Why Using Eggshells To Clean Your Hummingbird Feeder Is Not The Smartest Idea

Properly cleaning your backyard bird feeders and keeping them free of bacteria is crucial to offering food to birds, but trying to scrub your hummingbird feeder with eggshells could exacerbate the problem. Because of the unique shape and small crevices of many hummingbird feeders, they can be somewhat hard to clean. Though some online sources suggest that crushed eggshells can be placed in a feeder with water and shaken to rub the grime away, this is probably not your best option.

The idea behind this hack is that eggshells can effectively scrub your feeder because they are abrasive, but they could be too harsh and scratch the plastic or glass of your hummingbird feeder. Also, eggshells may contain bacteria that would contaminate your feeder further rather than washing and disinfecting it. To safely clean your hummingbird feeder, use hot water and dish soap, diluted vinegar, or bleach. You could also place uncooked rice in the feeder with water and shake to scrub those hard-to-reach areas without the risk of eggshells.

Why you shouldn't clean your hummingbird feeder with eggshells

The main reason eggshells aren't the best for cleaning your bird feeder is because they're unsanitary. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the outside and inside of eggshells can contain the salmonella bacteria. When the eggs are developed inside the chicken, the bacteria will sometimes be present before the shell forms around the egg, trapping it inside. There is potential for other bacteria, such as streptococcus, to live inside eggs as well. 

The risk of bacteria could be mitigated by baking or boiling the shells for several minutes to kill the bacteria before crushing them, but it would take a lot of extra work and might not be worth it in the end. While eggshells have been crushed and used as scouring agents in cleaning, some bird feeders are rather delicate. If your feeders are made of cheaper plastic or glass, they could be scraped up by sharper pieces of eggshell. To keep your hummingbird feeder in tip-top shape, it's probably wise to avoid this internet hack.

Alternatives for cleaning your hummingbird feeder

Rather than scrubbing your feeder with eggshells, try washing it with hot water and dish soap, making sure to rinse it very well afterward so that no residue is left. Simply fill your sink, a large bowl, or a bucket with hot water and a small amount of dish soap and place all the parts of your feeder inside. It's important to disassemble it first to ensure the nooks and crannies are also washed. Then, try scrubbing the entire feeder with an old toothbrush or a small cleaning brush. You might also use a pipe cleaner to get inside the narrow spouts where nectar comes out.

If you want something easier than meticulously scrubbing every piece, place some uncooked rice in your feeder with hot water. Shake the feeder vigorously to move the rice around and rub off any remaining grime. Diluted bleach or vinegar can also be used to disinfect your hummingbird feeder and get rid of any harmful bacteria.