How to clean a styrofoam incubator

Many of us have finished hatching chicks for the year. Now it's time to clean those incubators and get them put away till spring. Unless of course you're one of the year round hatchers. Even if you'll be using your incubator throughout the winter, it's still a good idea to give it a good cleaning from time to time. 

Ideally we should be sterilizing our incubators between every hatch to get rid of bacteria and egg residue. How many of us actually do this? (hides under chair)  

So the question is do you know how to clean your incubator? There are many different types of incubators: Styrofoam, hard plastic and cabinet incubators are the most common. Today I want to talk about cleaning your Styrofoam incubator. If you happen to have a plastic incubator, don't worry...I gotcha covered too! Go here: How to Clean a Plastic Incubator. Ok, back to my Styrofoam incubator cleaning procedure.

cleaning an incubator

How to clean a Styrofoam incubator

I have 2 methods I used to clean my Styrofoam incubators when I had them. The first is simply hot water, soap and sunlight. First get some dishwashing liquid like Dawn. Make a mild solution of soap and hot water. Use water that is hot enough to clean, but not hot enough to burn your hands! Using a clean rag, wipe the incubator bottom gently inside and out with the soap solution. Rinse the bottom of the incubator with hot water. 

The top has the electrical components. Make sure to not get water near the electrical parts. Ring your rag out really well for the top so it's barely damp. Wipe with the wash solution, then wipe clean with clear hot water. Don't rinse the top, just wipe gently. Be very careful not to get the electrical parts wet! 
If you have to clean the heating elements, wipe very gently with a damp rag. (it goes without saying that the incubator should be unplugged and cool before doing this, right?) The top shouldn't get very dirty anyway, so you shouldn't have much cleaning to do. You can also use a little bit of rubbing alcohol on a paper towel for the heating elements if you'd like. After the incubator is clean, I let it sit out in the sun for a few hours to dry. The sun also helps to kill bacteria.

cleaning an incubator

My other cleaning method uses a product called Oxine AH. Oxine is a non volatile sanitizer and disinfectant made up of sodium chlorite. This product is OMRI listed (organic materials review institute) and has applications registered with the EPA, USDA and FDA. I wouldn't recommend it if it wasn't safe. In fact, Oxine AH is the only disinfectant USDA and EPA approved for Human, Animal and Poultry Drinking water. It's that safe.

Lets get back to the incubator: I mix about 2 ounces of Oxine into a gallon of warm water and use this solution to wipe my incubator clean. Oxine AH is a fungicidal, bactericidal, and virucidal solution. Anything contaminating your incubator will be gone after a quick wipe with this stuff! Afterward I simply let it dry before packing it away for winter. That was easy, now wasn't it?

cleaning an incubator

A word of caution about using Oxine AH: when you look the product up you will also see something called an "activator" do NOT buy this. Not only do you not need it, it makes the solution much stronger than necessary and can be harmful if used around poultry. The liquid Oxine AH is all you'll need to get and keep things clean! I buy the gallon bottle of Oxine AH. You can purchase it at vet supply places or right here on Amazon. I'm going to add an informational link here, just in case you're as fascinated by this stuff as I am. 

Your Styrofoam incubator should be sparkling clean and ready for the spring hatching season! Now just sit back and wait for winter to pass then get started hatching chicks again.


Want information on raising chickens sent right to your email weekly? Click right here to join my list and get new posts sent directly to you the day they're published. You'll also get the free download 25 Ways to save money raising chickens.

This post contains affiliate links. If you chose to purchase something through the link, I will get a small payment from Amazon. It will not affect your purchase price. Click for full disclosure.


  1. Interesting info... Thanks, as I have just purchased and used my Styrofoam incubator for the first time this year. I had wondered about the best way to clean it.

    1. Glad to help! Good luck hatching....let me know how it goes!