How to clean a birdbath and keep it clean


Birds need clean water to bathe in and to drink. That’s why they’re more attracted to feeders located near birdbaths. Adding a birdbath to your landscape can help engage more birds and a greater variety of birds.

If you decide to install a birdbath, it’s important to keep it clean for the birds’ and your own health. When birdbaths are left to become foul-smelling and unpleasant, they’re no longer attractive to birds. Dirty birdbaths are more likely to be used as a breeding ground for mosquitoes than as an oasis for birds, and they can turn into hubs for mosquito-borne diseases.

Fortunately, cleaning your birdbath doesn’t have to be a major task. A good location, daily maintenance and regular cleanings can help ensure it stays clean throughout the summer and into fall.

Keeping your birdbath clean

Choosing a good location makes a huge difference when it comes to birdbath cleanliness.

  • Birdbaths placed too close or directly under feeding or nesting areas will quickly accumulate bird droppings, bird food and debris that have been dropped. 
  • Shaded areas are preferred to direct sunlight to discourage algae growth. Choosing a shaded location will also ensure the water stays cooler for the birds.
  • Private locations are better because they keep birds safe and reduce the potential for bacteria and dirt to be introduced by pets or children.

Daily maintenance will also help keep your birdbath clean and reduce the amount of time it takes to clean it each week.

  • Emptying, rinsing and refilling your bird bath daily will go a long way to ensuring it stays clean and your backyard birds always have access to a fresh water source. It prevents dirt and debris from building up and mosquito larvae from hatching in your birdbath.

Your birdbath should be cleaned once a week to remove algae and disinfect it. If you keep up with changing the water daily, it shouldn’t take very long.

You can clean your birdbath with a non-toxic cleaner made specifically for wildlife, a bleach-water solution or a vinegar-water solution.


  • Rubber gloves
  • Mask
  • Scrub brush
  • Garden hose
  • Disinfectant solution


  1. Empty your birdbath. Pour the dirty water out of your birdbath into an area where it will soak into the ground quickly.
  2. Remove debris and algae. Scrape out sticks, leaves and other debris, and then hose as much algae off the inside as you can before you start scrubbing.
  3. Soak your birdbath. If your bird bath is extremely dirty, you may have to soak it before scrubbing. You can use a homemade disinfectant solution that’s either nine parts water to one part vinegar or bleach, or you can use a store-bought solution that’s specifically made for birdbaths. Fill your birdbath with the solution so that it covers any stains or algae for 15-20 minutes before you start scrubbing. Be careful emptying the solution so you don’t damage surrounding plants.
  4. Scrub out your birdbath with a disinfectant solution. Spray the disinfectant solution on the inside of your birdbath and scrub or dip your scrub brush into the solution and clean the inside thoroughly, including cracks and crevices. 
  5. Rinse your birdbath. After you’ve scrubbed your birdbath, rinse it thoroughly to remove any trace of the disinfectant you used to clean it. The water should run clear and you shouldn’t be able to smell any chemicals that may have been left behind.
  6. Let your birdbath dry out completely. Letting your birdbath air dry will help ensure any leftover residue evaporates before you fill it. It also makes it harder for algae to grow back. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to dry completely.
  7. Refill your bird bath. Refill your birdbath with clean, cool water and enjoy the influx of activity you’ll have immediately after cleaning it.
  8. Consider adding a fountain. Moving water stays much cleaner than stagnant water. Installing a fountain will help reduce algae growth and prevent mosquitoes from hatching in your birdbath.

Related Content



Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!



We are glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment policy.

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.