8 EASY Steps to Clean Your Birdbath (AND Keep it Clean!)

Cleaning your birdbath will make a huge difference for birds!

clean your birdbath to attract more birds

Would you want to swim in a filthy swimming pool or drink dirty water? Well, neither do your birds!

Unfortunately, many bird feeding enthusiasts purchase birdbaths, fill them with water, and then NEVER clean them. I think this happens either because people don’t know HOW to clean and disinfect their birdbaths or don’t know WHY it’s so incredibly important.

Today, we will be discussing everything you need to know about cleaning your bird bath!

Specifically, here are the three questions we’ll answer today:

How do I clean a bird bath? (8 steps!)

#1. Gather your supplies.

You probably already have everything you need to clean your birdbath! However, it’s good to have all your supplies ready before starting. It will make the whole process easier and faster.

  • A. Rubber gloves

  • B. A mask

  • C. A wire or plastic cleaning brush

  • D. Bleach or white vinegar

  • E. Garden hose with pressure attachment

  • F. Large black garbage bag

#2. Put on your gloves & mask.

While it’s not strictly necessary to wear gloves and a mask, I recommend it. Unfortunately, birdbaths are a breeding ground for bacteria, not to mention the algae, mold, and bird droppings that pile up.

Gloves and a mask will protect you from coming into contact with these things and the bleach used to clean the birdbath.

#3. Empty your birdbath.

Pour out the dirty water onto garden beds or grass, where it will soak into the ground quickly.

Don’t allow puddles of old water from your birdbath to form.

You want to make sure the water doesn’t create puddles that the birds try to use. Having old standing water nearby would defeat the purpose of cleaning out your birdbath! In addition, mosquitoes LOVE laying eggs in stagnant water.

#4. Remove debris and algae.

The next step to cleaning your birdbath is to remove as much debris and algae as possible.

Birdbaths are notorious for collecting bird droppings, sticks, leaves, and other debris. It’s like a magnet for this kind of stuff! So first, remove all the large debris like sticks, leaves, or shells from your feeders.

In my opinion, using a hose to blast your birdbath is the easiest way to get most of the gross stuff dislodged!

Next, scrub down the surface of the birdbath to remove as much algae as possible. You’ll probably get the birdbath reasonably clean just with this step!

A. This bottle brush has scouring bristles on all sides, making it easy to clean a birdbath.

B. This set of brushes is perfect for cleaning small decorative crevices and cracks that many birdbaths have. But, of course, you can also use an old toothbrush!

I have found that brushes with stiff bristles work best!

#5. Disinfect your birdbath.

After you’ve cleaned your birdbath, it’s time to disinfect it.

Here are three ways to accomplish this:

A. A weak bleach solution will kill the bacteria and algae living in your birdbath. Mix one part bleach with nine parts warm water and stir to create an effective cleaning agent that’s safe to use on birdbaths.

B. You can also use a non-toxic cleaner made specifically for wildlife.

C. An equal mix of white vinegar and water is another effective cleaning agent for birdbaths.

There are two ways to apply your cleaner to the birdbath. First, you can use a spray bottle to cover the birdbath with the solution and then scrub it with your brush. Or, you can dip the brush into the solution and scrub it down.

Make sure you scrub the inside and outside thoroughly, and pay special attention to cracks and crevices. These areas tend to breed bacteria the most.

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If your birdbath is particularly dirty, you should let your bleach solution soak in.

  1. Pour the disinfectant solution directly into the birdbath, so it covers any stains or algae.

  2. Cover the birdbath with a black plastic bag and weigh it down. This serves two purposes – it keeps birds from drinking the chemical solution, which can be deadly, and it also absorbs heat from the sun, which will help clean the birdbath even better.

  3. Let the trash bag sit over the feeder for 15-20 minutes.

  4. Remove it and discard the solution. Be careful, because the solution is toxic and it can damage plants. I pour it on the weeds in my yard. 🙂

#6. Rinse your birdbath to remove the disinfectant.

Rinsing your birdbath is an essential step because you want to remove all traces of disinfectant before your birds drink or bathe in the water.

Spray down the birdbath until the water runs clear and there isn’t any bleach or vinegar smell left. A hose with a pressure attachment is perfect, but you can also use a bucket or watering can to rinse your birdbath.

#7. Dry your birdbath in the sun.

Once you’ve cleaned your birdbath, it’s best to let it dry completely before filling it.

Just let your birdbath sit in the sun for a couple of hours to dry it out. Letting your birdbath air-dry leaves time for any leftover bleach residue to evaporate and makes it harder for algae to grow back. 

#8. Refill your clean birdbath.

clean your birdbath for the health of your birds

Once all the above steps are done, it’s time to refill your birdbath.

Your backyard visitors will enjoy their fresh water, and you’ll probably notice an increase in bird activity! And, you can congratulate yourself on promoting the welfare of all the birds that visit your yard.

Why do I need to clean my birdbath? (3 reasons)

If you have a birdbath, you know how quickly the clean, fresh water can turn into a murky brown puddle. However, regularly cleaning your birdbath has tons of benefits for the birds and you!

A. More birds will visit if you have a clean water source.

Sparkling clean water is one of the best ways to attract birds to your yard. Even birds that don’t traditionally visit feeders, like warblers, thrushes, and tanagers, will investigate a water source!

B. You’ll get more enjoyment from a clean, sparkling birdbath.

Looking out over your garden is a much more pleasant experience with a clean birdbath. For example, compare a bath filled with brownish-green muck to one filled with fresh water, and you’ll see what I mean!

C. Regular cleanings will help keep your backyard birds safe.

Birdbaths are one of the top places where avian disease can be passed from bird to bird. Fortunately, regular cleanings will combat this contamination and keep your birds safe.

How can I keep my birdbath cleaner? (7 tips!)

Fortunately, you can take a few steps to maintain your birdbaths, so they don’t get dirty as quickly.

A. Empty and rinse your birdbath every time you fill it.

It will reduce the pollutants that linger in the birdbath between cleanings.

B. Add a water movement device.

One of the best ways to prevent mosquitos and cut down on algae is to agitate the water in your birdbath. A solar mister or fountain, like one of these, works perfectly!

  • A. API Water Wiggler: This device sits in your birdbath and agitates the water to create gentle rippling motions.

  • B. Solar Bird Bath Fountain: This solar-powered fountain will add splashing sounds and movement to your birdbath.

  • C. Birds Choice Avian Mister: This mister is designed to look like pebbles and will provide a place for birds to perch in your birdbath.

C. Place your birdbath away from bird feeders.

Birds are notoriously messy eaters! Prevent empty shells, dropped seeds, and other debris by keeping your birdbath clear of feeders.

D. Put your birdbath in a shady spot.

Keeping your birdbath out of direct sunlight will inhibit algae growth. In addition, the birdbath will also stay cooler, which will help with mold and fungus.

E. Keep pets and kids away from birdbaths.

Kids and pets love to play in birdbaths! But unfortunately, they also tend to drop things in them, contributing to dirty buildup.

F. Add enzymes to reduce algae or get a copper birdbath.

If you have a serious algae problem in your birdbath, you may need a product to inhibit its growth.

How do you clean YOUR birdbath?

Let us know in the comments!

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  1. We have a small home and yard (fenced in in the backyard); we find using overturned glazed flower pots as a base and a deep saucer makes for a fine birdbath. We do have three actual birdbaths but the saucers work great, too…..change the water every day and sometimes twice a day, especially now that it’s so dry. I think we are a rarity in our area with the birdbaths; but then the birds like our place, too 🙂

  2. I have an old concrete birdbath that developed a crack, causing it to lose its water. So I placed a 2″ deep by 18″ wide, black plastic circular tray in the birdbath to hold the water. It was cheap, works great, easy to clean, and has lasted 4 years so far! Thanks for all you do to keep us in the know about our delightful feathered friends!

  3. I purchased a solar-powered bird bath with a glass basin, which the birds liked but I saw that the neighborhood squirrels couldn’t get to the water, so I removed the stand and put it on the ground. Because the water needs to be replaced several times a day, I also put out a dog bowl for an alternative. It turns out that the squirrels like the bird bath, but the birds prefer the dog bowl. Even with two water sources, I still have to replace the water several times a day, so I bought a THIRD plastic bowl to add to the collection. I just tip them over several times a day and refill them, using a hose if needed to get droppings off. Having these three items in my yard is not particularly aesthetically pleasing and does require frequent attention, but it certainly does the job with less hassle than using gloves and disinfectants, etc.