Keep your Bird Baths Clean to Encourage the Birds in your Garden.
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.
Now that she has gone, I have to get my “nest” back in order. And cleaning out my bird bath 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.
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 it 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 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 step is necessary because the water in the bath will be attractive to birds 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 is still algae or scum, 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.
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?
There are lots of other ways to clean a bird bath. I also tested alka seltzer and copper pipes recently. See my test results on this method here.
How do you keep your bird bath clean? Please leave your suggestions below.