Backyard Birds

Follow These Tips on How to Clean Your Birdbath

A clean birdbath filled with fresh water will be the most attractive to birds, and knowing how to clean a birdbath properly and safely will allow birders to maintain backyard water sources easily.

Why Cleaning Is Necessary

No one wants to drink dirty, polluted water, including birds, but clean water is more important than just for taste. Dirty water can spread disease to flocks of backyard birds and encourage gnat and mosquito populations that can in turn infect humans and other animals. Clean water, on the other hand, is more attractive to the birds and will bring a wider variety of birds to your backyard.

Minimizing Dirty Birdbaths

The easiest way to clean a birdbath is to ensure it doesn’t get dirty. While all birdbaths will eventually need to be cleaned, there are steps that can be taken to minimize the need for frequent cleanings.

  • When refilling the birdbath, dump out the stagnant water instead of just adding more.
  • Position the birdbath away from feeders so spilled seed will not land in the water.
  • Choose a shady spot for the birdbath to minimize algae growth and slow evaporation.
  • Position the birdbath where it will not be clogged by grass clippings, falling leaves and other debris.

No matter how carefully a birdbath is maintained, however, it will still need regular cleanings.

Steps to Clean a Birdbath

Note: Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning a birdbath to avoid contamination from fecal matter in the water or on the surface of the birdbath.

  1. Dump out any old, stagnant water.
  2. Remove any large deposits of spilled seed, feces, debris or other contaminants.
  3. Use a solution of one part distilled white vinegar to nine parts water to scrub the birdbath thoroughly. Scrub the basin, lip, and any area of the birdbath where the birds can land, perch, drink or bathe. For extremely dirty birdbaths, it may be necessary to allow the vinegar solution to soak for several minutes, but monitor or cover the bath during that time to be sure no birds drink.
  4. Rinse the birdbath thoroughly with running water until there is no persistent foaming.
  5. Allow the birdbath to dry completely. This is a good opportunity to clean the area around the birdbath, refill feeders or do other bird-related chores.
  6. Refill the bath with fresh, clean water.

Materials needed…

  • Water
  • Scrub brush – appropriate for birdbath construction
  • Rubber gloves
  • White vinegar

Tips for Cleaning Birdbaths

A clean, filled birdbath can be an oasis for many species of birds. For the best results when cleaning the birdbath…

  • Thoroughly clean the birdbath 2-3 times per week depending on how many birds are using it.
  • Use a jet or pressure hose setting to rinse out the birdbath between regular cleanings.
  • Clean the entire birdbath fixture at regular intervals.
  • Consider adding enzymes approved for wildlife consumption (found at pet and bird supply stores) to a clean birdbath to minimize algae growth.
  • Keep the birdbath full to avoid concentrating pollutants in smaller amounts of water.