8 Steps: How To Clean Your Bird Bath Properly

Bird swimming on an oval concrete birdbath.

If you have a birdbath sitting in your backyard then you must know that cleaning your birdbath is necessary for your birds. Having your birds drink dirty water constantly will only lead to infections.

Geoffrey LeBaron, Director of Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count Program, says, “If you don’t take good care of your birdbath, either it will dry out completely, which is of no use for your birds, or it’ll get fetid, that’s when mosquitoes might become a problem.”

When lots of birds are visiting your backyard to drink and cool off, the more the birdbath attracts bacteria. So, keeping your birds fresh, clean, and free of diseases is quite important. So, what are the best ways to clean birdbaths?

Tips On How To Clean Your Bird Bath

8 Steps On How To Clean Your Bird Bath The Right Way

What You’ll Need:

  • Water
  • Scrub Brush
  • Rubber Gloves
  • White Vinegar
  • Garden Hose

1) Dump out stagnant water

Getting rid of stagnant water and removing any poop, feathers, and other debris like leaves and sticks is the first step to getting your birdbath clean.

2) Give your birdbath a good scrub

Giving your birdbath a good scrub using a disinfectant solution will ensure it is free from bacteria and diseases.

You can mix one part of distilled white vinegar to nine parts of water as your disinfectant solution. This mixture is eco-friendly and an organic way to disinfect your birdbath.

Wearing your gloves, thoroughly scrub the basin, the brim, and areas where most birds land to cool off, perch, drink or bathe.

3) How to soak for an extremely dirty birdbath

For extremely dirty birdbaths, you can soak the mixture for about 10 minutes to eliminate bacteria and pathogens. However, cover the birdbath while soaking to prevent birds from coming to drink the mixture.

Cleaning your birdbath once a week allows birds to drink fresh and clean water. But depending on how many birds are using the bath, you might have to clean it when necessary.

4) Rinse thoroughly

Use a garden hose with adequate running water to rinse the birdbath thoroughly. Do it until you find that the birdbath is clean and there is no more persistent foaming.

If you find cleaning your birdbath a tiring task, you can hose the bath down to rinse out the bird’s poop and some debris. You can also schedule regular cleanings every few weeks.

5) Dry completely 

Allow the birdbath to dry completely before filling the fresh water after cleaning. While drying, you can take this opportunity to refill feeders or check some other bird-related chores.

But remember to position feeders away from the bath to prevent spilled seeds from landing into the bath basin.

6) Fill your birdbath with freshwater

Check how much water you lost because of evaporation, particularly in summer. You can refill the birdbath with fresh water every day or every other day.

In the fall, lots of migrating birds are attracted to birdbaths and keeping an eye on your bath is essential to ensure you’ve provided the best environment for them to come and grace your backyard with their presence.

7) Add approved enzymes to prevent the growth of algae

Adding enzymes approved for wildlife consumption is one of the most effective ways to minimize the growth of algae and will keep the birdbath clean the entire week.

And take note to position the birdbath away from falling leaves and small branches. It may hinder the bird’s cooling activity and contribute to water contamination when not removed immediately.

8) Accessorize your birdbath

Standing water attracts mosquitoes, which is a threat to your birds, pets, and our health. But adding a water wiggler into the birdbath keeps the water moving, preventing mosquitoes from laying their eggs as they usually do in still waters.

How To Clean Your Bird Bath Scrub-Free

 A bird perches on the oval concrete birdbath.
Image by: thespruce.com

Using bleach to clean and disinfect your birdbath is another way that you can use to keep it clean and free from bacteria.

While this technique is suitable for concrete birdbaths, take precautions when using bleach if your baths are delicate and made of materials unfitting for chlorine.

What You’ll Need:

  • Water
  • Garden hose with a pressure setting
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Black plastic trash bag

1) Dump dirty and contaminated water

Water in a birdbath often gets filled with feces, algae, dirt, and some falling leaves, and dumping the old water away is the first step you need to do when cleaning the birdbath.

If the water basin does not detach, you can tilt the pedestal to drain the old water away, but be careful to avoid damage.

2) Rinse the basin

Rinse the birdbath to remove any debris, feces, or loose dirt with the help of the pressure setting on your hose nozzle. Removal of such surfaces is the first part of the cleaning process to help keep the baths cleaned more thoroughly.

If your bath has a textured basin, position yourself at different angles to clean every space. Also, avoid the highest pressure setting on your hose if your birdbath has delicate materials like a mosaic or chip surface finish.

You can either use a lower pressure setting or wipe the surface lightly with a sponge.

3) Refill the basin with water

Refill the basin with water until nearly full. Make sure the bath basin is level to ensure even surface cleaning. If it’s detachable, it is best to do it on the ground. However, doing it on the pedestal is also simple and not complicated.

4) Add bleach

Add a generous amount of bleach into the basin water, but be careful not to spill onto nearby plants or any grass. Take note to avoid splashes into your clothes when adding the bleach.

Pour the bleach slowly into the water basin, and then use some sort of stirring stick to mix the bleach with the water.

The typical chlorine bleach is most effective with this technique, but if you prefer green-based products, you can adjust the amount of bleach for your preferences. Avoid using window cleaners and powder cleansers as they aren’t effective.

5) Allow soaking for a few minutes

Leave the bath to soak for about 10 to 15 minutes. Cover with a plastic bag to prevent birds from coming to drink the chemically treated water.

Choose a black plastic bag to help the cleaning treatment get done faster. Black plastic bags absorb solar radiation and help generate heat into the water, increasing the potency of bleach to clean the basin.

6) Remove the black plastic cover 

After 15 minutes, remove the plastic cover. At this time around, your basin should be free from algae and other grime. But if you still see some, put the bag back and try to soak for a little longer.

7) Rinse the basin thoroughly

Rinse the basin thoroughly after dumping the water with bleach and use your garden hose with a pressure setting to rinse down and dilute the remaining traces of bleach.

Keep the rinsing cycle up to two minutes and position yourself in different angles to ensure every nook and cranny is well-rinsed. This way, you’ll make the water for your avian visitors fresh and safe for drinking and bathing.

8) Sundry the newly cleaned bath

Allow the newly cleaned birdbath to dry out in the sun. Doing so will keep the bath fresh for a longer time. It will discourage algae growth and help sterilize persistent contaminants.

If you have no time to dry the birdbath, just rinse it thoroughly, and it will do just fine.

9) Refill the bath with fresh and clean water

Refill the newly cleaned birdbath basin for the birds to enjoy. Fill with water with a depth no deeper than 1-2 inches for birds to drink and cool off without the danger of drowning.

If your basin is deep, try adding large flat stones to provide a shallow area for smaller birds to use. You can also consider attaching a dipper mister or a wiggler to prevent egg-laying mosquitoes and this will also attract more birds.

Final Thoughts On How To Clean Your Bird Bath Properly

Bird watching and listening to their chirps are actually activities that relieve stress and promote human well-being.

Filling bird feeders and working outdoors not only helps improve any bird habitat, but it also helps you be calm and relaxed while enjoying the beauty and healing effect of nature.

Providing food, water, and a birdbath for birds to cool off in the summer are some of the most effective ways that people use to connect with nature. Such connections associate various benefits, especially with people in urban areas.

And keeping your birdbath clean is not only beneficial to birds. A bird study has shown that birds can eat about 400-500 million tons of insects each year and that we as humans actually need birds more than they need us.

Providing an ideal environment for your backyard birds promotes beneficial wildlife relationships. Keep encouraging birds to come into your backyard as this is quite beneficial. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask below.


About Benita Abucejo

Hi there! My name is Benita Abucejo. What can I say? I truly love spending my days in the outdoors, specifically in the garden. Gardening has always been a strong passion of mine since I was a little girl. It has brought me so much joy and happiness that it is definitely safe to say that I will be a gardener for life. For a period of time, I was able to work with people who are into home gardening and I found it to be quite beneficial to my physical health, as well as my mental well-being. Here at Seasonal Preferences, I am going to share with you my experience and ideas so that you can fulfill yourself with the same satisfaction and happiness. Of course, if you have ideas, I would love to hear those as well! Being creative in the garden can really be quite fascinating so let's share our experiences and be the best gardeners we can be. With that being said, thank you for dropping by and please leave me a comment on one of my posts if you would like to get in touch!

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