How To Clean the Chicken Coop

February 28, 2012

After keeping chickens for a while, you will soon find yourself developing habits that work for you and your flock.  Over time, I have learned to implement a few things.  We view our chickens as our family pets, so we do make extra efforts to spoil them more so than individuals keeping chickens as livestock.  All of these tips are not necessary, but in my opinion, help keep their eggs clean and the girls healthy and happy in their daily lives.  I typically clean the small coop (for 6 chickens) every 1-2 weeks, depending on the need and the weather.  The entire process takes me about 15 minutes start to finish. Here is how I clean the coop for Tilly and the girls.

I like to store all that I need in a 5 gallon bucket.  This keeps everything I need in one place.

First,  I remove the chickens from the coop and lock them out in the run.  I wear rubberized gardening gloves when I clean the coop.  Glove that you use in the kitchen work well too. You know those big yellow rubber ones! It can be a messy job.  First, I remove the roosts and place them in the sunshine.  Next with a dust pan for a scooper, I remove all the soiled pine shavings, put them in my 5 gallon bucket and tote them over to the compost pile. Sometimes if they are not too soiled, I toss them into the run for the girls to enjoy, sort and begin composting for me.  One of the best things I did when I ordered my coop was to pay extra for the industrial grade linoleum flooring. In fact, I even did this in my bigger coop too.  I love it.

I typically wipe down the linoleum with a water and white vinegar mixture.  There is always some caked on poop that needs a bit of scrubbing.

There are also commercial coop cleaners available on the market.  I must say that it did a fantastic job!  It is made from all natural ingredients and smells delightful.  Dried on bits, that I typically would have to work at, came off with ease.  I am loving the Happy Hen Coop Cleaner.  I even tried it on the plexiglass windows.  They turned out sparkling clean and streak free.

After the coop is wiped down, I give everything a spray with Manna Pro’s Poultry Protector.  I spray the walls, roosts, nesting boxes, ceiling and flooring and then let them dry completely. I have used this product for over a year now and I believe that this is one of the best defenses you can take to prevent mites and lice.
Once the coop is sufficiently dry, using the Pest Pistol filled with food grade diatomaceous earth, I blast all the nooks and crannies, the flooring and the roosts.  Be careful not to inhale the “dust”.  It can cause an inflammatory condition of the lungs over time.  You can read about the benefits of using food grade diatomaceous earth here.

Next, I turn to the nesting boxes and spoil my girls with one of my favorite products, The Nesting Box Blend.  My flock goes crazy for this.  I sprinkle about a tablespoon in each nesting box.  I think it makes them lay better and keeps pests away too.  I like to think of it as egg laying aromatherapy.

Next, I replace the removable piece of wood I made to keep the girls from scratching the pine shavings out of the nesting boxes. I also place a brick in front of the coop door, as the girls take pleasure in scratching out the pine shaving from the coop.  This has helped. Plus, I think it acts as a nail file.

Finally, utilizing the 5 gallon bucket, clean pine shavings are added back into the coop.  All the while, the girls stand outside waiting with anticipation.  They cannot wait to return inside.  Sometimes, they even knock on the coop door.  I love that, because I know that getting back into the clean coop makes them happy.

As soon as they can, the broody girls return to their favorite nesting boxes, while my handy work is inspected by Sunshine and the rest of the gang.

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest


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



62 thoughts on “How To Clean the Chicken Coop”

  1. Oh, thanks for sharing all your favorite cleaning products! I'll need to check them out…after I do some "spot cleaning" in the coop and run. Every few days I like to get the "worse" out. (We're using deep litter right now for the winter months though.)

    • Thank you so much because im getting chickens at wilco and I need to know how to clean a chicken coop cause i want my chickens and my rooster to be happy heathy and safe

  2. Thanks for a wonderful lesson. I appreciate your mentioning the products you use and what you like about them. And I too would like to know about the deep litter method that OurSideoftheMountain mentioned. Also, when I was looking at chickies the other day, the chick-man at the feed & seed store said he recommends using the pellets (recycled newspapers) for babies so they won't have any dust to breath as they would with straw or shavings. He said they can be gotten at pet supply stores.

  3. I'm not sure *I'm* the best one to explain it! LOL I don't exactly follow the "method" to a T because I don't like the idea of leaving the, um, matter in the coop for months. 😉 Call me weird, but I like the girls to smell like fresh hay/straw/pine shavings and not decomposing matter. 😉 It's not a terrible smell (deep litter), but not FRESH.

    We just finished cleaning out the ENTIRE coop and run. No deep litter now…just lots and lots of fresh bedding and DE. (The last time we did a COMPLETE clean was November.) The girls were chattering up a storm while we cleaned! LOL

    Oh, I popped back in to ask how you clean the RUN? Your photos look like yours is low. Our run is 16 feet long x 4 feet wide x about 3-4 feet high. I like to freshen in there too, but with only one door it's hard to reach everything. (I guess I need to put in a 2nd door.) Besides possibly DE, what keeps your run dry, clean?

    • Thanks for the tips and sharing your insights. Always so appreciated!

      I try to keep the run dry by keeping plastic over it when it is snowing or raining, mostly to optimize the space for the girls. I usually toss the soiled pine shavings into the run for the girls to compost. They help absorb any moisture and keep them entertained for hours. Each season, when the girls are free ranging, I pull apart the run and rake out the accumulation of compost and poop, setting it aside near the compost pile to cure. It is due for a raking soon!
      Every so often I sprinkle the run with food grade diatomaceous earth. This helps to cut down on parasites. Some people add lime and wood ash but I have personal experiences with this. I hope this helps! ~Melissa

    • It sounds like you do what I do…only I don't put soiled hay/pine into the run, but add fresh. (We go through a lot of bedding! LOL) I also sprinkle some DE into the run once a week and the coop when I "freshen" or clean it. (It does help!) And it's currently covered with tarps. (New England winters! LOL)

      We plan on adding our outside firepit ash to the dirt bath box when we have fires this season.

      Where did you get your little coop and run? Did you build it? It looks much more sturdy than mine…and I'm thinking we're going to need to replace it before next winter (after only 1 year).

  4. Thanks for showing these pictures… and for the whole conversation that has transpired.I'm interested in deep litter method. Could there be a link we could follow.

    my chickens are due for a good raking in the run, and I clean out the coop also about every two…
    I use shavings. I'm looking for some linoleum (may have to buy an remnant) I've search freecycle for linoleum scraps nothing yet. Right now there is just the wood floor, but I've used a piece of black tail-gate (truck bed liner) and it fits nicely. I take it out and dump the shavings and droppings hose it off and slide it back inside. I'd much rather have the linoleum underneath it though. I also noticed that while we have a water proof roof over the top, we do have a few leaks around the doors. Those will need to be addressed this year. For the integrity of the structure and to maintain it in good shape!

    I love these helpful tips and your helpful readers too!


  5. I don't know a thing about chickens but I sure do enjoy reading your blog and love reading other's comments as well. We had a "pet" wild pheasant about a year ago so I can understand how you love your chickens! Thanks for a great blog!

    Diane in Wisconsin

    • Diane in Wisconsin, I am so glad to have you along on our adventures. How sweet! I used to have a wild duck that came every year to visit me and swim in the pool. I used to call her Momma 🙂

  6. I am researching all aspects of raising chickens, buying supplies, and making a coop. May I copy any or all of your articles. I am a 63 year old grandma, and I am not interested or ever will I ever be going into business for my self. I just want to have my own chickens, so I can have organic eggs for my health. I suffer from severe joint pain, and When I have a hobby, that gives me joy like gardening it helps with exercize, and I love animals. If this is ok, how do I eliminate every thing but your article. Printer ink is so expensive. Thanks so much, Jodine

    • Hi Jodine! You are welcome to use the information for your own personal use. You could try subscribing via email, articles would be mailed to you or try subscribing to the RSS feed. Feel better soon and good luck with the chickens.

  7. Hi, I have the same coop. Just got it this past spring. First time raising chickens. I live on the coast in New England and I wondering how the chickens will handle the winter in this coop. They have been free ranging this summer, going in to roost at night. Do you let yours free range when there is snow on the ground, will they get frost bite? I was thinking of covering the run with a tarp during storms this winter. Maybe putting shavings or hay in the run for the winter as well and keeping them in the run most the winter. Any advice?

    • Hi there. All great questions! I do not let them free range in the Winter when there is a bunch of snow on the ground (They are snow blind.) I cover the run with a plastic tarp when I know we are in store for bad weather. I roll it up when the weather is nicer. It seems to work very well. I use more shavings and straw inside in the Winter and I also keep their food and water inside. (I mounted a piglet waterer to the inside wall, doesn't freeze too badly but I refill it every morning.) My chickens have done well without any frostbite. When it is really cold, they just stay inside. Here is a post that might help to give you an idea: Feel free to email me too if you have any more questions.

  8. Thank you so much for your help. I kind of feel like a new, nervous mother all over again! Do you use a heat lamp or light in the coop during the winter?

  9. I am so happy I found your blog! I appreciate your writing style as it doesn't freak me out too much; I've lost two babies already and I'm a bit nuts about it all at the moment. I have only had my chickens for 3 weeks now, all 10-11 week old pullets. They've been housed in a loaner brooder while my coop is built and the cleaner and care of it had been torturous. I will receive my lovely coop(hopefully) today. I have been looking and looking for the best way to set things up and I really appreciate how you manage your cleaning and set-up. I really need simplicity! Thank you for taking the time to share!

    • Congratulations on your babies! How exciting for you and your family. I am so happy you enjoyed the post. Feel free too to check out the chicken resources page (link is on the right of the page). Lots of helpful info there 🙂

  10. Can you post DIY ideas for the cleaners and such you mnetioned? I can't afford to buy those and wonder if anyone has made their own. Getting chicks in a couple months or so. Good info on chcickens. I'm reading up so I know as much as I cna by reading. Deb

    • One of the best cleaners that will not break the bank is a combination of water and about 10% vinegar. You can also replace the vinegar with bleach for really dirty jobs. Truly, those two cleaners are fantastic and do a great job. Good Luck on the chickens Deb!

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  13. The deep litter method is quite simple really. In the winter, it obviously gets colder, so you use the deep litter method. Just keep adding shavings every time you feel the need. Don't take the shavings out during the winter months. The shavings (or any other bedding you use) compost with the manure, creating heat. It doesn't smell as bad as you think, and it made my coop at least 15 degrees warmer, probably more. Today I have to clean it out, even with my 29 chickens, with 4 more in the incubator. The only disadvantage to this method is that when, you clean it out, its a whole new experience. Hope this answers everyone's questions!

  14. I love the idea of lenolium on the floor!
    I also love that the roosting bars are just bearly off the ground…
    Thanks for sharing this post as it gives me great ideas!
    I gotta go clean now!

  15. I LOVE yu post, too! I am a first time chicken keeper. We have 9 four week old chicks. Your blog has been so helpful that I am amazed at how easy and wonderful having chickens is!

  16. Wow, if I only could be one of your chickens, lucky chicks. I am so thankful for all your tips. I went and purchase the supplies to make the dropping board. And I am going to go get some sand next. I too need to get the coop ready for winter. Thank you so much.

  17. What a blessing to find your informative post! Our girls moved in two weeks ago and it was time to clean the coop….I found a 5 gallon bucket and set to work after studying your instructions! Now they're all clean and tidy and it wasn't bad at all…thank you for all the wonderful tips! I'm new at blogging but joined your blog hop…fun!

    • Yay! I am so happy that you liked the post. I am so excited for you and your new girls. I agree, coop cleaning is not so bad especially after the girls reward you with wonderful eggs!

  18. Thank you Tilly for this very relevant post. We just had our new chickens last week and coop is due for cleaning anytime now. Will follow your recommendations especially that nesting box blend you recommended. I believe the chickens deserve some pampering every now and then.:-) I'd like to share this info I got about using a herbal pest control to ward off flies and keep coop smelling clean as well. The DIY recipe for this can be found in this link

  19. I personally don't care for straw. Pests like mites and lice cans live in the "tubes" of the straw. My chickens also like to eat straw and it gets caught in their crops. I prefer pine shavings the best.

  20. Good learning way for cleaning chicken coop and they way I learned from here that's quite outstanding and also very easy to work on. So really appreciate to this one and hope that I will learn lot of things about this issue in near future. Thanks for giving this sort of tips.

  21. I am so grateful I found your blog, have learned so much altho our chief chicken tender is not as receptive to your ideas. He thinks he knows it all, doesn't clean out coop but once a month then I need to remind him. I like to help but have to be very careful of breathing in fumes from coop/poop and straw dust.
    Is using pine shavings as inexpensive as straw? We're not in financial position to have to buy expensive bedding for them. We haven't had really cold temps this winter, maybe about high 30's and low 40's for little while then mostly 50's so have let our girls free range in back yard.
    I was concerned about them having straw getting stuck in their crops. We had to cover rest of hay bale so they weren't eating it all the time. I will start using some water/vinegar mix to clean their coop as I will be doing the chicken tending for few weeks after hubs has teeth extracted then partial knee replacement. I tend to be more cleaning occupied than he is so they will most likely have much cleaner coop at least while I am doing deed.
    Does it hurt for a dog to be around the chickens? He is quite protective of them, will stay out in yard with them all day to watch over them. He's a black lab/border collie, about 75 lbs.Very gentle and loving. He has his favorite chicken, the polish that the bantams pick on. Will he cause them stress? I've seen him go over to bantams when they're picking on polish chicken to nudge them away from her. I was so touched when I saw that, how loving and protective of her he is. She has little black/white feathers on her head and body, brave personality, she follows him in the yard. She'll go behind him to peck his legs. He just turns around and licks her.
    Bless your heart for being so patient, answering our questions. I tend to listen to your advice more due to bad experiences with hubs lack of attendance on matters. Happy weekend

    • Hi there! Thank you for your comment and your story. Pine shavings are relatively inexpensive and I think are much better at absorbing moisture than the straw and like you say will not get caught up in their crops. If you have a dog that gets along with chickens, that is wonderful! Consider yourself lucky!

  22. Love your coop setup so much! do you keep their food and water in the coop? We have been having issue with rain getting into the chickens food….we have a fully covered roof in their run but the walls are only hardwire. Any suggestions?

  23. You mentioned you used Happy Hen Treats Coop Cleaner, but when I googled
    it I discovered it’s been discontinued so would like to know what you
    use now?


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About me

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