How to Clean a Bird Bath the Right Way

Updated: Feb. 06, 2023

Offer clean water for your birds. Experts explain the best ways how to clean a bird bath and how to keep algae from growing in the water.

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Cardinals on a birdbath, how to clean a bird bathCourtesy Kerry Loving
Keep your bird bath clean to keep birds healthy and happy.

Janice Ruesch of Farport, New York, says, “I clean my bird baths many times during the summer, but it seems like they’re not actually getting clean. What is the proper way to clean a bird bath?”

Depending on the material your bird bath is made from, a mixture of water and bleach can be an effective cleaning solution. If you’re in doubt about how well the material will hold up, be sure to test a small area first before cleaning the whole bird bath.

Check out the best bird baths and fountains to attract birds.

How to Clean a Concrete Bird Bath

  1. If the bird bath is made of concrete, empty out the water.
  2. Using a hose with a high-pressure nozzle, spray off any built up algae or dirt.
  3. Add water to the bird bath until it’s almost full. Then add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of bleach.
  4. Cover the entire bath with a black trash bag to prevent any birds from getting to the bleach water.
  5. Allow it to soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the plastic bag.
  7. Carefully drain the bleach water mixture in a safe area.
  8. Then rinse the bath for a few minutes with fresh water until you can no longer detect the smell of bleach.

Learn how to attract birds to use a bird bath.

How to Clean a Bird Bath With Vinegar

You can also freshen up your backyard bird bath in a snap with vinegar. Just rinse off the surface and scrub out the basin with nine parts water to one part vinegar.

Add a bird bath for hummingbirds to your yard.

How to Keep Algae out of a Bird Bath

how to clean a bird bathCourtesy Cheryl Terral
A female ruby-throated hummingbird in a bird bath fountain 

Patricia Sparks of Helendale, California, asks: “I’m careful to properly clean my bird baths, but algae is still a problem. What should I do?”

Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman write, “Algae grow in standing water, so it’s important to clean and change the water in bird baths every few days. In hot weather, we change the water in our bird baths every day, scrubbing with a stiff brush and rinsing thoroughly before refilling. If algae continue to be a problem after proper cleaning, you might need to move your bird baths to a different location. It’s best to keep them out of full sun, but avoid putting them directly under trees or shrubs where algae spores may drop directly into the water. Moving water also helps prevent algae, so consider adding a solar fountain or dripper, which will help attract more birds too.”

Learn how to clean hummingbird feeders.