Parrots have sensitive respiratory systems. So, owners must be cautious about which products they use to clean cages and the home in general. Certain chemicals can release toxic fumes that make parrots very unwell.
Parrots can be harmed by cleaning products that contain ammonia, bleach, chlorine, phenols, or PTFE. Use all-natural solutions like white vinegar and baking soda. Alternatively, use parrot-safe cleaning products, such as Poop-off, F10, GuanoFix Plus, and Johnson’s Veterinary Clean ‘n’ Safe.
When shopping for cleaning products, don’t assume that pet-safe means bird-friendly. These labels are often written with more traditional companion animals in mind. Find out which cleaning products are parrot-safe.
Safely Cleaning a Parrot Cage
If you live with a parrot, you’ll need to clean its cage regularly. In addition, as your parrot will likely fly around your home to exercise, you’ll need to keep your home clean.
Many store-bought cleaning products are dangerous to birds because they release fumes, and the swallowing of chemicals may leave your parrot feeling sick (or worse).
So, what cleaning supplies are safe for parrots? It’s not necessarily a case of choosing one cleaning brand over another, although that may apply. However, it’s more important to understand what ingredients are used in cleaning products.
Safe Cleaning Products to Use Around Parrots
As parrots spend most of their days in their cages, hygiene is essential. Inside, a parrot will eat and defecate. If left uncleaned, the cage will quickly become a breeding ground for germs and bacteria.
The safest option is visiting an exotic pet store and purchasing cleaning products created with parrots (birds) in mind. These items won’t contain any dangerous substances.
Recommended specialist cleaning products include:
- 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 are too expensive for your budget or unavailable, you may need to improvise with traditional household items.
Here are some examples of parrot-friendly cleaning products:
You’ll rarely go wrong with dish soap to clean your parrot’s cage.
The majority of over-the-counter soaps are bird-friendly. A handful of caveats still apply, though. You’ll need to select a mild soap, dilute it heavily, and use it sparingly.
Dish soap will most commonly be used on your parrot’s food and water dishes. Use a soft cloth and don’t scrub too hard. This risks leaving grooves in the dish, in which harmful bacteria can grow and multiply.
Equally, you must take the time to wash any dishes thoroughly, which involves removing any trace of bubbles that your dish soap would otherwise leave. If a parrot swallows dish soap, it may experience a stomach upset or digestive issues.
A parrot-safe alternative to dish soap is Castile soap. This natural product is made from various oils – mainly olive oil. Dilute it to a ratio of 1 part Castile, 10 parts water, and use it as carefully as you would a standard dish soap.
Is Fabuloso safe for parrots? It’s uncertain whether Fabuloso is bird-friendly or not. With this in mind, err on the side of caution and avoid this product around your parrot.
How about other brands that are geared toward natural, non-toxic ingredients? Is Perfect Green safe for parrots? There’s no reason to suspect that this wouldn’t be the case as there’s nothing overtly dangerous in the product.
Are Method cleaners safe for parrots? The good news is that method cleaning products won’t release any toxic chemicals or fumes that could damage avian lungs.
White Vinegar, Grapefruit Seed Oil, or Apple Cider Vinegar
White vinegar is recommended. Vinegar is nature’s way of eliminating bacteria, so dilute some and dab it on your parrot’s cage. Wash it off afterward, and allow time for the scent to evaporate.
We’re talking about pure white vinegar because anything else sold as a foodstuff, such as malt vinegar, isn’t bird-friendly. Consider using apple cider vinegar (ACV) instead if you dislike white vinegar. Dilute the ACV to a 1:1 ratio.
Grapefruit seed extract or essential oil is another option. Like ACV, it won’t kill any bacteria in your parrot’s cage.
Baking soda is bird-friendly, but it’s also a potent abrasive. Sprinkle this on the cage floor, then wipe it away with a damp cloth or a towel. Don’t leave baking soda around for your parrot to peck at or swallow.
Alternatively, mix baking soda with water and apply 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.
Baking soda isn’t always as effective as a disinfectant. Monitor your parrot and maintain a regular cleaning schedule.
A dedicated steam cleaner enables you to clean your parrot’s cage without harming its delicate lungs. Steam cleaning will strip away poop, decaying food, and mess that dish soap and water can’t.
Steam cleaning could be used in conjunction with other approaches, too. Disinfectants and heating in the home can dry out a parrot’s skin. Too much humidity through steam encourages mold growth.
Toxic Household Cleaners for Parrots
You’ll need to read the components of each product carefully and ensure that it doesn’t contain anything untoward.
You need to keep the following away from your parrot:
- Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)
- Phenolics (aka phenols)
Let’s take a look in more detail:
As discussed in Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine, parrots are prone to upper respiratory disease. This is because the breathing system of a companion bird is so delicate, and aerosols can aggravate this, sometimes fatally.
Parrots don’t have a sense of smell to rival a cat or dog, but it’s still superior to humans. So, the use of aerosols can be distressing to your parrot.
Inhaling fumes, especially CFCs, can be lethal. Never spray antiperspirant or air freshener around your parrot. Better yet, don’t use them in your home. 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 your parrot’s cage. If you must use these cleaning materials, move your parrot to another room.
Once the scents have dissipated, you can consider bringing your parrot back into the area.
Carpet shampoos often cause problems due to the fumes that these products emit. Equally, parrots may land on a carpet while exercising.
Your parrot may consume some carpet cleaner from the fibers. There’s also the risk that your parrot will get chemicals trapped between its claws. Parrots lick and nibble at their feet, increasing the risk of ingestion.
Parrots must be kept away from bleach. The fumes found in bleach are dangerous to parrots, and the aroma of diluted bleach is intense, and the risk of respiratory disease is ever-present.
Many owners line their parrots’ cages with towels, which provides them with somewhere soft to play, land, and sleep. However, you need to be careful with laundry detergent.
Wherever possible, use an unscented detergent. Your laundry should be done with unscented tide pods because this reduces any risk of detergent remnants clinging to the soft furnishings.
If you’re going to use chemicals to clean your windows, don’t use a product that contains ammonia. The chemical is lethal to parrots and takes quite some time to dissipate.
We recommended baking soda, white vinegar, and organic apple cider vinegar to clean a parrot’s cage. The same can also be used to clean glass and windows.
Use homemade parrot-safe cleaners to keep your home sanitary. You can use bird-safe cleaning products, such as Poop-off, but it’s best to put your parrot in a separate room before using most cleaning agents.