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Bird Dropping Cleanup 101: Removing Guano Without Contamination

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Bird Dropping Cleanup 101: Removing Guano Without Contamination

Introduction

As an avid birder and homeowner, I’ve had my fair share of encounters with bird droppings, or guano as it’s scientifically called. While a nuisance, bird guano is more than just unsightly – it can also pose some health hazards if not cleaned up properly. In this article, I’ll walk through everything you need to know about safely removing bird guano from your home or property.

Understanding Bird Guano

Bird droppings consist of a bird’s urine and feces. The white portion is the urine, containing high amounts of uric acid. The darker portion is the feces which can contain bacteria, fungi, intestinal parasites, and viruses.

Some key facts about bird guano:

  • Dried guano becomes airborne easily. When sweeping up dried guano, the fine particles can get stirred up into the air. This allows you to inhale or ingest it, causing potential illness.

  • Fresh guano contains more pathogens. New droppings have higher levels of bacteria that are still alive and active. Older guano has less living organisms but is still hazardous when airborne.

  • Guano can carry over 60 transmittable diseases. Diseases include histoplasmosis, encephalitis, salmonella, meningitis, and more. However, the risk is dependent on the bird species.

Dangers of Bird Droppings

Here are some of the potential health dangers bird droppings pose:

  • Respiratory illnesses – Dry guano particles can be easily inhaled, causing lung inflammation or infections. Diseases like psittacosis are spread through inhaling dust from bird droppings.

  • Eye infections – Droppings getting in the eyes can cause conjunctivitis. Rubbing your eyes after touching guano allows the transfer of bacteria.

  • Gastrointestinal issues – Accidentally ingesting guano can lead to internal infections. Diseases like salmonella and campylobacteriosis stem from contaminated guano.

  • Skin infections – Open wounds exposed to guano can develop bacterial infections. The high nitrogen content can also cause skin rashes or reactions.

  • Parasitic infections – Protozoa, viruses, or larvae from droppings can spread diseases through contact. For example, pigeon droppings may contain parasitic worms.

Safety Precautions When Handling Bird Droppings

To avoid health hazards when cleaning up guano, proper safety precautions are crucial:

  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, respirator mask, goggles, coveralls, hat, and boot covers. Make sure to completely cover skin and clothes.

  • If sweeping up dry guano, lightly mist it with water first to prevent particles from scattering.

  • Work slowly to avoid stirring up dust. Gently wipe or scrape off guano rather than sweeping.

  • Make sure there is adequate ventilation in the area to allow guano particles to disperse. Consider opening windows or using fans.

  • Dispose of guano in sealed plastic bags to contain the hazard. Double bagging provides extra precaution.

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap after removing gloves. Also launder clothing separately that may have been exposed.

Cleaning Bird Droppings off Various Surfaces

The appropriate cleaning method depends on the surface type:

Wood

  • Wear waterproof gloves and goggles then gently scrape off guano using a plastic putty knife or brush.
  • Create a cleaning solution of warm water, dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. Use a scrub brush and rinse thoroughly.
  • For deep cleaning and stain removal, use a pressure washer. Keep the nozzle at least 1 foot away to avoid damaging wood.

Concrete

  • First sweep up any dried guano cautiously.
  • Use a hose on a pressure washer setting to rinse away all visible guano. Keep pressure low.
  • Make a cleaning solution with warm water, Napisan powder, bleach or quaternary ammonium. Scrub then rinse.

Car Paint

  • Allow dried droppings to soften for 30 minutes after misting car with water.
  • Use a wet microfiber cloth to gently wipe off softened guano.
  • Mix car soap with warm water and wash that area thoroughly. Rinse well.
  • For stuck-on stains, use a clay bar which helps remove guano without scratching paint.

Fabric

  • First brush or shake off any dried guano outdoors.
  • Pretreat with an enzyme-based pet stain remover or bactericidal detergent. Let sit.
  • Launder fabric with laundry detergent in the hottest water allowed for the material.

Stone, Brick, or Vinyl Siding

  • Use a hose or pressure washer on a low setting to rinse away all visible droppings.
  • Make a disinfecting solution using chlorine bleach or quaternary ammonium and scrub stains.
  • Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry. For stubborn stains, increase bleach concentration.

Roof Shingles

  • Use a leaf blower on low setting to remove loose, dried guano. Avoid blowing it around.
  • Spray shingles with hose or pressure washer. Start from the top downward.
  • Make a bleach solution using 1 part bleach to 3 parts water. Apply and let sit 5-10 minutes before rinsing.

Preventing Bird Droppings

To avoid excessive guano buildup on your property, here are some deterrent options:

  • Install bird spikes, slope barriers, or netting to block roosting spots. Avoid nest removal during baby season.

  • Use scent or taste repellents. Birds dislike strong smells of garlic, pepper, or ammonia.

  • Attach reflective tape which disturbs birds with flashing lights. Automated lasers or water spray devices also work.

  • Apply non-toxic bird gel. This makes roosting areas sticky and uncomfortable. Reapply often.

  • Use decoys of predators like owls or snakes to scare birds away. Lifelike robotic decoys that move are most effective.

Proper guano cleaning and prevention will help avoid health hazards posed by accumulations of bird droppings. Always take safety seriously and use the right techniques for your specific surface type when removing guano. With some diligence, you can safely co-exist with your feathered neighbors! Let me know if you have any other bird guano questions.

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