If you want the birds to keep coming to your yard, and not hightail it to the neighbor’s, it’s in your best interest to keep that bird bath clean.
Assemble your Materials
Obviously, you will need one or more dirty bird baths. You’ll also need a garden hose or other source of clean water, a bottle of bleach, a bucket or large mixing bowl and a scrub brush. You can use any type of scrub or kitchen brush. The size you will need depends on how large your bird bath is, or if it has intricate details you will have to clean with a smaller brush head.
Cleaning the Bird Bath
1. Empty the bird bath
First of all, make sure all of the birds have made themselves scarce. Then, either tip the bird bath on its side or pull the plug out of it if it has one to remove all of the old water. Once that’s done, pick out any large pieces of debris that may remain inside it.
2. Hose the bird bath down
Using your garden hose, or a bucket of water if you don’t have a hose available, give the bird bath a good rinse with lukewarm water. If you have a sprayer nozzle on your hose, put it on its most powerful setting. Hopefully, this will get most of the gunk off of the bottom of the tub. Use the scrub brush to remove any dirt or debris that you can’t get out of the tub by just using the water. You can also use the brush to clean the pedestal of your bird bath if you wish.
3. Mix a bleach solution to kill algae or mildew
Note that this says a bleach solution, not pure bleach. You want to be sure to heavily dilute the bleach, since any bleach residue could be harmful to future bird bathers. Birds tend to be very sensitive to chemicals. Use a measuring cup to make sure you get the ratio right.
You will only need three fourths of a cup of bleach for each gallon of water that you use. Mix the solution in the bucket or bowl using your hands or a spoon. To prevent skin irritation, you may want to wear rubber gloves when handling bleach, and be careful not to splash it on your clothing.
If you’re uncomfortable using bleach and your bird bath doesn’t have any algae or mildew in it, you are more than welcome to skip this step.
4. Let the bleach solution set
Pour the bleach solution into the bird bath so that the entire surface of the tub is covered. Be especially sure to cover any areas of mildew growth or algae. Then let the solution set for 10 to 15 minutes.
*It’s crucial that you cover the bird bath during this step so that no birds attempt to sit in it. Use plastic, foil or wood, or keep a very diligent watch.
5. Give your bird bath a good rinse
Make sure to do a dynamite job of rinsing your bird bath with water so that you get all of the bleach solution out of it. Again, use the jet sprayer on the hose or use a clean bucket filled with water and your scrub brush. If you’re using the bucket method, you will want to fill and pour out the bird bath a couple times.
6. Let the bird bath dry
To be certain you’ve gotten all of the bleach out, let your bird bath sit out in the yard empty to dry. Depending on the weather, it may take an hour or more.
7. Refill the bath
That’s it. Now just refill your newly clean bird bath with water. And, if you want, you can throw a couple pennies in it to prevent algae in the future.
Keeping your Bird Bath Clean
The best way to keep your bird bath clean, and to keep the birdie tenants happy, is to change the water on a regular basis (say, at least once every two weeks). You can also add a commercial bird bath cleaner, available at most home improvement stores. This should minimize the need for bleaching and scrubbing in the future.
Also, try to place your bird bath in an open area of the yard so it doesn’t get clogged with leaves and branches, unless you don’t mind pulling them out daily.