How to Give a Chicken a Bath

July 8, 2011

One of my favorite things about my chickens is their fluffy butts!  My husband always chuckles when I say this, but I truly do love to watch as their heads are down on the ground discovering tasty treasures while their tail and fluffy butts reach for the sky.  Sometimes, though, not all fluffy butts are beautiful.  Sometimes, certain hens have more difficulty, for whatever the reason,  keeping their fluffy butts fluffed.  Oyster Cracker is one such girl. Every now and then she needs a chicken bath.

She is my most beautiful henny girl.  She is the fullest, heaviest and is the best looking chicken in the bunch.  She is really a sight to see; except when you get to her back side on a bad day.  Her fluff  is sometimes replaced by poopy, clumped together feathers.   If you have ever seen a chicken poop, then you know the skill necessary to keep the fluff clean.  I am not sure why Oyster Cracker is the only girl in my flock who is prone to a dirty butt.  There are a number of potential reasons why.  Perhaps, she is not as skilled as the others.  Perhaps, she actually poops more because she eats so much.  Maybe it is because she likes to start sleeping out on the floor of the coop before jumping up to the roost.  Or, maybe she has looser stools than the others.  I am just glad that she is washable.  I typically, let her try and clean herself the best she can.  Sometimes she does a really good job.  However, other times, it seems to keep getting worse until finally, the majority of her butt fluff is coated with poop.  Here is how I give her a bath.

Items needed:

3 old bath towels
2 large bins or bowls
Dawn dish detergent (This is what they used on the wildlife after the oil spill in the Gulf.)
warm water


Create a washing station.  I like to do this in the garage.  Spread a towel out on the floor.  Fill the two bins with warm water and add a few drops of Dawn to one to create some bubbles.  One bin will be for washing and the other for rinsing.

Spread the second towel on the ground and create a hair drying stations away from the washing area.


Once you catch the chicken, while holding your hands over the wings, loosely wrap their head and upper body in a dry towel.    Remember to keep talking to your chicken through the entire bathing process.  After a few times, they will look forward to you giving them baths.


Place the chicken in the bin with soapy water.  Cup some water with your hand and wet the soiled area.  Yes, there really are not too many feathers there once wet.  You will then be able to loosen to poop off the affected feathers by rubbing each feather between your fingers.  Be careful not to pull the feathers.  Also, clean the feathers very well around the vent.  This may take some time.  Once satisfied, transfer the chicken to the rinsing bowl and try to remove as much soapy water and remaining poop from your bird.

Once rinsed, squeeze the excess water out with your hands and then towel dry your chicken.

Now, move over to the drying station.  On the lowest heat setting and speed begin to dry your chicken.  Keep the dryer constantly moving and continually fluff the feathers as you dry with your free hand.  After about 5 minutes, poof, your chicken’s beautiful fluffy butt will return.

Oyster Cracker mid-action

It is pretty simple if you ask me.  Sort of like washing a dog.  You know, we really have a nice time while I bathe her.  She does not seem to mind anymore.  She talks a lot to me but she never tries to run.  Today, she even stood still without the towel on her head as I dried her feathers.  I usually sit on the floor while doing this with her between my legs.  As I bent over her to dry the feathers on her chest, she pressed her cheek against mine.  I felt her warm little comb and wattles against me.  She was happy.  I think, she even gave me a chicken kiss.

If for some reason your chicken’s fluffy bum seems to be missing feathers and is not improving, please check out vent gleet.

This post is linked up to the Clever Chick Blog Hop.

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest


Author/Blogger/Freelancer-Sharing adventures with backyard chickens, beekeeping, gardening, crafting, cooking and more.



48 thoughts on “How to Give a Chicken a Bath”

  1. I love that post-salon photo of Oyster Cracker!

    I have several chickens who are prone to needing hind-side baths. I do it in the kitchen sink though, followed by several cleanings of the sink with bleach after the hen has left the premises! I also use gloves- the big, long, cleaning type as chicken baths are a messy business. I find that the cleaning goes much more easily if the hen soaks in some warm water for a few minutes first. If the weather is warm, I don't even bother with the hair dryer- they just air dry after their bath and pretty quickly at that.

  2. You are hysterical! If my husband seen me bathing my chickens, he would have me commited! He thought it was bad enough when I had my geese in the tub! 8>)

  3. Glad to read that there are so many other fans of chicken "bloomers" as I call my ladies' fluffy bums. I recently gave our "special" chicken, Shrimp, a bath. It was quite an experience, never thought I would blow dry a chicken! Her feather's are nice and poo-free now and I think she enjoyed the spa treatment 🙂

  4. I enjoyed reading this. It is good to know. My kids just asked me today if chickens gets baths and I told them no because they would catch a cold! LOL Now I gotta tell them I was wrong LOL

    • Too funny Kelly! Oyster Cracker is our only girl that needs one now and then. Just be sure it is a warm day and that you dry them completely. It is great fun! Especially when your chicken realizes just how good the warm water feels!

  5. Almost a year after you posted this, I need to clean Blacky's poopy feathers. She seems to be the only one of our three that has this problem, so I'm glad you pointed out that this occurs with some chickens, and not others. Now I can approach the job with a little more confidence. Thanks for the detailed instructions!

    We have 3 chickens: Blacky is a beatiful, large Black Australorp, and Laser and Margaret Hatcher are golden sex-linked (look like Rhode Island red cross-breeds). So much fun!

    • How wonderful that you have such a beautiful flock! I just love the names! Good luck with the chicken bath…I never in a million years would have ever imagined myself giving one a bath just a few years ago 🙂

  6. My two buffs have wonderful fluffy butts, but are more prone to get them 'icked up' than the other girls. I'd like to wash them, but it's cold out! Is it safe? I would happily bring them in for a spa treatment, but just don't want to take chances. Thanks for any advice.

    • Hi Elizabeth, unfortunately it is going to have to wait until the nice warm weather is upon us. I typically reserve bath time until very late spring and summer weather.

  7. some great reading here! we have a chuck that needs its botty washing – we never done this before!!
    Oh the joys of being a parent!!
    I always say they have thier 'french knickers' on!
    I must tackle the poopy chicken but in the morning it looks so horrible!

  8. To funny 2 of mine have been babtized in the sink. Before 8 weeks old they love to snuggle up after my husband calls me the crazy chicken lady

  9. Hello, I have one Bantam hen called Smokey she will be one in October, she has had a bit of a pooey bum for a little while now and wasn't sure what to do! So glad I read your blog!!! Your chickens are gorgeous 🙂 I only have one, we did have a rooster but I gave him away (as a pet) because he pecked my daughter too much. Smokey is attached to my dog now. I will give her a bath tomorrow and let you know how I go ….. Ta muchly ……

  10. Hello Tilly
    I cleaned Smokey today, she was so good for me 🙂
    I checked her bum hole (vent gleet I gather) and its clean as a whistle. Thankfully it didn't take long and she looks so much better now, I even cleaned out her little home and gave her new shredded paper and a new towel to lay her eggs on (she likes to lay on towels)

  11. Is there another "soap" that could be used? i will be adding some chickens to the fair this year and i want to make sure i am using the best "soap" for them.. Any ideas? Thank you

  12. Hello Tilly, so its been a couple of weeks since I cleaned Smokey and per bum is not as dirty, still a little but not as bad, I will check her out again this weekend and will start to clean out her pen every 2 weeks. I also bought ACV but cannot remember what for now??? But I have been putting garlic in her water too 🙂
    Thanks for the inspiration

    • Hi Briany, You are very welcome. The ACV helps to acidify the digestive tract making it less hospitable for the yeast that causes vent gleet to grow. You can add up to 1 tablespoon per gallon of water.

  13. I have a rather ill chicken and am pretty sure its suffering from Vent Gleet. I have bathed it to clean it's vent area but I read about the treatment and I don't have it at the moment. I was wondering if there are any household alternatives that you would recommend to use.

  14. For many years I used Seattle Organics (formerly Ballard Organics) liquid soap to bathe chickens…but they went out of business, alas. Fortunately I laid in a lot of it during their closeout period, and it was of very high quality, so has stayed stable in the bathroom closet after multiple years.

    It was vegetable oil based, what used to be called "Castile soap." That's an old reference to olive-oil-based soaps made in the Castile region of Spain.

    I use just enough in the bathing basin of warm water to make the water feel slippery–I'd guess no more than a tablespoon or two to a gallon of water. Too much, and it gets harder to rinse the chicken easily. Since I love giving the girls their baths, and they adore the process (they seem to go into a trance in the warm water), I don't need to soap them up hugely. If you're dealing with Poopy Butt, it's possible to make a somewhat stronger soap solution and squirt/pour that on the vent feathers. But then rinse rinse rinse, because you don't want your girl getting soap residue in her beak.

    Liquid Castile soap has a bit of a strong soap smell, but in my experience that helps the chickens stay free of parasites. I use the kind with oil of lavender.

    Barring being able to buy this beloved brand, I recommend Vermont Soap brand with either lavender or tea tree oil.

    Some people like Dr. Bronner's, but I find it harsh on my own skin so never wanted to entrust my chickens to it. That may just be me!

  15. Bathing hens in water (as opposed to their usual dirt bathing) is a MUST if there are any mites.
    Dirt bathing can keep mites down to a certain level but a warm soak will drown many more. Some add lavender and garlic to the bath. cannot hurt.
    I never thought I would have mites but they are devious blood thirsty creatures that really require action.
    They are so small that you really have to inspect your chickens behinds regularly. Mites will breed in tiny cracks in your wooden coop, even in screw holes with the screws still in their place. Nightmare! I would never use poisons on my hens, but the rooster may have to take one for the team. I fear that he is a mite magnet.

  16. Glad to find the bath advice– my Barred Rock pullet (28 weeks), Lady Sybil-Louise has developed a dirty non-fluffy butt, and she's starting laying soft-shelled eggs every other day, too. Will be bathing her in about 10 minutes, and we'll work on the soft-shelled eggs with some extra calcium in her diet. Thanks for a fun post about bathing our girls!

  17. Someone told me baby shampoo is good but I feel like it might have stripped some of the natural coating of her feathers. 🙁 Any thoughts on this?

    • I have not used the baby shampoo, but once in a while it should probably do no harm. Most soaps will strip the natural oils from the feathers. The chicken will re-coat them with oil for her uropygial gland so no worries. Just don’t bathe them too often.


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.