Last Updated on April 16, 2022 by Marco C.
Bird baths, just like bird feeders, are a great way of attracting birds to your yard, but how to keep bird baths clean is a question of its own, as we know that birds can get very filthy. There are effective ways to clean your bird bath, and in today’s article, we’ll be learning how to clean it and minimize any future filth.
How To Keep Bird Baths Clean
- pressurized hose
- chlorine bleach
- trash bags
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Watering and Scrubbing
After you’ve cleared all the birds out, if there were any, you should empty the bird bath and cover it with clean water from your pressurized hose.
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If you have a pressure washer – that’s even better, you can essentially do 90% of the work with it.
You should cover the entire bath in water and scrub it – don’t add any ingredients at this point. As we said, if you have a pressure washer, then you won’t need to scrub anything. This initial scrubbing is here just to clean all the feces – you’ll be taking it to the next level in the next step.
Once you’ve taken off all the feces and any other large chunks of dirt, you can move on to the second step.
Step 2: Water and Vinegar
Make a mixture of 1 part vinegar – 9 parts water and scrub the entire bird bath with it – this should be enough to take care of most dirt that needs deep scrubbing. After you gave it a good scrub, you can rinse it all away with clean water.
Step 3: Water and Bleach
The final step to cleaning your bird bath is filling the basin of the bath with water and adding a cup of bleach to the water. Stir the water and cover the basin with a black trash bag – the trash bag really needs to be black.
After about fifteen minutes, you can remove the trash bag and rinse the mixture with clean water. The bleach should take care of almost anything, and if there are any microscopic bits that remain dirty – the birds probably won’t mind.
Step 4: Preventing Dirt Buildup
The best way to prevent dirt and filth buildup is by changing the water once a week – you won’t need to wash your bath once a week, just change the water. Some people think that using products you’d use for a pool is a smart idea, but it really isn’t – birds don’t have the same chemical resistance we do.
It’s also potentially harmful to the natural oils on their wings, and it would be really bad if you affected those oils in any way.
Some of the more ingenious people tried using water pumps, like ones seen in pools, to circulate the water and filter it through. The results are mixed – bird baths are so small that using a large water pump is usually a waste of electricity (not to mention that there’ll be very little water in the bath).
However, a positive effect of a pump is the constant moving of water – this prevents algae from building upon the surface of the water, which is a great thing. Using chemicals that are supposed to slow down algae growth, on the other hand, isn’t safe for birds and should be avoided.
Tips and Tricks
Bird baths are always going to get dirty and it’s impossible to keep them clean in the long term, but regularly changing the water goes a long way, as the feces and other filth can’t form quickly and you’ll most likely clean them by emptying the bath.
Some people claim that throwing a few copper coins in the water is a life-saver when it comes to algae buildup, as copper causes a chemical reaction and it slows down algae growth. Although it’s unconfirmed, it’s not harmful to the birds, so there’s no cost in trying.
If you do have a power washer, washing the bird bath every time you empty it will take about 5 minutes, but it will completely reset the growth of all bacteria, not to mention that you’ll immediately take care of most dirt.
Warm, sunny areas are much better for algae, bacteria, and parasite development – keeping your bird bath in a shady spot won’t make a difference to the birds themselves, but it will definitely be an improvement when it comes to dirt.
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What can you put in bird baths to keep them clean?
Nothing - you should definitely avoid traditional swimming pool chemicals as they're usually toxic for birds. The only way to keep them clean is by cleaning them. To keep them from getting dirty regularly, you have to clean them regularly and change the water once a week.
How do you keep algae from growing in a bird bath?
The only 100% effective way is by changing the water once a week. Putting the bird bath in a shady spot will slow them down (and some claim that copper coins will too), but the only certain way is by changing the water frequently.
Do copper pennies keep bird baths clean?
There's no scientific study to prove this - and it's likely that no one will ever conduct a study with this purpose. However, copper coins aren't harmful to birds, so you can try it in your own bath. Some people swear that pennies help drastically.
Is it OK to put bleach in bird bath?
Yes, but only when you're washing it - and you have to add it in a water solution with no more than a cup and a half of bleach. Make sure that you rinse it all once you're done with washing.
The best way to keep bird baths clean is by frequently changing the water – at least once a week. When washing, use vinegar and bleach, never use swimming pool chemicals to wash the bath as they’re harmful to the birds.