I hate cleaning cages. I'd much rather be spending my time training or hanging out with the birds. I don't actually mind the "ick" of cleaning poop so much as taking the time to do it. But it's a fact of life when it comes to bird ownership and something that must be done. This is why I am keen on good cleaning products that reduce the amount of time/effort I need to spend cleaning.
Recall my Must Have Cleaning Devices for the Parrot Owner article reviewing cleaning gadgets. Well in addition to good gadgets, you also need good cleaning supplies. Paper towels do just fine, but on a tight budget washable rags are a good idea. I find that dish soap and bleach work very well for a thorough cage cleaning, however, it smells awful and takes a long time to prepare. Worse yet bleach stains and requires gloves for use. I'm so worried about the fumes that I have to lock my parrots out in the stairway. There has to be a better way.
Since I got Truman's Cage from Kings Cages I was already familiar with the brand. I've been using a bunch of their products for a while now and one of them is the Royal Cage Cleaner spray. This spray makes cleaning a whole lot easier. I just spray it on and wait 5 minutes, come back before it dries, and wipe off with a wet paper towel.
Frankly, I prefer my steam cleaner because it is an entirely chemical free way to clean and sterilize the cage. The trouble is that it has a very narrow stream so it takes forever, especially when it's a wide spread mess. For hard to reach crevices like in the grooves of a perch, I'd definitely go with steam cleaner. But on cage bars, grates, and particularly seed catchers, the spray is awesome.
I tried a different cleaner before, don't remember the name, but it was a citrus based cleaner. It smelled good and is supposedly very safe but it would leave a lot of residue after cleaning. I like the Royal Cage Cleaner better because it has very little residue. Wiping with a wet paper towel once gets most of it and a little more effort and it's all gone.
For the absolute worst messes I use a combination of my steam cleaner and spray. First I spray the area to dissolve the poop. Then I wipe what I can and blast the rest out with the steam cleaner. Works like a charm. For spot cleaning, $10 for the spray is well worth it. One bottle lasts me about a year because I combine with the steam cleaner.
I have one bottle of free Royal Cage Cleaner to give away. The contest is very simple. Just leave a comment below or on the Trained Parrot Facebook page telling me about what you currently use for cleaning your parrot's cage. Contest ends midnight Tuesday November 26th and a winner will be chosen at random and announced Wednesday. The only restriction I have here is that free shipping is in the US only. International winner must pay international shipping or decline the prize and another winner will be selected. Winner to be selected from either comments section or facebook comments at random. Thanks for reading and participating.
This is a quick review of some of my favorite cleaning gadgets that I have found helpful. I have probably spent a thousand dollars on things to make cleaning easier. Some of these items turned out great while others were duds. I'd like to save you the trouble of trying everything out by directing you straight to some of the better cleaning devices you can buy.
#1 - Black & Decker Pivot Vac 18V Cordless Pivoting Hand Vac, PHV1810
A handheld vacuum cleaner is a must have device for every parrot owner from budgie to macaw. Parrots are messy creatures and being able to easily collect that mess is a part of daily parrot care. Not only do parrots throw food around but they also shed a lot of feathers and chew things down to dust.
I have gone through many handheld vacuum cleaners until I tried this model. That is when I stopped having to change brands and stuck it out with one for the longest time I can remember. This one is simply the best. Not only is the battery/motor more powerful, but the filter is less prone to clogging so the power doesn't diminish. The 18V battery gives more umph while maintaining a charge for longer. You can get a good 15-30 minutes of cleaning time with this one so the battery life doesn't end up inhibiting you like on the cheaper models. The suction port angle can be adjusted and cleaning it out is nothing more than opening the door.
The only downside I can think of to this handheld vac is that it is heavy. I don't consider the circa-$50 price tag a downside because of the quality and value. I've had mine for over 3 years now and it's running like new while the cheaper ones I had for $25 had to be replaced more frequently in the same span of time. Since your parrot will put you in the habit of using a handheld vac daily, this is a place where quality/durability are essential.
I have also used this same vac to clean my staircase and car, so it has been by far the greatest cleaning asset. The slightly higher price tag actually makes it seem cheap compared to the longevity and value that it has truly offered. So I highly recommend the 18V Black and Decker handheld vac to all parrot owners. There is no other cleaning gadget I am as thrilled to use as this vac. I rate it 5 stars on all parameters.
The Steam Shark or Shark Steam, whatever it's called, is a "steam cleaner." Don't confuse it with other steam cleaners that just rub the floor with hot water. This one actually blows out steam. The steam should help sanitize surfaces without the need for chemicals. Since chemicals and parrots are a risky combination, the idea of simply blowing hot water on a surface to disinfect it is highly appealing. My main resignation, however, is that I'm not sure that the steam exposure is long enough to do a complete job so I do resort to parrot safe chemicals every now and then. That said, I prefer to use this cleaner on a more regular basis.
I don't find this cleaner as awesome as the vac I previously mentioned, but there are a few things it can help with that make it worth having for most parrot owners. The downsides are that it is cumbersome and slow to use. It takes time for the water to heat up and steam to come out. Since there is water inside, it is pretty heavy to hold. The worst part is that the steam comes out a fairly small nozzle so you can only clean a small area at a time. Cleaning a bird cage with chemicals ends up faster than using the cleaner.
But where this steam cleaner really shines is in the hard to reach places: the cracks and crevices in parrot perches. Poop and dirt seem to find their way into perches, between cage bars, in cage corners, and all those hard to reach/clean places. The steam cleaner not only heats those places but it also blows the contaminants straight out of where they are. Essentially, the steam cleaner is like a miniature power washer. You can blast dried poop out of just about anywhere. It may take you a few minutes to clean a spot only a few inches across, but when you need to clean out the bark on a perch, there is pretty much no other way. This cleaner comes with a long cord so it is convenient when you need to clean multiple trees and cages.
I would not rely on this cleaner exclusively for cage cleaning but if you are already well stocked on other cleaning supplies, this is a good extra gadget to add to your arsenal. It is pretty much the only power cleaning tool you can use for parrot cages (except a power washer outdoors) so it's worth mentioning. If you are very poopy-phobic, which is hard to imagine for any seasoned parrot owner, with enough patience, this cleaner can be used to clean down your parrot's cage entirely without ever touching anything.
Just remember that you can burn yourself or your parrot with the hot steam coming out so always be conscious of where you are spraying it. I use this device a few times a week and recommend it as something that most parrot owners should eventually end up getting. It's not a must have device but it is quite helpful. It's a little pricey but the value is good. The construction and capability leave some to be desired but they are generally good enough for common parrot cleaning purposes. I'd rank it 3/5 on quality, usefulness, and value. But I'd give it 4/5 when it comes to cleaning tight places such as between cage bars, perches, trees, toys, etc. I give it 5/5 as being parrot safe (as long as your parrot is away to avoid getting burned).
#3 - BISSELL Spotbot Pet Handsfree Spot and Stain Cleaner with Deep Reach Technology, 33N8
The spotbot is really cool because it's the only fully automatic cleaning gadget I'm aware of. This one is particularly handy for people with a lot of carpet/rugs. No matter how much you try to potty train your parrot, accidents will happen from time to time. With some, more than others. Kili is pretty good so this device wasn't paying off with her. But, with Truman on the other hand it's been worth every penny. When he was younger and couldn't hold it in long enough, when i would let him out in the morning he would sometimes spill his load while flying across the room. It wasn't just a matter of having a mess on the carpet in one spot. He'd leave a whole trail that was a nightmare to clean. Using my spotbot, I was able to run it a couple times and be done with it.
The way the spotbot works is it has a round opening on the bottom, approximately 9 inches across, that runs a complete wash/scrub/vac cycle for you. All you have to do is add water/detergent to the canister, place it over the mess, and activate it. The machine will run the complete cleaning cycle and then beep to alert you when it is done. Since you don't want it to beep any more than necessary (or else your parrot will be doing that all the times there isn't even a mess to clean), you have to run over right away to turn it off.
Almost every time I've had to run it, the spotbot took care of the mess on the first run. Rarely have I had to run it a second time and I really can't think of a time when it couldn't cope with the mess. It sure beats getting on your knees and scrubbing bird poop out of the carpet for half an hour. The only thing I suggest about using the spotbot is to remove as much of the mess with a papertowel beforehand as possible and then let the machine do the hard work. The device also comes with a hose for handheld cleaning. I've never had to use that for a bird mess but I admit it was handy for cleaning the floor mats from my car. Otherwise, I've found no other uses for the machine.
The spotbot is the most expensive of my parrot-specific cleaning gadgets so I least recommend it for all owners. It's the gadget you'll end up paying the most for and using the least. If you don't mind the expense or have a lot of carpet messes, I do suggest it. The quality of the machine is good but the frequency of these pooping on the carpet accidents are just so rare that the cost effectiveness is the only concern. Perhaps I've used mine 50 times. That still comes out to $3 a cleaning. So keep in mind that you'll be paying a lot for little use. But the amount of tiring effort that it saves is really worthwhile. I'll rate the quality/capability of the gadget 5/5 but 2/5 on price and 2/5 for how essential it is for parrot owners. Not a bad device by any means, just limited in use and expensive.
When it comes to regular vacuum cleaners, etc, I don't feel it worth reviewing. That comes down to your personal cleaning preferences and is impacted less by owning parrots. Whatever vacuum cleaner, mop, or other device you like to clean with shouldn't be affected too much by having a bird. The 3 devices I mentioned above I would not have if it weren't for parrots so that's why I thought they are especially worth mentioning. Over the years I've tried many and have thrown out most of them. The 3 I listed here have lasted for years and served me well. I have no motivation to push those products except that I hope they can make your life taking care of parrots easier like they have mine.
Feel free to leave comments if you've tried these devices or have other cleaning gadgets you'd like to recommend.