How to Clean a Birdbath

A bird sits on the edge of a dirty birdbath.

Over time, standing water can get smelly. If your birdbath is filled with poop, algae, diatoms, dead leaves, etc., the birds will stop coming. And what’s the point of a birdbath if birds stop coming? Decoration? Okay, so I guess that’s possible. But sooner or later, even decorative birdbaths need to be cleaned. Cleaning a birdbath is relatively straightforward and easy, but let me steer you in the right direction.

Cleaning a Birdbath is Easy

  1. bunch of hosesYou’re going to need a few things to clean your birdbath. It’s pretty straightforward, but pay attention because there’ll be a quiz later. Here’s your list of materials: Bleach (check the info below for my suggestion there, you WILL want to go all natural), a source of clean water (a hose or a bucket filled in a sink), two unused sponges, a soft-bristled scrub brush, and an unclean birdbath.
  2. old birdbathEmpty the birdbath and rinse. Most birdbaths will tip over or even come with removable basins. Tip or remove and empty it of water. Rinse with clean water. If you have a hose, get a spray nozzle that has a high-pressure feature. Blast the heck out of the birdbath on high pressure for a bit and then move on to cleaning the birdbath.
  3. cement truckMake your cleaning solution. Take a bucket (a gallon bucket will work) and fill it halfway with warm water. Put three capfuls of bleach in the water and mix well. For a little extra birdbath-cleaning power, go ahead and add a squirt of dish detergent. You’ll want to use a mild, unscented one so as not to toxify the birdbath and risk the health of your feathered friends. I recommend Seventh Generation dish soap as it’s all natural and great for cleaning a birdbath.
  4. scrub boards in wash basinScrubby scrubby! Take one of your clean, unused sponges or soft-bristled scrub brush and dip it into the cleaning solution. Without squeezing out the excess, slop that sucker into the birdbath and start scrubbing. This will likely require a bit of elbow grease, so don’t be afraid to use a lot of cleaning solution. When you’ve scrubbed the entire birdbath, dump the solution out. This is why it is important to use ALL-NATURAL bleach and ALL-NATURAL dish detergent, as other commercially available stuff will damage your lawn.
  5. Rinse the birdbath. Take your source of clean water and rinse the birdbath. If you have a hose, start spraying with low pressure and work your way up to high pressure to avoid foam developing in your birdbath. If you do not have a hose, dump your bucket, rinse it thoroughly, and fill it with warm water. Use your fresh water and your second sponge to rinse out the residual cleaning solution. Guess what? CLEAN BIRDBATH!
  6. soaking birdbathDealing with pesky lime buildup. Fill your birdbath with a solution made of half water and half vinegar. Let that sit for a couple of hours to give the vinegar time to break down the lime buildup. Then dump the solution and rinse again. You may need to scrub down the bowl one more time with your sponge or brush, but you won’t need to use bleach or soap again. Now you can refill your clean birdbath with impunity.

Now That You Have a Clean Birdbath

Normally I would discuss frequency here, but in terms of cleaning your birdbath, it’s subjective. Standing water can turn quickly or slowly depending on your region, the ambient temperature, and the presence or lack of bathing birds. Judge by smell: If you get within ten feet of your birdbath and it stinks like pond-death, time to clean.

Natural Birdbath Cleaners

Spray bottle of Statuary CleanerMicrobe-Lift’s Birdbath & Statuary Cleaner(soy-based). They can make everything out of soy these days, can’t they? This stuff is great. It comes in a convenient spray bottle and has the magical ability to clean a birdbath with minimal labor. You can use this with a sponge, but it would probably work best with a soft-bristled brush.

Container of Oxygen BleachOxygen bleach.Never heard of this before? Neither had I until I started writing this article. Oxygen bleaches are one of three things: hydrogen peroxide, sodium percarbonate, or sodium perborate. Hydrogen peroxide is a liquid and the other two are powders. And, as it turns out, oxygen bleaches make fantastic birdbath cleaners. Best if used with a soft-bristled brush. You can find bottles of Microbe-Lift cleaner at Amazon.

bottle of seventh generation bleachSeventh Generation Bleach. This works for cleaning birdbaths because it’s all natural. The reason why that’s important is because naked bird flesh and caustic chemicals don’t mix. Plus, when you rid yourself of the extra cleaning solution, it may kill your grass. And that’s bad. Go natural or go home!

Bottle of Birdbath ClearMicrobe-Lift’s Birdbath Clear.One of the many useful products from Microbe-Lift, Birdbath Clear is an all-natural water additive to help keep your birdbath cleaner for longer. It hinders the development of mineral buildup and organic contaminates.