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By Dana Wilson

Poop-off! cleaner
Poop-off! Bird Poop Remover works on a variety of surfaces.

  • Canopy Quick Clean, 8 oz., $3.50
  • Pet Focus Avian Formula, Ready-to-Use One-Step Disinfectant, quart, $8.65
  • Poop Off! Bird Poop Remover, 16 oz., $8.95

    NO PARROT should have to live in an Animal House, even if it does throw food like John Belushi. And certainly no bird should be exposed to deadly bacteria, viruses or fungi, all possible dangers posed by a dirty cage.

    One option is steam cleaning. A monthly steam cleaning cuts your morning cage cleaning routine down to a few minutes. Costco sells steam cleaners for about $100, but they're unwieldy and not very powerful. If you're lucky, there's a professional steam cleaning service near you that will come to your house to clean cages with a high-powered machine. (My favorite: Clean As a Whistle! in Quincy, Mass.) But professional services can be expensive - I pay $120 for three cages.

    A good alternative to keeping a bird's cage sparkling is one of the powerful, fast-acting cage cleaners on the market. Unlike common household cleaners, which can be hazardous to birds, they're safe. ParrotChronicles.com tested three of the most popular: Poop Off! Bird Poop Remover, Canopy Quick Clean, and Pet Focus Avian Formula, Ready-to-Use One-Step Disinfectant.

    Canopy Quick Clean
    Canopy Quick Clean smells pleasantly fruity.

    Our test lab was the cage, floors, rugs, walls and furniture of a messy Timneh African grey named Lady Jane Grey. This bird relishes unlocking crock holders so she can dump her food and water. She hurls her dinner on the walls and floor and eats inside, on top, under, and around her cage, leaving a trail of sticky debris on toys, perches, bars, dishes, floors, rugs, furniture and walls. She licks everything she can get her beak on. And poops wherever she pleases.

    Lady Jane's diet is sticky, staining, and hard-to-remove stuff: various organic pastas; tomato sauce with basil; tofu; cooked lima, black, lentil, edamame and other beans; cooked green peas; sweet potato; squash; fresh corn, carrots, star fruit, apples, oranges, bananas and peppers; dry and cooked oatmeal; almonds; meat, chicken, turkey; Roudybush, oat, wheat, and organic cereals. You get the picture.

    I tested each cleaner for one month, starting each testing period with a professionally steam cleaned cage. The cleaning routine: Every day I removed Lady Jane from her cage, tossed the used tray paper and sprayed the bars, perches, toys and trays with cleaner. If necessary I also sprayed the floor and walls. I let the cleaner do its thing while I washed the food, water and other dishes and vacuumed or brushed seeds out of the trays and tray slides. Then I wiped the sprayed surfaces with a scrubby sponge and scraped the sprayed perches and bars with a plastic putty knife. Then I refilled the tray paper, returned the food and water bowls and put Lady Jane back in the cage. If short on time I just sprayed and sponged off.

    Poop-Off! kept the cage looking and smelling sparkling clean for a month. So did Canopy, and after that, so did Pet Focus. All these cleaners do what they promise: quickly dissolve and remove bird messes in minutes, sometimes seconds, with minimal effort, including droppings (wet or dried), food, fruit, nectar, vegetables, meat, greens, and regurgitated food from cages, perches, swings, and toys. All deodorize. All are packaged in easy-to-use spray bottles.

    The difference is they each have at least one bonus benefit. For example, Poop-off! is excellent for removing wet or dried droppings from carpets, upholstery, car seats and fabrics, walls and floors, too. The manufacturer advises first testing fabrics for colorfastness. I found Poop-off! made quick work of removing poop from a wool carpet and wood floor, after my Amazon sat on the back of my chair all day.

    Pet Focus Avian Formula
    Pet Focus Avian Formula is an economical all-in-one cleaner.

    The maker of Canopy Quick Clean claims it is safe on most color-fast fabrics and carpets, but may strip wood furniture or floors. Its added benefit is the wonderful orange fragrance it leaves on everything you clean. Canopy also makes Canopy Cage Shield ($3.50) for protecting surfaces and making subsequent cleaning easier. Pam non-stick cooking spray works, too, but it can be gooey. I came to enjoy using Canopy to make the house smell fresh and clean. It's safe for birds - unlike most plug-in, spray and candle deodorizers.

    Pet Focus is a one-stop disinfectant, deodorizer and cleaner, effective against a host of pathogens, fungi, mildew, and viruses. It is sold in concentrate as well as pre-mixed, handy if you have a number of cages, aviary or habitat to clean. The manufacturer claims the odorless cleaner can be used on washable hard, nonporous surfaces, floors, walls, countertops, sinks, glazed tiles, cages, stainless steel, glazed porcelain and plastics like polystyrene and polypropylene.

    After the test periods, I used all of the cleaners interchangeably, and still do, depending on the job. Sometimes I clean either with Poop-off! or Canopy, then spray on Pet Focus afterward to disinfect. If in a hurry, I use the all-in-one Pet Focus. It's also the most economical. For the best odor, it's Canopy. Poop-off! smells the strongest but cleans the widest array of surfaces. If I have time, I use all three.

    The only down side of these cleaners? Lady Jane ferociously attacks spray bottles, so I have to keep them under wraps when she's around.

    With cleaners like these available, there can be no more squawking about not having enough time to clean your parrot's cage.

    Dana Wilson
    Dana Wilson is a freelance writer and film producer who worships the ground her birds walk on and the air they fly in.

    To have your parrot-related toy, food, accessory or book considered for review, send a request to reviews@parrotchronicles.com.


    ParrotChronicles.com. Published 2004. All rights reserved


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