How to Clean Birdbaths

Updated on October 5, 2017
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Charles Meadows is passionate about providing readers with the best information about bird baths on the web.

Clean Birdbaths Are Healthier For Birds And Humans

7 Tips On How to Clean Birdbaths

Clean birdbaths are essential for the health and well-being of birds and of humans. Standing, stagnant water can encourage algae growth, attract breeding insects, and worse, promote the spread of dangerous pathogens, such as the Zika and West Nile Viruses.

If you would like to avoid these potential pitfalls, it is recommended that you clean your birdbath on regular basis. Doing so will ensure the health of your feathered visitors and of the humans who watch them bathing, drinking and preening. This article offers several helpful suggestions on how to keep your birdbath clean.

  1. Dump out old water before adding new water. Instead of simply adding new water, dump out the old water when cleaning birdbaths. This can be easily be done by tilting the bird bath to one side and pouring the water out. This will better ensure the elimination of any germs.
  2. Wipe down the birdbath basin to clear away any algae growth. This can be done with a towel, but it's better to do so with a stiff brush. A stiff brush will will not only clear away the algae, it will scrub the basin free of microbes, better preventing the spread of disease.
  3. Clean birdbaths with a non-toxic birdbath cleaner or solution of either 1 part vinegar or 1 part bleach and 9 parts water. You can allow the solution to soak in the basin if the bird bath is very dirty or has not been cleaned in a long time.If you use bleach, remember that it is toxic to both humans and animals, so be sure to rinse your birdbath well after cleaning it with high-pressure water.There are also many non-toxic birdbath cleaning solutions available that will do the job effectively. Natural oils, such as cinnamon oil or olive oil also work work well, as they kill mosquito larvae that may be present in the bird bath and are non-toxic to humans and wild life.
  4. Dry the birdbath. Allow birdbaths to dry out completely before adding new water. It best to leave the bird bath in the sun to allow it dry out completely. While the bird bath is drying, check to make sure the area around the bird bath is clean and that your garden habitat is otherwise inviting for birds.

To minimize the need for more frequent measures, you can follow these steps to maintain birdbaths on an ongoing basis:

  1. Keep water flowing by using pump. Flowing water discourages algae growth, and the breeding of insects. With flowing water, regular maintenance will be easier because there will be less algae to clean. Flowing water also has the added benefit of attracting more birds. Birdbath pumps are commonly electric powered, but you can also purchase solar powered birdbath pumps, although they are more difficult to find.
  2. Place birdbaths away from sources of falling leaves and branches. Rotting organic debris in standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects. Make sure your bird bath is far enough away from trees and other vegetation to prevent organic material from falling into the bath. If debris does fall in, make sure to remove it when replacing the water in your bird bath. It is recommended to do this on a daily basis.
  3. Rise your bird bath with a hose. Hosing your bird bath down on a regular basis will deny algae the chance to grow, will regularly clean away germs, and will prevent debris from building up in birdbaths. This step is even more important if you have used a cleaning solution that may be harmful to people or animals, such as bleach.

Follow these guidelines and you will maintain birdbaths that are healthy for humans and birds alike for years to come.

Questions & Answers

  • How much water should be added to a birdbath for the birds?

    Hi and thank you for your question!

    As a rule of thumb, water can be added to the bowl until it reaches a maximum depth of 2". If the water is any deeper, the birds will be at risk of drowning.

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