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How to sterilise feathers

Updated April 17, 2017

Birds can carry a variety of mites and bacteria on their feathers. Sterilise them with dry heat, disinfectants or ultraviolet light treatments. Commercially, feathers are sterilised with formaldehyde or sulphur dioxide. In the home, tiny organisms can be eliminated using all other methods.

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Dry heat

  1. Turn oven to 110 degrees.

  2. Place feathers 10 cm (4 inches) apart on a baking tray. This allows hot air to circulate freely around each feather.

  3. Bake for two and a half hours.

  4. Remove from oven to cool.


  1. Place feathers in a saucepan.

  2. Add water to cover the feathers and be 2.5 cm (1 inch) above them.

  3. Heat the water on high heat until it bubbles.

  4. Boil for 20 minutes. Some fungus spores may survive this treatment.

  5. Reshape the feathers gently with your fingers. Their fibres will compress from the boiling action.

  6. Tip

    An ultraviolet light may also be used to eliminate bacteria but it causes the feathers to become fragile and gradually break apart from structural damage.


    Diseases and parasites may be spread by moving feathers from one geographic region to another.

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Things You'll Need

  • Oven
  • Baking tray
  • Saucepan

About the Author

Patti Perry is currently attending West Virginia University and expanding her knowledge base. She has worked as a freelance visual artist for 30 years, with specialties in watercolor and scherenschnitte. Originality of creation is her motivation and she continues to pursue this avenue in her writing. Perry is currently contributing articles to eHow.

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