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Birdbath Care – How To Clean & Take Care Of Your Birdbath

birdbath heater

Cleaning a birdbath and taking care of it is vital, but it is well worth any effort for all the hours of enjoyment you receive from watching the birds, as well as the benefits the birds derive from a fresh source of water.

We’ve gathered some tips and tricks to make cleaning a birdbath as easy as possible!




Change the water every few days (2-4 days are typical times), if it is not re-circulated through a filter system. A simple flush with a garden hose is all it takes. The amount of use by the birds will determine how often the water needs to be changed. Frequent changes minimize pollution from bathing birds, will prevent mosquito larvae from developing and will slow the growth of algae.

The bath should be scrubbed at least once a week with a brush to keep algae at bay. There are products (offered by companies like Carefree Enzymes Inc. and others) that provide bird-safe water treatment to help control the growth of algae.

If algae growth becomes a problem, use a 10% bleach and water solution to clean the bath. Be sure to rinse thoroughly after cleaning with a bleach solution. A 50-50 mix of vinegar and water can also help remove algae.

If the design of your birdbath supports it, a small pump or re-circulation system is a good idea. A filter arrangement helps keep the water fresh and moving water will control the development of mosquito larvae.


Cold weather use

Several days of freezing weather can limit the availability of free water. A heated birdbath can be just the ticket for a cold, thirsty bird. A variety of heaters are available for birdbaths.

Some birdbath designs include a built-in heater. Heaters require electricity. Be sure to use an electrical circuit with a ground fault interrupter.

If you do not use a heater, be sure to drain the water from your birdbath, hoses and pumps. Do not add glycerin or other additives to the water to prevent it from freezing.


West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus is spread by the bite of a mosquito. You can not contract the disease by standing next to a birdbath. Refreshing the water in the birdbath every few days will prevent any mosquito larvae from maturing.


Tips to keep your birdbath in order & clean

Taking care of your birdbath and keeping it clean is crucial for the health and well-being of the birds that visit your garden. Here are steps to help you maintain and clean your birdbath.


Regular Maintenance

  • Frequent Inspection: Regularly inspect your birdbath for any signs of damage, such as cracks or instability. Repair or replace parts as needed.
  • Water Level: Keep an eye on the water level. Ensure that there is enough water for birds to drink and bathe comfortably.
  • Refill as Needed: Check the water in your birdbath daily, especially during hot weather, and refill it as needed. Birds may avoid a birdbath with insufficient water.
  • Remove Debris: Clear any leaves, twigs, or other debris from the birdbath regularly. This helps maintain water quality and prevents clogs.
  • Scrubbing Algae: Algae can develop in standing water. Use a stiff brush to scrub the birdbath basin regularly to remove algae and prevent it from becoming a health hazard.
  • Reposition in Shade: If possible, position your birdbath in a shaded area. This can help slow down the growth of algae and keep the water cooler for the birds.



  • Empty and Rinse: At least once a week, empty the birdbath completely. Rinse it thoroughly to remove any dirt or sediment.
  • Scrubbing: Use a mild detergent, bleach, or white vinegar solution (1 part bleach or vinegar to 9 parts water) to scrub the basin and pedestal. Scrub all surfaces, including hard-to-reach areas.
  • Disinfecting: Disinfect the birdbath by filling it with the cleaning solution and letting it sit for 10-15 minutes. Scrub again, and then thoroughly rinse to remove any cleaning residues.
  • Avoid Chemicals: Avoid using harsh chemicals or strong cleaners, as these can be harmful to birds. Stick to mild, bird-safe cleaning solutions.
  • Remove Mineral Deposits: If your area has hard water, mineral deposits may accumulate on the birdbath. Use a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water or a commercial lime scale remover to dissolve these deposits. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Clean the Pump (if applicable): If your birdbath has a pump or water circulation system, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintaining it. Clean the pump and tubing regularly to ensure proper function.

Winter Care

In colder climates, empty and store the birdbath during the winter to prevent freezing and cracking. Alternatively, use a birdbath heater to keep the water from freezing.


See birdbaths by type: Pedestal Birdbaths | On-Ground Birdbaths | Hanging Birdbaths

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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