How to Clean a Birdbath (and Why You Should)

Updated on April 29, 2019
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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
Clean Birdbaths Are Healthier for Birds and Humans

Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining 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.

How to Clean Your Birdbath

  1. Dump out old water before adding new water. Instead of simply adding new water, dump out the old water. 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 germs.
  2. Wipe down the 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 which will will not only clear away the algae, it will scrub the basin free of microbes, better preventing the spread of disease.
  3. Use a solution of 9 parts water and either 1 part vinegar or 1 part bleach. 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 well after cleaning it, with high-pressure water. There are also many non-toxic birdbath cleaning solutions available on the market that will do the job effectively.
  4. Dry the birdbath. Allow it to dry out completely before adding new water. It best to leave the basin in full sun to allow it dry out completely. While it 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:

How to Keep Your Birdbath Clean and Healthy for Birds

  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. Pumps are commonly electric-powered, but you can also purchase solar-powered pumps.
  2. Place birdbath 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 the basin 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 as soon as possible.
  3. Rise the basin often 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.

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

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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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