Much like areas of your home need a deep-cleaning regularly to get rid of the dirt and grime that’s left behind after day-to-day cleaning, your beloved birds’ homes should be cleared out, cleaned and disinfected frequently. Cleaning and disinfecting aren’t the same thing. Cleaning means clearing out the cage or coop, removing all dirt, litter, feathers, manure and spilled feed, and washing with soap.  Disinfecting involves applying a specific solution to kill harmful microorganisms and help prevent their growth. C&D, as it’s often called, will help keep your poultry happy and healthy if done properly and regularly!  


Before starting: 

  • Wear personal protective equipment, or use clothing and shoes that you only use when taking care of your poultry. Also, use boot covers (one-time use) or shoes that can be disinfected easily (plastic covers or rubber shoes might be best!)
  • Make sure the house or coop is empty before you start cleaning. All birds should be out and all materials should be removed. Disinfectants can be toxic to your feathered friends and organic materials, such as litter, can prevent disinfectants from working effectively! 
  • Gather everything you will need to clean.
    •  We recommend having available a large bucket, scraper, shovel, detergent, water source, and disinfectant solution.  


Cleaning Steps: 

  1. Dry clean – Brush, scrape and shovel off the manure, litter, dust, and other materials. It’s crucial to perform this step as disinfectants will not work if they are applied on top of caked-on dirt and feces.
  2. Wet clean – Thoroughly scrub all surfaces with water and detergent. Work from top to bottom and back to front.  
  3. Rinse thoroughly and repeat the previous steps as necessary. 


Man sweeping coop floor


Disinfecting steps:

  1. Dilute and apply disinfectant according to directions on the label. A good rule of thumb is to apply 1 gallon of diluted disinfectant per 150-200 square feet of surface area.
  2. Make sure to follow label instructions regarding  how much time the disinfectant should sit before it is rinsed off (if required) with water. This is also known as “contact time”. Note: Some labels will instruct you not to rinse off the disinfectant at all.
  3. Whether or not rinsing is required, leave the enclosure empty until it is completely dry.


Examples of disinfectants: 

  • Pine-sol, One Stroke, Osyl, or Tek-Trol
  • Iodine, Betadine, or Welador 
  • Roccal D Plus 
  • Virkon S, Oxy-Sept 333 Nolvasan- S
  • Odoban
  • Diluted Household chlorine bleach (depending on the bleach strength you will need 2-4 tablespoons per gallon of  water for a 600ppm disinfecting solution)

Be sure the disinfectant that you choose is registered with the EPA and is lawful for use in your area.


Pro tips:

  • You can use a paint scraper to scrape feces 
  • Use a sprayer bottle to get your detergent or disinfectant in crevices and difficult to reach areas.
  • Always double-check the contact time for a disinfectant; it must sit in the surface for an allotted amount of time for it to effectively kill bacteria, viruses or other bugs


Remember to:

  • Clean often, at least once a week, to get rid of parasites, bacteria and other grime that builds-up. Bird manure produces ammonia, and when ammonia levels become too high it can be harmful to your bird’s health. Weekly cleaning is important to keep ammonia levels down and moisture levels down too, which will keep your bird healthy and, if outdoors, make the bird house less inviting to flies and other pests looking to breed.
  • Water and feed dishes should be emptied and cleaned daily.  If using disinfectant on water or feed surfaces they must be thoroughly rinsed with plain clean water before using again.
  • Clean and disinfect the tools you used to clean your coops. 
  • Change into new protective gear or dedicated clothing in between poultry houses or coops.
  • Disinfect your boots after working with your poultry; try using a litter pan or similar container to create your own foot-bath. Fill it with water and an appropriate disinfectant and step into it before and after C&D. Clean and replace footbath liquid often to prevent buildup of germs 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, use a hand sanitizer if unable to wash hands. 

We hope these steps and tips are helpful in your quest to keep your poultry happy and healthy! If you have any questions about C&D, bird health, or bird care, make sure to send us your question through our “Ask a question” page!