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Most birders will agree that among the many other bird-related chores, it’s important to know how to clean a bird bath. A clean birdbath is essential to the health and wellbeing of wild birds, as it’s where they come to drink and bathe. Along with providing water for our feathered friends, a good birdbath offers beautiful views from your home.

A dirty bird bath with polluted water can harm birds and spread disease, which can also affect other wildlife in your locality. Additionally, any stagnant water can even attract mice and unwanted insects such as mosquitos. Therefore, it is imperative to keep your bird bath clean.

You can do this job yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Just remember that it’s essential to do this regularly to promote a healthy diet for your backyard birds.

So, if you’re ready to start cleaning your bird bath, read our post for instructions on keeping your water fresh and bacteria-free!

Cleaning a Bird Bath: Step By Step

Cleaning kit

These instructions assume that you have a free-standing concrete bird bath, but in some cases can be applied to most other types, too, even DIY bird baths that you may have made from household items.

  1. Choose a dry, sunny day; the bird bath can be hosed down with a pressure hose, or you can use jugs and buckets of clean water. However, a pressure hose is best.
  2. Using your hands or small scoop, remove the build-up of any fallen leaves or other debris from the basin. Be sure to wear gloves because you’ll no doubt encounter large bird droppings or spilled seed deposits from nearby bird feeders, so hand hygiene is important.
  3. Drain any existing water from the bird bath by using the drain hole. If it’s a DIY bird bath that doesn’t have a drain hole, use whichever method you see fit to remove the water.
  4. Use warm water and mild dishwashing detergent to clean the bird bath basin, but avoid using bleach or other disinfectants. Birds already have enough problems with toxic chemicals in their food supply and pesticides in the air, so let’s keep them safe and healthy. You can also buy bird bath cleaner online or from most bird supply stores. Or, you can use a homemade cleaning solution of one part distilled white vinegar to nine parts water.
  5. Use a scrub brush to clean the entire basin and anywhere else that your backyard birds might perch. You’ll most likely have some algae growth if this is the first time cleaning your bird bath. If so, be sure to remove algae by thoroughly cleaning the surface.
  6. Using a high-powered hose like a jetwash, spray the dirty water off and give a rinse.
  7. Repeat the above process once more, scrubbing any leftover dirt and rinsing until the cleaning solution is completely gone.
  8. Allow the bird bath to dry completely before refilling with fresh water.
  9. Please remember to wash any perches, cups, or toys in your bird bath too, as if left unwashed, they can contaminate your clean water.

Bird Bath Cleaning Tips

Closeup black head of high pressure water cleaner as waterbeam emerges.

Above we discussed the methods to clean a bird bath effectively, but below, we’ll cover some tips that may be useful to consider during the process.

  • It’s tempting to drain the old water and refill it without cleaning the bath. However, this isn’t good practice and should be avoided.
  • When cleaning a birdbath, you might want to wear rubber gloves, especially if using a bleach solution.
  • Also, use a scrub brush designated explicitly for cleaning bird baths.
  • Make sure you locate the drain hole at the bottom of your bird bath to remove it when you are cleaning. Scrub both inside and outside of the basin with mild soap and rinse well.
  • Inspect it daily and perform regular cleaning. Frequent cleanings reduce algae growth and, depending on how many birds visit your bird bath, will also determine how dirty it gets and how often it should be cleaned.
  • The best time to clean your bird bath is around once per week, but once a fortnight is fine, especially in colder months. In summer or in hotter climates, bird baths should be cleaned more regularly so that they do not develop scum at the bottom, which will attract mosquitoes.
  • Do not use neat chemicals such as bleach, disinfectants or deodorizers in or around dirty bird baths, as this will be highly toxic for birds and other animals. Diluted bleach solution is fine, provided it is rinsed off thoroughly.
  • Baking soda is useful for many different things in the garden, and it’s amazing on tough stains. Let it form a paste, and use a scrub brush to clean up. If you have an extremely dirty bird bath, you can also use a vinegar solution left to soak.
  • Do not add pesticides or chemicals to your water as this will negatively affect the birds using it.
  • Always refill a clean, fresh bird bath with clean water after you have scrubbed it.
  • If you are also caring for lots of birds and other animals in your backyard, then consider building an aviary with a large mesh cage to keep insects and other pests out of the water.
  • It is always best to choose a location for your birdbath so that the water is not just sitting in the sun all day, which can be quite hot under some circumstances. A shady spot yet away from falling leaves is best.
  • If you want to add flowers to the top or sides of your birdbath, then look for the ones that will thrive in the shade.

Keeping Bird Baths Free Of Bugs and Mosquitos

Bees are drinking water at birdbath in a green and yellow flower garden on midday.

If you live in a hot country or find hot summer days in the UK attracting mosquitoes to your bird bath, read on. You can do a lot to maintain a clean and attractive bath for your avian friends and keep the mosquitoes at bay as well.

  1. Use natural ingredients such as hot pepper and garlic oil, or citronella oil to ward off mosquitoes. Try scattering cayenne pepper around the bird bath using an old paintbrush. Garlic oil can be mixed with water in a spray bottle to create an all-natural mosquito repellent for your garden.
  2. Add plantings around your bird bath; many plants such as marigolds and catmint help drive away mosquitoes naturally with their strong scents and tastes.
  3. Use self-filling water dishes, including a bird bath fountain, to prevent mosquito larvae from developing into adults.
  4. Try to keep your bird bath full to avoid concentrating pollutants in smaller amounts of water. This will slow down and minimize algae growth.
  5. Clean your bird bath weekly with a bit of dish soap and hot water. Scrape off any growth at the bottom of your bird bath so that only fresh water remains. Rinse thoroughly and allow the bath to sit in the sun for maximum disinfection.

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