Last Updated on: 17th June 2023, 11:20 am
Parrots have highly efficient respiratory systems to assist with flight at high altitudes. This means that bird owners must be cautious about what products they use to clean cages and the home.
Chemicals release toxic fumes that cause breathing problems, sometimes with life-ending consequences. Parrots can be harmed by cleaning products that contain ammonia, bleach, chlorine, phenols, or PTFE.
Instead, use natural solutions like white vinegar and baking soda. Parrot-safe cleaning products like Poop-off, F10, GuanoFix Plus, and Johnson’s Veterinary Clean ‘n’ Safe can also be used.
When shopping for cleaning products, don’t assume that “pet-safe” means “bird-friendly.” The safety labels may be written with other companion animals, like dogs and cats, in mind.
Safely Cleaning A Parrot’s Cage
If you live with a parrot, you must regularly clean its cage to remove feces and rotting food. As a parrot will fly around the home to play and exercise, you must also keep the home clean.
Many store-bought cleaning products are dangerous to birds because they release noxious fumes. Also, swallowing chemical liquids can make parrots sick or lead to death.
So, what cleaning supplies are safe for parrots? It isn’t necessarily a case of choosing one cleaning brand over another. We must understand which ingredients are used in specific cleaning products.
Safe Cleaning Products To Use Around Parrots
As parrots spend most of their days in cages, hygiene is essential. A parrot will eat and defecate, and the cage will become a breeding ground for harmful pathogens if left uncleaned.
The safest option is to buy cleaning products from an exotic pet store free from dangerous substances. Recommended cleaning products include the following:
- Poop-off (the official cleaning choice of the San Diego Zoo).
- Johnson’s Veterinary Clean ‘n’ Safe Disinfectant Spray.
- F10 Disinfectant.
- GuanoFix Plus Avian Disinfectant.
If these cleaning products exceed your budget or are unavailable, you can improvise with traditional household items. Here are some examples of parrot-friendly cleaning products:
You’ll rarely go wrong with dish soap to clean a parrot’s cage. Most over-the-counter soaps are bird-friendly. A handful of caveats still apply, so select a mild soap, dilute it, and use it sparingly.
Dish soap can be used to clean parrot’s food and water dishes. Use a soft cloth, and don’t scrub too hard because this risks leaving small grooves in the dish, allowing bacteria to grow and multiply.
Wash dishes thoroughly to remove traces of bubbles the dish soap would otherwise leave behind. If a parrot swallows dish soap, it may experience digestive issues like stomach pain and diarrhea.
Castile is a parrot-safe alternative to dish soap, a natural product made from various oils (mainly olive oil). Dilute it to a ratio of 1 part Castile soap and 10 parts water.
Is Fabuloso safe for parrots? Whether Fabuloso is bird-friendly is uncertain, so it should be avoided.
How about other brands with natural, non-toxic ingredients? Is Perfect Green safe for parrots? There’s no reason to suspect it would be harmful because it contains nothing dangerous.
Are Method cleaners safe for parrots? The good news is that method cleaning products won’t release toxic chemicals or fumes that could damage birds’ lungs and air sacs.
F10 is a disinfectant widely utilized in veterinary clinics, animal shelters, and animal care facilities. The F10 range kills various pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and fungal spores.
Active ingredients like quaternary ammonium compounds and biguanides kill microorganisms. F10 disinfectants are considered bird-safe when the manufacturer’s instructions are followed.
Only use F10 in a well-ventilated area and let it dry before allowing birds on treated surfaces.
Virkon S is a disinfectant used in animal husbandry to control the spread of disease-causing pathogens.
The active ingredients are potassium peroxymonosulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and sulfuric acid, which combine to kill viruses and disrupt the cell walls of bacteria and fungi.
Virkon S can disinfect bird cages and surfaces but allow them to dry after usage.
White Vinegar, Grapefruit Seed Oil, or Apple Cider Vinegar
White vinegar is nature’s way of eliminating bacteria, so dilute some and wipe down the parrot’s cage. Wash it off afterward, and allow time for the moisture to evaporate.
We’re referring to pure vinegar, not malt vinegar, which isn’t bird-friendly. Use apple cider vinegar (ACV) instead if you dislike vinegar, diluting ACV to a 1:1 ratio.
Grapefruit seed extract can be used but won’t kill bacteria in a parrot’s cage.
Baking soda is bird-friendly, but it’s a potent abrasive. Sprinkle this on the cage floor, then wipe it away with a damp cloth or towel. Don’t leave baking soda for the parrot to peck at or swallow.
Alternatively, mix baking soda with water and add it to a spray bottle—mix 3 tablespoons of baking water in 3 cups of warm (never hot or boiling) water. Apply 3 tablespoons of lemon juice for extra potency.
A dedicated steam cleaner allows you to clean a cage without harming a parrot’s lungs and air sacs. Steam cleaning will strip away poop, decaying food, and mess that dish soap and water can’t.
Steam cleaning can be used in conjunction with other approaches. Disinfectants and heating in the home can dry out a parrot’s skin, but too much humidity through steam leads to mold growth.
Toxic Household Cleaners for Parrots
You’ll need to explore the components of each product and ensure that it doesn’t contain anything untoward. You must avoid using products that contain the following:
- Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
- Phenolics (phenols).
Let’s take a closer look at each of these ingredients:
As discussed in Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine, parrots can get upper respiratory conditions. Unfortunately, aerosols can cause and aggravate respiratory problems, sometimes fatally.
Parrots don’t have a sense of smell that rivals cats and dogs, but it’s still superior to humans. The use of aerosols can be distressing to parrots.
Inhaling fumes, especially CFCs, can be life-threatening. Never spray antiperspirant or air freshener in a parrot’s room. Instead, use a roll-on deodorant and natural scent products.
Be mindful of spraying other cleaning products, like furniture polish.
The fumes can make their way into the parrot’s cage. If you must use these cleaning materials, move the parrot elsewhere temporarily and allow fresh air into the room.
Once the scents have dissipated, you can return the parrot’s cage to its normal location.
Carpet shampoos often cause problems due to the fumes they emit. Chemicals like Perchloroethylene and Naphthalene are commonly used in dry carpet cleaning products.
If you get a carpet professionally cleaned, let the room air out for at least 24 hours, ideally longer.
Parrots must be housed away from bleach due to the fumes emitted, namely hypochlorous acid and chlorine gas, which are extremely dangerous.
The aroma of diluted bleach is intense, and the risk of respiratory problems is ever-present.
Leading detergent brands contain carcinogens, air pollutants, and hormone disrupters, which compromise the air quality of our homes.
Some owners line parrots’ cages with towels, providing them somewhere soft to play, land, and sleep. However, wash anything in the cage with a parrot-safe cleaning substance.
Most laundry detergents contain synthetic fragrances, so personal laundry should be done with unscented Tide pods to reduce the risk of detergent remnants. Also, avoid fabric softeners.
If you use commercial chemicals to clean windows, don’t use a product that contains ammonia because it’s deadly to parrots. It takes about 1 week for ammonia to dissipate.
If ammonia is combined with chlorine-containing water, chloramine gases will be released.
Use baking soda, white vinegar, and organic apple cider vinegar to clean a parrot’s cage and windows.
Use homemade parrot-safe cleaners to keep the home clean and sanitary. You can also use bird-safe cleaning products like Poop-off but put the parrot in a separate room before starting.