will throw off the natural oils and your parrot could freeze to death. Literally.
So let them bathe in just plain water, nothing else.

It’s also important to keep in mind that your parrot should not bathe before bedtime.
Letting them bathe and then putting them to bed could cause them to get sick or freeze.
If you can, let them bathe sometime in the morning or afternoon, that way they will be able to dry themselves off and possibly sunbathe near a window for warmth.

Preening is another way that parrots clean themselves. It allows them to coat their feathers in natural oils from their wick feather and helps them to keep free from bugs and other irritants.
Parrots can be overcome with the need to preen, so much so that they may even preen you!
In the wild parrots preen each other, so when you bring them into your home and they see you as their flock you can expect to be preened!
Preening is an act of love and should never be discouraged unless they start baring a hole into your skin or they try to take off a mole or freckle that’s not going anywhere 🙂

CLIPPING WINGS
Many people have strong opinions about clipping a bird’s wings.
Some think it’s cruel to clip a bird’s wings because it takes away their ability to fly. Some think that it is a kindness to clip a bird’s wings because it keeps them from flying into windows, landing on a hot stove, etc…

If you have other pets (dogs, cats) it’s probably a good idea to not clip your bird’s wings because if your bird would need to get away from a cat or dog they would be able to fly away.

We have dogs, and although we don’t let the birds out when the dogs are in, we don’t clip their wings. I would hate for them to get loose somehow while the dogs are in and not be able to get away.

Each person will have their own personal preference, but I recommend clipping their wings if you have a new bird. It will make training, taming & bonding easier. The flight feathers will grow back a few months after they have been clipped.

If clipping your bird’s wings is something you’d like to do here’s how:
You will need scissors, a towel, & an extra pair of hands.

Have your extra pair of hands lightly hold your bird in a towel and gently fan out its wing. Observe your bird’s wing and determine where to clip it (along with the picture above) Only cut the primary flight feathers (this will not hurt your bird) Repeat with the other wing.

If you don’t want to do it yourself, avian vets are able to clip wings.

TRIMMING NAILS

Trimming your parrot’s nails is pretty simple.
You want to make sure you keep their nails trimmed, as long nails are a hazard.

You will need to have a good pair of clippers. Now human toe or fingernail clippers will not work, you will need clippers like the ones here.
You want to use cuticle cutters because they are straight and easy to clip the parrot’s nail without getting it caught or having to angle the nail into an odd position which could hurt your parrot’s foot. If your parrot’s nails are too large for these cutters, use regular pet cutters like these.

You’ll want to have some styptic powder with you also just in case you do clip too high on the nail.
Like with clipping a parrot’s wings, you’ll want an extra pair of hands. Wrap your parrot in a towel and gently unwrap its foot, cut each nail one at a time. (using the picture as a guide) Don’t cut too high or else they will bleed. If your parrot has a light-colored or clear nail you will be able to see the vein.

If your parrot has dark nails it’s a little harder to tell where the vein is. The picture at the side is a nice guide to help know where the vein is on dark nails.

If you don’t feel comfortable clipping your parrot’s nails or have a difficult parrot, contact an avian vet.

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian. The material on this site is not intended to be, and should not be relied on as, a substitute for professional advice. Read my full disclaimer.

Sprouting Organics is an offshoot of Willowbottom Homestead, a website about our homestead where we share practical ways to help save the environment through Eco-Friendly & Sustainable living.