Cleaning your chicken coop is a necessary part of raising healthy chickens. But what it the best way to clean it? Learn how to clean a chicken coop without using toxic chemicals in this post.
Benefits to Cleaning Your Chicken Coop
Keeping a clean chicken coop has many benefits to your flock. A clean coop has less poop and ammonia build up so it smells nicer. This also means it is better for your chickens’ respiratory system.
Cleaning your coop also gives you a chance to inspect the coop and see if any repairs need to be made. If you do find rotting wood or a leaky roof, fixing it will be easier once the coop is clean.
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When Should You Clean Out Your Chicken Coop
If you are using the deep litter method, you should clean your coop twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. I like to choose a nice, sunny day because the chickens will be locked out of the coop for several hours.
If possible, choose a day that is fairly warm too so that your coop will dry quicker. (A nice day will also make it more pleasant for YOU while you clean it.)
And while most of the time, twice a year is sufficient to clean your coop, any time you notice an ammonia smell in your coop, you should clean it.
Supplies You Need to Clean Your Chicken Coop
You really don’t need a lot of supplies to clean your chicken coop. But there are a few important things you need to make the job easier.
- broom – Preferably an old one that you keep just for cleaning the coop.
- white vinegar in a spray bottle
- garden hose with sprayer attachment that will reach the coop
- wheelbarrow – a tarp will work in a pinch
- hoe or paint scraper
How to Clean A Chicken Coop
I’ve outlined the steps below but keep reading for more details on how to clean a chicken coop.
- Remove everything from the coop that can be taken out.
- Clean out all the debris – feathers, dirt, poop, and cobwebs.
- Hose down the entire coop.
- Scrub any remaining stuck-on debris.
- Clean the coop with white vinegar and rinse out the coop again.
- Remove the excess water and allow the coop to dry.
- Scrub feeders, waterers, and nest boxes.
- Add fresh bedding and return everything to the coop.
Let’s breakdown each of these steps so you know exactly what to do to clean your chicken coop.
Remove Everything From the Coop
First, you need to remove everthing from the coop that you possibly can. Take out all the feeders, waterers, and nest boxes. This includes the chickens too!
Provide the flock with food, water and maybe even a nest box in the run while you scrub the coop. And keep your chickens out while cleaning. You don’t want to be engrossed in cleaning and accidently step on a hen.
Clean Out All the Debris
Using a shovel, remove all the accumulated feathers, poop, and dirt from the inside. Shovel the debris into a wheelbarrow. If you don’t have one, you can shovel it all onto a tarp instead.
It is a good idea to wear a mask during this part of the cleaning process. If you’ve maintained your coop properly, it will be very dusty.
Take a broom and sweep out the rafters to remove all the cobwebs. Sweep out the floor too.
Hose Down the Coop
Using a garden hose, spray down the walls, ceiling, and floors of the chicken coop. Try to get in all the nooks and crannies to wash out any remaining debris.
Scrub Stuck on Debris
Take a hoe (or a paint scraper) and scrape off any stuck-on debris from the roosts and floor of the coop. Once you scrape all the debris from the coop, remove it also.
You can add all the removed debris to your compost pile if you have one. Otherwise, dispose of it according to your city’s regulations.
Do not apply the uncomposted chicken poop to your garden. It is considered “hot” and will burn your plants. Allow the material to compost for at least 3 months before adding it to your garden.
Clean the Coop With White Vinegar
Once you have scrubbed everything in the coop, you want to clean the coop with white vinegar. Vinegar is a natural cleaning agent because it contains acetic acid. It can clean dirt and poop from your coop and is even strong enough to kill bacteria.
Don’t use apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple juice so it smells sweeter. However, that sweet smell can attract flies and other insects so stick to white vinegar for cleaning the coop.
You also don’t want to use bleach. It can react with the ammonia in chicken poop and cause a dangerous reaction. It is also not healthy for your chicken’s respiratory systems. (It’s really not good for yours either!)
You can either spray the vinegar on the walls and floor or wet an old rag and wipe down the surfaces. Once you have covered the walls and floor with white vinegar, allow it to sit for about 20 minutes. Then hose the coop out again. This will remove most of the vinegar smell.
Remove Excess Water and Allow the Coop to Dry
After hosing down the coop the second time, remove all the standing water. Usually, you can just sweep most of the water out with an old broom.
The more water you can remove, the quicker the coop will dry. This is also why I recommend cleaning your coop on a warm sunny day. It will dry much faster in warm weather.
If it is taking too long to dry, you can set up a fan at the door to speed up the process.
While everything is out of the coop, it is a good idea to inspect your coop thoroughly. If any repairs are needed, now is a good time to make those repairs. It is much easier to fix your coop while everything is clean and your chickens are out of the way.
Scrub Feeders, Waterers, and Nest Boxes
While you are waiting on the coop to dry, scrub all the feeders and waterers with a stiff brush. Remove all the bedding from the nest boxes and scrub them with vinegar too.
If your nest box curtains are soiled, you may want to wash them or replace them.
Return Everything to the Coop
Once the floor is completely dry, you can return everything to the coop. Add fresh bedding (We prefer pine shavings.) to the floor.
Don’t forget to add fresh bedding to the nest boxes. Now would be a great time to add some fresh herbs to your coop too.
Refill the feeders and waters and allow your flock back into the coop. Don’t be surprised if they start chattering happily. My flock always seems to really appreciate when I clean the coop for them.
And don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy your fresh, clean coop. It won’t remain spotless for long!
How Long Will it Take to Clean Your Coop?
While cleaning your chicken coop is probably not your favorite activity, it is a necessary part of keeping chickens.
Cleaning your coop can take anywhere from 2 hours for a small coop that holds a backyard flock to at least half a day if you have a larger coop. Remember though that part of that time will be spent allowing the coop to dry.
And after you are finished cleaning that coop, allow time for a nice long shower. You will definitely need it!