After a long summer of use, a bird bath can be getting pretty grimy this time of the year. It is easy to clean a cement bird bath to make it a safe and fun place for birds to enjoy. All you need are a few common supplies and minutes of your time.
I admit it. I am not the best housekeeper in the world. I’d rather spend time in my garden. But even normal gardening chores have piled up on me this summer.
My only child made a move across the country and there have been so many things to do to get her ready for the move. The extra time gives me a chance to take care of things that I have neglected, like this dirty bird bath.
How to Clean a Cement Bird Bath to Encourage the Birds in your Garden.
Now that she has gone, I have to get my “nest” back in order. And cleaning out my bird is at the top of my list. The poor birds have abandoned me because I let it get so dirty.
The above scene is lovely but a close up shows just how disgusting the bird bath had gotten over the last month or so since I cleaned it out.
Allowing a bird bath to become very dirty makes it a breeding ground for mosquitoes and discourages birds from using it.
It is important to remove the debris in the bird bath. The water contains an accumulation of all sorts of bacteria and debris, including bird feces.
To remove the water, I just tipped it slightly on its side and let the water run into the surrounding garden. This close up shows just what needs to be removed.
The next step is to use the hose to remove what you can. I used the highest pressure setting on my hose and then scrubbed the bird bath with a scrubbing brush.
Surprisingly, I got a great deal of the dirt out just doing this! It looks reasonably clean but you can still see some residue that the brush did not get.
To get it cleaner you will need these items: A black trash bag and some liquid bleach.
The next step to clean a cement bird bath is very important. Refill your bird bath. Bleach is highly toxic and needs to be diluted. I used about 3/4 cup to a gallon of water. Fill the bath up above any stain marks and add the bleach.
At this point, the bath will need to be left for about 15-20 minutes. (longer if it is very dirty.) Cover the whole bird bath with a black plastic bag and leave it to sit.
This black bag step is necessary because the water in the bath will be attractive to birds now that it is clean and you don’t want them to be drinking the diluted solution.
When you remove the plastic bag, your bird bath should look like new. If it still has algae or scum in it, just replace the bag for a bit longer. You can save the plastic bag to use again the next time you need to clean your bird bath.
Get the bird bath ready for the birds
Drain out the water. I used old sponges to sop it up and put into a pail to discard. I did not want the chlorine bleach to get onto the nearby plants. Once you have removed the chlorinated water, be sure to rinse the bath thoroughly.
Once again, I used the pressure setting and let the water run into it for about 2 minutes. Tilt the bath and be sure to get every part of the bird bath rinsed.
You will have a good idea if you have rinsed enough by smelling the bath. If you can smell chlorine, keep rinsing.
It is a good idea to let the bird bath dry in the sun for a while before putting in fresh water. This will help to sterilize the surface of the bird bath against bacteria.
The basin will dry in just a few minutes on a hot sunny day. This step is not crucial but is a good idea.
Now refill with clean fresh water and your bird bath is clean and safe for your birds to enjoy. The bath will remain clean for several days and you can help to keep it clean longer by pressure rinsing and refilling the bath daily.
With proper care, you will only need to occasionally use the bleach method. Hopefully, mine will not get to the awful state shown above for a long time to come!
Much better than the picture above, don’t you think?
Tips for keeping a bird bath clean
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There are a few things that you can do to ensure that the bird bath doesn’t get so dirty in future.
- Position your bird bath so that it is not under bird feeders or woody trees which will allow debris and seeds to get into the water. You can position it near a feeder but not under it.
- Place your bird bath in a sunny position. Sunlight kills bacteria spores more quickly than shade does.
- Change the water daily to prevent build up of algae.
- Bird baths with a fountain pump as part of the design keeps the water moving which helps with cleanliness. This a discourages mosquitoes.
- A heater in your birdbath in the colder months will help to keep it cleaner.
- Biodegradable balls (available at hardware stores) are designed to keep algae out of ponds. These can also help to keep birdbaths clean if it has a large bowl area.
- Bird bath enzymes work well in small areas like a bird bath to keep them clean.
There are lots of other ways to clean a cement bird bath. I also tested alka seltzer and copper pipes recently. See my test results on this method here.
If you don’t like the idea of using bleach, white vinegar and water does a pretty good job of cleaning a bird bath, but it does now kill the pathogens.
How do you keep your bird bath clean? Please leave your suggestions below.
Would you like a reminder of these tips for how to clean a cement bird bath? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest,Admin note: this post for tips to clean a cement bird bath first appeared on my blog in August of 2013. I have updated it to include some new photos and tips for keeping the bird bath clean.
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