You might be reading this with a call for 15 centimetres of snow in the forecast but winter won’t last forever. Spring is on the horizon. If you forgot to clean out the nest boxes in your backyard at the end of autumn, early spring is another great time to get this task done.

Before you get started, it’s important that you check to make sure the box isn’t currently occupied. Depending on where you live in Canada, it’s doubtful that any birds are starting to nest this early but critters like mice, squirrels or birds might be using it to roost. If there are no signs of occupation, you can go ahead and get cleaning!

What You’ll Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • A scrub brush
  • Mild detergent
  • Bleach
  • Hot water


  • If you can take the box down, it’ll be easier to clean.
  • Pop on your rubber gloves and start removing old nesting material and throwing the material in the compost.
  • Start with some good ol’ fashioned elbow work and scrub the inside with your scrub brush, detergent and water.
  • It might be helpful to use a hose to get rid of stubborn debris.
  • If you notice fecal matter, you’ll want to scrub the box clean with a cleaning mix using one part bleach to 10 parts water.
  • Don’t forget to use lots of hot water to thoroughly rinse away any detergent or bleach residue afterwards!
  • Go ahead and leave the box out in the sun to let it dry out. Once it’s dry, you’re ready to put the box back out and eagerly await the start of spring and the sight of baby birds!