Because your bird doesn't have the choice to leave the cage when it gets too dirty, it's important you keep their cage clean. There are a number of issues that can arise from poor sanitation. Droppings and old food on surfaces can be a source of mold and bacteria growth that your bird can come into contact with. Even when collected in a tray below, these may be stirred up into the air by your bird and can contribute to poor air quality that irritates their lungs.
You should remove your bird from the cage when cleaning it. Also, cleaning with fume-producing cleaners should be done in a separate room.
To make sure your bird has a long, healthy life, you'll want to make sure to keep all aspects of the bird cage in sanitary conditions, including:
- Liners: Your bird’s cage should be lined with paper that's changed daily. Other linings, like wood shavings, have problems with fumes, moisture retention, and have a risk of complications from ingestion. There are specially-made paper cage liners available at pet shops, but most newspapers are printed with a non-toxic ink, so they're an acceptable option as well.
- Cage surfaces: You'll want to remove droppings on a daily basis. You can use a mixture of half water and half white vinegar or a specially-made cleaner. Once a week, all surfaces should be washed with soap and water. Once a month the cage should be disinfected for 10 minutes with a specialized avian disinfectant or a mixture of one part bleach to 10 parts water. Toys and perches should also be disinfected unless they're made of wood or a porous material.
- Food and water dishes: Dishes should be washed daily and disinfected once a week. You can simply run them in the dishwasher. Water dishes should be washed even more frequently if food and droppings make their way into it, especially since water with such materials in it rapidly promotes bacteria growth.
For more advice on bird cage sanitation or caring for your feathered friend, refer to our Smart Pet Guide.