How Often Should You Clean a Bird Bath

Having a birdbath in your garden not only attracts lots more songbirds than feeders alone, but it also helps you do your bit to keep them safe and clean.

It seems pointless providing the birds with somewhere to wash if you don’t bother maintaining it. It isn’t a huge task and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes a week.

Here, we discuss how often you should clean a birdbath to keep it in the best condition.

Many factors contribute to a dirty birdbath; its location, the weather, how much bird traffic it sees, and the season.

As a general rule of thumb, a quick clean with a jet of water, 2-3 times per week is sufficient. Then, once or twice a month, give the bath a more thorough clean to prevent any harmful build-up.

Why You Should Clean a Birdbath

Stagnant water carries disease, and as birds drink from birdbaths, they easily pick up an infection.

Dirty water is a breeding ground for all kinds of water-borne pests and parasites; once they invade a garden, the flowers and plants are prone to attack.

Baths with a coating of algae won’t attract birds; they much prefer clean, fresh water and will fly past anything dirty.

Although algae aren’t strictly harmful to the birds, they can create an awful smell that lingers in a garden.

When is it time to clean a birdbath?

When you notice discolouration in the bottom of the water reservoir, it’s time for a freshen up.

The first noticeable sign might be the formation of algae.

I change my birdbaths every evening as part of my watering routine. Instead of adding to the existing water, I put the hose onto jet spray. This way it gives a quick clean as well as adding fresh drinking water.

Remember, fresh water is every bit as important in the winter as it is in the summer. Although it requires more work, endeavour to keep the bath ice-free and the water as clean as possible.

How to Clean a Birdbath

When the time comes to give the birdbath a deeper clean, grab some rubber gloves, a scouring brush, and some chlorine bleach or white vinegar.

  1. Drain the dirty water; tip it onto flower beds or lawn, anywhere that it can soak in and not harm the wildlife.
  • Shake out any loose debris; use the brush to free any that may have stuck to the basin.
  • Mix a solution of 9:1 bleach (or vinegar) and use it as a cleaning agent.
  • When the scrubbing is complete, thoroughly rinse the bath. Be careful not to empty the solution onto the grass or flowers; it will kill them.
  • Leave it in the sun to dry the birdbath thoroughly. Don’t be overly concerned by any lingering chlorine; the sun’s rays will break it down and remove any odour.
  • Refill with fresh water and watch your feathered friends enjoy splashing around.

Can you stop birdbaths from getting dirty?

Unless you’re willing to check the water in the birdbath several times a day, there is little you can do to stop a certain level of dirtiness. A simple daily regime ensures the water remains fresh and the basin stays clean.

Don’t top the water up. Empty stagnant water and refill with fresh; some harmful particles are too small to see.

Put your bath in the shade. Algae love sunlight and grow at a much faster rate in the heat.

Remove debris regularly. Leaves, berries, and bird poop will contaminate the water if the bath is directly beneath a feeding station or tree. If there is no other place to locate the birdbath, clean out the offending articles daily, if possible.

Add a water feature. Bacteria is unlikely to grow in moving water. Solar-powered fountains are an inexpensive way to keep the water moving and catch the birds’ attention.

Add water enzyme. An enzyme is an agent that keeps water cleaner for longer. Ensure you get the type that is fit for animal consumption.

Final thoughts

Thanks for taking the time to read how often should you clean a birdbath. Now that you realise it is a relatively simple task that doesn’t take much time, hopefully, you will attract more varied birds to have a splash in your garden.

1 thought on “How Often Should You Clean a Bird Bath”

  1. I have regular feathered visitors to a back piazza style area of a block of flats. The two pigeons that visit and bathe every day, definitely tell me in their own way when they think the water is too dirty for them to drink from. The jay comes later in the afternoon for his daily bath while the blackbird comes around midday. I’m not staring out into the space as it might seem, I just hear it from where I have been wfh. Each visitor has a particular sound of splashing. All very wary while bathing but thoroughly enjoy it.


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