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Pigeon and other bird droppings can harbour histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis and psittacosis. Sweeping up dry guano releases dust, increasing your chances of inhaling particles and putting your health at risk from these diseases. To clean up droppings safely, dampen soiled areas with water, allow it to soak through the droppings and scrape it loose wearing appropriate clothing, protective goggles and a mask. Call in an expert if you have a particularly unmanageable or recurring pigeon problem affecting a large area.
Wear appropriate, close-fitting clothing or a boiler suit. You don’t have to spend a fortune on specialist clothing; pick up a disposable all-in-one jumpsuit from a pound shop and you won’t feel too bad throwing it away when you’re done.
Cover your nose and mouth with a paper dust mask, leaving your eye area free for some snug-fitting safety goggles. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and wellies or work boots.
Fill a spray bottle with warm water and moisten the bird droppings using a fine mist. Alternatively, wet the guano gently using a garden hose taking care not to spray so hard that the dry droppings dislodge and create dust.
Leave the water to soak into the droppings for about ten minutes.
Ensure that the droppings are moistened thoroughly before you start cleaning. If the area looks as though it is starting to dry out, spray it again with the water bottle and leave for a couple of minutes.
Take a wallpaper scraper or similar tool and dislodge the guano from the outside of the soiled area, working toward the centre, scooping it up as you loosen it.
Place the droppings in a bin bag and sweep up remaining faeces with a dust pan and brush.
Disinfect the cleaned area with a commercial product that is safe for garden use. Alternatively, mix one part bleach to nine parts water and scrub the affected area.
Consider preventative measures such as anti-perching barriers or bird scarers to stop pigeons roosting in your garden and creating a mess.
Hire a professional specialist cleaner if the problem persists or becomes too much to handle.
- Check with your local council about the safe disposal of bird droppings and its policy on whether you are permitted to dispose of guano in your wheelie bin for general refuse collection.
- Always wear a mask and safety goggles when cleaning up bird droppings. Even if you have moistened the guano to lessen the risk of dust transfer, some particles may still remain.
- Dan Kitwood/Getty Images News/Getty Images