Cleaning Schedule

Daily Tasks

Weekly Tasks


See also Time Commitment for an estimate of the amount of time spent caring for the birds, including cleaning and food preparation.



Weekly Cleaning Tasks

Walls, Perches, and Nestboxes | Plexiglas | Accessories | Floor | Reward the Birds | A Note on Disinfecting

Once a week, I perform a thorough aviary cleaning. This weekly cleaning is much more intrusive than the daily maintenance tasks and usually takes between one and two hours to complete. If I have a particularly hectic schedule on a given week, I can usually cut a few corners and get everything done in less than an hour, but I only do this if I must.

Tip: If you have a large (but not too deep) aviary, you may want to install shades that partition the aviary into sections. This will reduce the stress on the birds as well as make your job a whole lot easier. In general, if you are working on one side of the aviary, the birds will fly to the other. You can then lower a shade and work freely without worrying about the occasional fly-by. Since the birds can't see you behind the shade, they will be happier as well.

UPDATE: Using a shade to partition the aviary has worked extremely well for me. It is not fool-proof, as the occasional trouble-seeker will sneek under the shade; however, it is still a lot easier and quicker when the area I am working in is partitioned off.

Walls, Perches, and Nestboxes
Oxyfresh Cleansing Gele - A safe detergent for cleaning aviaries that also has disinfectant properties.

Droppings are washed from the perches and the nest boxes with soap and water (I use Oxyfresh Cleansing Gele, now available online from Oxyfresh Worldwide), then rinsed clean. I no longer use nestboxes, in a very effective effort to inhibit breeding. However, if you do use them, nest boxes need to be disinfected or replaced on occasion (every couple of months or when very dirty). They should be cleaned as thoroughly as possible each week as illness is likely to spread from an infected bird to another bird sharing the same nestbox. Since moving my birds to the new aviary over a year and a half ago, I have had no contagious illnesses pass from one bird to another. I attribute this mostly to the removal of the nestboxes.

Oxyfresh can also be used as a disinfectant if prepared at the proper strength and exposed to the clean surface for five minutes.

Soap and water is also used to wash the droppings from the walls and other surfaces within the aviary. If there are any stubborn droppings, sometimes spraying with the vinegar/water solution described below and letting sit for a minute before washing will loosen the droppings a bit.

From time to time I cut a corner and just wipe down the perches with water - and only where there are droppings. This helps me get through weeks that are unusually busy. This is only used when necessary, as I believe a full wash with soap and water is more effective at eliminating bacteria, but if you keep the aviary clean, going a week without a soap and water cleansing will do no harm as long as the droppings are removed.

A solution of vinegar and water. An inexpensive glass cleaner that is safe for both Plexiglas and the birds. I pour it into an empty glass/surface cleaner bottle for convenience.

Plexiglas panels are cleaned with a solution of 2 tablespoons vinegar to 1 quart water. I pour it into an empty spray bottle, spray it on the Plexiglas, and wipe clean with a dry towel. Always use a soft cloth, such as an old dish towel, to clean Plexiglas. Paper towel will scratch the surface over time. The vinegar-water solution is nice because it is cheaper than surface cleaner, it will not cloud the Plexiglas like many glass cleaners will, it does not have any fragrances or chemicals that could be toxic to the birds, and it works. I like it so well, I use it to clean all the glass in my house.

As mentioned above, the vinegar and water solution is also effective for softening stubborn droppings. I will occasionally use it to loosen droppings that have stuck tight to the aviary walls.


The seed hoppers, water dispensers, bird baths, quail bath, and other removable accessories are all removed and replaced with clean ones after the floor is cleaned. The contents are discarded and replaced with fresh seed/sand/water/etc. The dirty ones are rinsed off and then washed in the dishwasher.


If paper is used, the remaining paper should be removed from the floor and any spilt seed, hulls, bedding, and nest material should be swept from the floor. I used to use a shop-vac, left over from the days when I used a bedding material on the floor, but you must be very careful not to vacuum a startled bird. Shop-vacs are very handy when you use bedding/litter on the bottom of the aviary, but they are overkill if you use paper. (Also, shop-vacs kick up dust, so I run an air cleaner with a HEPA filter on high while vacuuming.) I currently use a heavy-duty dustbuster. The dustbuster is more convenient, but toward the end of the cleaning, it starts to loose its charge and doesn't pick up as well, more so as the dustbuster ages. When I replace it, I will probably replace it with a corded unit so that I don't have problems with the battery draining.

Once the floor is exposed and clean of debris, I wipe it down with soap and water and dry it with a towel (note: this task does not need to be performed every week and can be skipped if your schedule is busy. However, I used caulk to seal the aviary floor, and if I go too long without washing the floor, the caulk gets very hard to clean). A new layer of paper is then laid down for the new week.

Tip: Lay down a week's work of paper so that at the end of each day you only need to remove the top soiled sheet, exposing a fresh layer of paper beneath it.

If bedding is used, ideally all the bedding should be vacuumed and replaced each week. However, this is very expensive if you have a large aviary floor, so many people just spot-vacuum or vacuum the top layer, then add fresh litter over the old. A complete litter change is put off for a longer period (eg, once a month).

Reward the Birds
After the weekly cleaning, the birds flock to a fresh spray of millet.

When I am all done, I hang up fresh millet sprays for the birds. They know it is coming and their enthusiasm for this treat makes me believe all is forgiven.

A Note on Disinfecting

Disinfecting an aviary is a tricky business. Many of the disinfectants that are toxic to the bacteria that can reside in the aviary are also toxic to the birds. Those that are not tend not to be as effective. Bleach is one of the most potent disinfectants, but it cannot be used when the birds are in the aviary and the aviary must be thoroughly rinsed and aired out before the birds can return.

Because of the impracticality of relocating the birds to disinfect, I use Oxyfresh products to disinfect my aviary. Oxyfresh is safe to use while the birds are present. Oxyfresh is available in the concentrated form of Dent-a-gene. This product emits toxic fumes when it is mixed, so you must not mix the solution in the presence of your birds, but after the solution is prepared, it is safe. Dentagene must remain in contact with the surface being disinfected for a minute in order to be effective. Alternatively, you can use a concentrated preparation of Cleansing Gele and water (1 tablespoon to 1 quart of water). Cleansing Gele must remain in contact for 5 minutes before it is effective, however. The downside of Oxyfresh products are that they are not cheap. For more information, see this article by Ross Bishop reviewing the different options available for disinfecting aviaries: Biosafety in the Aviary.

I used to disinfect on a regular basis. I now believe that this may not be a good thing. As long as the aviary environment is kept clean, my birds have done fine without regular disinfecting. The idea is that exposure to some bacteria is healthy, as it helps the birds build natural immunities. This does, of course, assume that the aviary is kept clean so that the bacteria does not have a chance to build up in large numbers. If illness should strike, however, then I believe disinfecting is very important to deter the spread of the illness.

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