It can be a surprise to learn birds produce dander just like other pets, but they definitely do. Preening, bathing and natural sloughing loosens bits of feather, skin, keratin and other organic matter. As the birds flutter, the dander goes airborne and scatters throughout the home.
The easiest way to reduce dander from pet birds is to let them take baths. After a bath, the feathers trap moisture against the skin to keep it from getting dry. Most birds love a bath -- whether it's from a birdbath or from a clean, never-used spray bottle. Place a birdbath filled halfway with water on the cage bottom. Give birdie a little time to explore it; if he splashes around and comes back for more, he likes it. If not, use a spray bottle and gently mist him once a day.
Line the cage bottom with absorbent paper towels and change them daily to remove droppings, feathers and dander. Use wet paper towels to gently wipe the cage and the area around it, making an effort not to stir up the dander. Vacuum the floors and upholstery at least every other day, wearing a face mask, if necessary, to keep the dander from entering the mouth and nose. Wipe down leather furniture and plastics with a soft, damp cloth, and launder the cloth afterward.
Clean Favorite Areas
If birdie spends time outside his cage, note his favorite places and clean them daily. Consider where he likes to perch and his favorite flight routes if he flies. If he follows you around, think of the places in the house where you go regularly. Remove droppings with wet paper towels and discard. Wipe down other surfaces with a damp cloth.
Check furnace filters often; they lose their ability to catch airborne irritants like dander when they're full. Change vacuum bags and filters before they're overly full, and consider a vacuum cleaner that uses HEPA -- high efficiency particle arresting -- filters, which catch more tiny particles. Some people report good results with air filters, too.
Carpeting, upholstery and draperies all tend to catch and retain dander, dust and other particles. If dander is a serious issue, consider making changes to the room where the cage is kept or where birdie spends a lot of time. Replace carpeting with hardwood floors that you can keep dander-free with a damp mop. Choose leather or an imitation for furniture so it can be wiped with a damp cloth. Change out draperies for plastic or wood blinds that you can dust daily with a specially designed blind duster.
Barbara Bean-Mellinger is an award-winning writer in the Washington, DC area. She writes nationally for newspapers, magazines and websites on topics including careers, education, women, marketing, advertising and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Pittsburgh.