How to Clean and Keep Birdbath Water Clean | The Right Way

Did you notice your birdbath going green or being extremely dirty and wondering how to keep it clean? There are various threats unclean water could pose to the health of your winged friends. So to keep the water free of contamination and predators, you need to know how to keep your birdbath water clean and the right way to maintain it.

Dirty birdbath water can become smelly and attracts mosquitoes to your yard aside from the health threat it poses to your feathered friends. After attracting birds to your yard, knowing to maintain their presence is important. 

When the birdbath becomes dirty, you can clean it using one part of vinegar and one part of water with a hose or scrub to remove stains. Rinse thoroughly when you are done. However, there are other ways to keep your birdbath clean and free of mosquitoes and other fungi.

Now you have them hovering around your backyard while they bring some sense of peacefulness and make your yard that perfect garden you have always dreamed of. But not knowing some primary backyard bird care, such as keeping the bird water clean, could drive them away.

Birds want to know they are safe, and a dirty birdbath does not provide such assurance. So how do you keep the birdbath water clean? Before we go into that, let’s talk about why you should keep the bird water clean; knowing this can always motivate you to keep the bird batch when feeling too lazy.

Why You Should Keep Your Birdbath Clean

There are various reasons to keep your birdbath clean; however, we highlighted two essential reasons for you and your feathered friends.

Prevent Mosquitoes

A neglected and dirty birdbath will become a habitat for mosquitos. You can dislodge them by frequently cleaning and keeping the water clean. A mosquito-infested yard will be unlivable and annoying to use. For this reason, it is important to keep your birdbath clean so that you can enjoy the outdoor space. Check out how to keep your yard free of mosquitos. 

Prevent the spread of diseases

There are many reasons to keep your birdbath clean, but the most urgent one is to prevent the spread of diseases.

Diseases can spread by water droplets, which can happen if a sick bird goes in and splashes around in your birdbath. When the uninfected birds go into the bath afterward, they may be exposed to any diseases that other birds have contracted.

Birds can also contract infections from contact with parasites that may lurk in dirty water or on algae- or mold-covered surfaces. For these reasons, it’s important to keep your birdbath clean year-round!

how to keep bird water clean
A male bluebird enjoying a backyard birdbath in Forest,

How to Clean a Birdbath

If you already have molds, mildew, and smelly water in the birdbath, then you will need to clean it. There are various ways and methods to clean a birdbath and keep it clean, which are put into detail below.

The first step is washing the birdbath using a hose, brush, vinegar, or baking soda to remove all sorts of debris and stain that might have settled on the bowl. Explained in detail are the various ways of cleaning your dirty birdbath below.

How to clean bird bath with baking soda

One of those ways of cleaning a birdbath is by using a cleaning agent called “baking soda.” You should add about one teaspoon or a half cup of it per gallon of water in the birdbath.

Baking soda is a naturally occurring substance that contains sodium bicarbonate. It’s often used as a cleaning agent because it can help break down organic matter like algae. You can find it at most grocery stores.

After adding the baking soda to your birdbath, let it sit for about fifteen minutes before rinsing out any residue with fresh water from a garden hose or other source of clean water.

If you have any hard stains, put some baking soda on it, let it sit for some minutes, then scrub with a brush. This should keep your birdbath clean and ready for your twittering guests to arrive.

How to clean a birdbath with vinegar

To clean a birdbath with vinegar, mix one-part white vinegar with four parts of water in a bucket. Scrub the bath with a sponge dipped into the solution, and then rinse.

The vinegar acid helps kill bacteria and algae that can grow in standing water. Remove any debris from the birdbath, such as leaves or twigs, before cleaning it.

  • Mix one part white vinegar to four parts water in a bucket.
  • Dip a clean sponge or soft-bristled brush into the solution.
  • Using a brush, scrub down the entire birdbath, including the sides and base, with the solution.·
  • Rinse out the birdbath with clean water from a garden hose.

Fill the birdbath with clean water using a garden hose or your hose’s spray nozzle set on “shower.”

How to keep bird bath water clean

Now you have a birdbath with clean water, so how do you keep it clean to avoid watching every now and then? There are various ways and precautions to keep your birdbath water clean for long.

Using Self-cleaning birdbath

A good way to keep your birdbath clean is by using a self-cleaning birdbath, which will eliminate the trouble of cleaning every now and then. This type of birdbath works by scheduling the exchange of birdbath water to prevent the accumulation of algae and stains on the basing of the bowl.

With this, your feathered friends are guaranteed reliable, clean water. A self-cleaning birdbath known as Birdbath butter makes a complete exchange of water two or four times daily.

It does this by forcefully displacing dirty or stale water with the help of a programmed timer. After which, the basin is filled with fresh water within the same interval, which is separately programmed.

Use a Fountain Pump

Another good way to keep your birdbath water clean is to use a fountain pump, which keeps the water from being stagnant. This prevents the growth and habitation of various bacteria and fungi.

Another advantage of using a pump is that it creates a trickling sensation of water that birds love. This will, in turn, attract more birds to your yard. Many solar pumps are suitable for this purpose and require little to no form of maintenance.

Keep the bird bath away from bird feeders.

If you place your bird bath close to the birdfeeders, there is a tendency for feeds or seeds from the feeder to find their way into the birdbath, thus contaminating the water. To prevent this from happening, keep the birdbath away from the feeder, so seeds don’t find their way into it.

Common agents responsible for transferring seeds and weeds into the birdbath are the birds and winds. So place your birdbath in a place where the birds or the winds won’t be able to bring particles into it.

how to keep birdbath water clean
Little birds taking a bath

What to put in bird bath water to keep it clean

The simplest way to keep bird bath water clean is to keep it moving. A pump or a fountain that circulates the water will prevent bacteria from growing in stagnant water and help keep the water clean for days, if not weeks.

  • Add some bleach

If you want to make sure that the water is super-clean, you can add a tablespoon of chlorine bleach to your bath, but only use enough to make the water slightly cloudy. Don’t add so much that you could see the bottom of the bath if there was no water in it.

  • Add Hydrogen

We also recommend adding either a capful or an eyedropper full of hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water as an extra precaution.

  • Add some crushed eggshells.

You can also add some crushed eggshells (no more than 1 1/2 tablespoons per gallon) to increase the pH level and discourage bacteria growth.

Bird Baths FAQs

What kind of water to put in the birdbath

The best water for your birdbath is fresh, clean water. Change the water in your birdbath every three days to keep it from getting dirty and smelly.

You can use tap water or filtered water in your birdbath. If you live in a place that has hard, chlorinated, or heavily treated tap water, you may want to consider using filtered water instead.

If you live somewhere that gets hard freezes, you should bring your birdbath inside during the winter months to protect it from cracking and breaking.

How Often Should You Empty Your Bird Bath?

You should check on your birdbath every day to ensure that the water is still clear. If it’s not clear, you should empty it and refill it with fresh water.

If you live in a hot climate, you will need to empty and refill it more often because heat makes bacteria grow faster than usual. However, if you live in a cold environment, you can probably get away with checking on it every other day or so during the winter months when there is less activity around your yard.

Should a birdbath be in the sun or shade?

No, it should not. Many pet owners will place a birdbath outside in the sun to attract birds. They are mistaken. In fact, the opposite is true: placing a birdbath in direct sunlight is detrimental to birds. It can cause burns and other injuries.

When you look at the scientific literature on birdbaths, you find that they almost always require shade to prevent burns and other skin injuries caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays (UVB), which can lead to cancer. So it is better to have a birdbath under a tree or shade to prevent burns.


Bacteria in birdbath water can make birds sick. The good news is that you can prevent most bacteria from growing in your birdbath by cleaning it out regularly and keeping the water clean.

One of the easiest ways to keep your bird bath clean is to use a fountain pump to prevent the water from being stagnant. Other methods include adding some chlorine bleach, hydrogen, and crushed eggshell.

A couple of tablespoons of chlorine bleach added to the water every few days can help keep algae growth down, but it won’t prevent bacteria from forming.

Chlorine bleach effectively kills both types of organisms, while others only kill one type or the other. We hope that you can now keep your birdbath clean and free of contamination after going through this content.