How to Clean a Bird Bath Without Scrubbing





Introduction: How to Clean a Bird Bath Without Scrubbing

Fortunately, it can be simple to clean a bird bath without scrubbing if you follow the proper steps. This technique will take 20-30 minutes total, though for much of the time you'll be able to attend to other tasks as the bird bath cleans itself. While the basic technique is suitable for bird baths of any material, it is most effective on concrete bird baths. If your bath is unique and delicate, take precautions to protect it before trying this technique.

Materials you'll need…
Hose with pressure jet setting
Chlorine bleach
Black plastic trash bag
A very dirty bird bath!

Step 1: Dump the Water

The first step in cleaning a very dirty bird bath is to get rid of the contaminated water. This water is often filled with organic material such as feces, algae and dirt, and it is safe to use to water nearby flowers or plants. Dump the water out in an area where it will be recycled to help the rest of your garden, but treat the basin of your bird bath carefully to avoid damage. If the basin of your bath does not detach, simply tip the pedestal to drain the water onto nearby plants or grass.

To safeguard your birds from this dirty water, avoid dumping the basin near bird feeders or spilled seed that ground-feeding birds may sample.

Step 2: Rinse the Basin

Using the pressure setting on your hose nozzle, rinse the bird bath for 10-15 seconds to remove any stuck on debris, feces or loose dirt. For a very dirty bird bath you will not see much change from this rinse, but removing surface material will help the bath be cleaned more thoroughly. If your bird bath has a textured basin, be sure to tilt your hose at different angles to get in every space.

If your bird bath has a delicate surface, avoid the highest pressure setting that may loosen a mosaic or chip a surface finish. Instead, use lower pressure or wipe the surface lightly with a soft sponge.

Step 3: Refill the Basin

Refill the bird bath basin until it is nearly, but not quite, full. It is essential to fill past any obvious dirt or algae lines to ensure that every affected surface will be cleaned, as only areas covered with water will be cleaned. Check that the basin is as level as possible to ensure uniform cleaning. If desired, you can leave the basin on the ground to do this, but it will be just as easy if it is on its pedestal.

Step 4: Add Bleach

Carefully add a generous cupful of bleach to the water, taking care not to spill the bleach onto nearby plants or grass. When adding the bleach, pour it slowly around the entire surface of the basin to mix it thoroughly with the water. If desired, use a stick or twig to mix the bleach with the water.

The amount of bleach you add can vary, but do not add more than 1.5 cups to a basic bird bath. If you have a very shallow bath less bleach will be needed, while more bleach may be necessary for a deeper or excessively dirty bird bath. Basic chlorine bleach is most effective for this step, but if you prefer a green-based similar product, you can adjust this cleaning technique for your preferences.

Step 5: Cover the Basin

Cover the entire bird bath basin with your black plastic trash bag. This will keep the birds away from the bath so they do not drink or bathe in the chemically treated water, and the black color will absorb the sun's heat to heat the water and clean the bath more quickly. Pull the bag thoroughly over the basin and down the pedestal so it will not blow away in a breeze, or if you are cleaning a ground bath, weight the bag down along the edges to keep it in place.

At this point, leave the bird bath to soak for 10-15 minutes. This is a great time to refill or clean birdfeeders, make hummingbird nectar, check a birdhouse or tend to other birdy tasks in the backyard. If necessary, you can leave the bird bath to soak for far longer, but for thorough cleaning a minimum of 10 minutes is recommended. Very dirty bird baths may need longer soaking to be fully clean.

Step 6: Remove Trash Bag

When you remove the trash bag after letting the bleach water soak, your bird bath will look like new. If there are still remains of algae or scum in the basin, replace the trash bag and let it soak longer. Otherwise, discard the trash bag or save it for reuse – the same bag can be used every time you need to clean your bird bath.

It is important not to leave the bird bath untended at this point. The clear water and full basin can quickly attract thirsty birds, but the high chlorine levels in the water can be fatal. Instead, drain the water immediately. Avoid dumping it directly on grass or plants, but feel free to dump it on weeds or in an unused area of your yard. As with your first water dump, avoid draining the chlorine water near bird feeders or spilled seed.

Step 7: Rinse the Basin

After dumping out the bleach water, use the pressure setting on your hose to thoroughly rinse the bird bath. A rinse cycle of at least 1-2 minutes is recommended to dilute any remaining traces of bleach and make the bird bath safe for drinking and bathing. As before, tilt the angle of your hose to ensure you get into every nook, cranny and crease of the basin so every part of the surface is thoroughly rinsed, and take care to protect delicate surfaces.

If you aren't sure when the basin is properly rinsed, stop and sniff the surface of the bath. If it smells strongly of chlorine, more rinsing is necessary. A faint chlorine scent is acceptable, but it should not smell as strongly of chlorine as a pool would.

Step 8: Sun Dry the Bird Bath

Allow your freshly cleaned bird bath to thoroughly dry in the sun. This will further discourage algae growth and keep the bath fresh for a longer period of time, and it will help sterilize the surface against bacteria or other contaminants. On a hot, sunny day, the basin can dry in just a few minutes, and you can use this time to put away your cleaning materials or finish refilling birdfeeders.

If you do not have the time to allow the bath to thoroughly dry, it is acceptable to skip this step.

Step 9: Refill the Bird Bath

Refill your freshly cleaned bird bath with cool, clear water for the birds to enjoy. Properly filled, a bird bath should have a depth no greater than 1-2 inches so birds can easily drink and bathe. If your basin is too deep, consider adding stones to give birds a shallower area to use. You can also attach a dripper, mister or bubbler to attract more birds.

Voila! Your bird bath is clean and safe for the birds, without using any scrub brushes or elbow grease. With the bleach treatment, the bath will remain clean for several days, and you can keep it clean even longer by draining, pressure rinsing and refilling the bath daily before it will need another thorough cleaning.

Step 10: Sources

This information was taken from
This was not my plan but i used it and it worked create. Reposted on Instructables to help others out! Take care.



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    JEEZ! Calm down everybody, he's just trying to help people get an important job done an easier way. He didn't steal anyone's idea or try to erode your birdbath or even kill your birds. Thank you wonkabrains, I have to clean my own bird bath this weekend and I have limited physical abilities. I would have never found the source you got this from so thank you. You have helped me a great deal.

    Please visit the original article for this Instructable - the author here has stolen both the photos and text from another site. This is an unfortunate copyright violation and should be removed please.

    3 replies

    Thank you! Could you please put a link in the first step as well? Many people will not get all the way to the end. I'm glad it worked well for you!

    I added the source. Just reposted the tutorial to help others out. Works great by the way! If you would like it removed I can do that.

    I tried a green bleach and it didn't touch the algae, so I will use this bleach method next.

    I WILL have to do this !!

    One way to keep your water from getting algae as quickly is to put some lavender in it.

    No, chlor is poisen to concret !. Bidges are damed in winter by salt. Only ceramics in toilets are resistant to oxidating chlorine.
    But the idea is lovely. I would paint the bird feeder inside with ship paint to make it easyer to clean.

    5 replies

    Bridges are to do with the rebar, the steel tends to get attacked by salts and rust, then the concrete cracks off the outside.

    There wouldn't be rebar in a bird bath.

    It's highly unlikely that bleach would affect concrete here in any significant way.

    Hi wolfkeeper , my dictionary has no "rebar" , what is that. To concrete and chlor. As it is know there a connection Ca + Cl , CaCl2 , and this salt adds 10 H2O !! with ascending volume, so that water diffundes to the steel , witch Fe reacts to rust with ascending volume.
    It would be more comfortable to use a liquid depending on H2O2, and not Cl. That is what I mention. (excuse if I used unspelling words, I believe these "terminus technicus" are understandable all over the world, to those who are willing )unryhme

    The steel (rebar) is in bridges to give tensile strength, but bird baths don't need tensile strength, so in most cases won't have any steel in the concrete; as rebar makes the bird bath a lot more expensive and doesn't add much strength.

    If there's no steel rebar then you should be able to use bleach safely.

    Thanks! I like the idea with the ship paint. I might just try that!

    I think it is the better way to "smooth" the surface, with a coating, for pools ore boats. And , as I know, Cl +1 is a reason to get cancer. It is not a joke to work with it. As I am chemist I am cautious. Excuse my orthographics, It is not a language seminar her. But the "corrector" is much better as in the first time. ( I tuck my english nearly 60 years ago. But thats internet and globalisation, Now all the world has to change to internationalism. :-)

    The algae that builds up over time can contaminate the water so it is healthier for the birds if the bird bath is clean.

    algae may look unsightly but it's not dangerous unless the water is stagnant. My wife always wants me to add chlorine to the pond in the front yard because there is some algae and the water isn't crystal clear but that would harm the mini eco system of plants, frogs, a turtle and several fish that is thriving . If the algae gets to long and thick I pull it out and toss in the garden, planters or compost. That being said, this is a very nicely done instructable, I especially like the safety tip of covering the birdbath while its soaking, although birds (and alligators) can drink from a chlorinated pool the concentration your using could definitely cause harm

    in reference to using a high pressure washer on stone bird baths:

    I guess I learned something new....I did not know that it could damage a stone bird bath....TY for educating me on that. 8)

    one more thing to note:
    bleach has a "slimy" feel to it....if it feels slimy then it needs more rinsing....

    on a concrete bird bath a high pressure wash makes the cleaning/rinsing go faster without hurting the birdbath.

    Good Ible, well written, very informative & best of all, very accurate. 8)

    TY for sharing. 8)