Bird Bath and Feeder Hygiene 101

Spring cleaning isn’t just for your home. Your local birds need a clean place to bathe and eat too. It’s not just a matter of preference: the health of your fine-feathered friends depends on good bird bath hygiene. Here is your guide to keeping bird baths and feeders safe and tidy.


Do I Need to Clean My Bird Bath and Feeder?

Yep! When you invest in bird baths and feeders to attract beautiful birdies to your yard, you also commit to keeping wildlife safe and clean. Not only will clean bird baths and feeders look nice, but they will also keep your birds healthy. Regularly putting out food and fresh water for birds creates a sort of working relationship.

You provide the goods, and they dazzle you with their plumage and songs. Birds will continue to be attracted to your yard and grow reliant on you. Keeping the bird baths and feeders clean is essential to their health and well-being.

american goldfinch on bird feeder summerwinds california

What Will Happen if I Don’t Keep Bird Baths and Feeders Clean?

The birds will know about your crimes and dive bomb you at every opportunity! Okay, maybe not, but even worse than that, you can get your birds sick! Stagnant water in bird baths can carry pests and disease. Disease can spread rapidly among bird populations, especially if they access the same food and water source.


ornate concrete birdbath summerwinds california

What’s the Best Way to Clean Bird Baths and Bird Feeders?

The best cleaning method can depend on the type of bath or feeder and what you are trying to clean or prevent. Feathers, algae, droppings, and organic materials can contaminate both birdbaths and bird feeders. How frequently you need to clean them will depend on how many birds are making pit stops in your yard, so keep a close eye and create a cleaning schedule based on how big your backyard flock gets.

Cleaning Concrete or Stone Bird Baths

There are many ways to clean a concrete or stone bird bath, and you likely have most of the supplies you will need in your home already. You can use hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, or distilled vinegar to clean out your concrete bird baths. No matter which substance you use, always start by dumping out the old water and gathering some basic supplies like gloves, a bucket or bowl, a designated scrub brush, and your cleaning product.

Distilled Vinegar: Mix nine parts water with one part vinegar. Fill the bird bath with the mixture and use a scrub brush to get rid of debris inside and outside the basin.

Hydrogen Peroxide: Mix one part hydrogen peroxide to one part water. Just like the vinegar method, soak the basin with hydrogen peroxide mixture, scrub thoroughly, and rinse thoroughly afterward.

Baking Soda: Sprinkle soda over the bird bath, scrub well, hose down thoroughly, fill the basin, dump, and fill again to ensure no baking soda remnants are left behind.

murky bird bath with stagnant water summerwinds california

Preventing bird bath Algae With Copper Pennies? For Real?

Algae is a big problem in bird baths because it’s highly toxic to birds. While it may seem strange, copper is “biostatic,” which means that organic material will not grow on it, namely, algae. Some bird baths have a copper basin, but any bits of copper in the water can help. You don’t need to go overboard; throw some copper pennies into the water basin like your very own wishing well. Every time you clean out your bird bath, you can wash the copper pennies too.

american goldfinch bird at tube feeder summerwinds california

Methods for Cleaning Bird Feeders

There are so many different kinds of bird feeders you can feature in your yard, but not all feeders are created equal. When it comes to selection, try to find a bird feeder that will not let seeds get wet and soggy, which can be messy and a breeding ground for mold, bacteria, and everything nasty.

Tube Feeders: Tube feeders are quite easy to care for and keep clean. A brush and warm water will do the trick for cleanings, but if you see any signs of mold or anything sinister, you can wash with bleach as well. Always wash thoroughly after using bleach or other harsh chemicals.

Wooden Feeders: While wooden bird feeders are classic and adorable, they are also more challenging to clean. Wood is porous and will absorb debris and oils, for better or for worse. If you can’t replace your wooden feeder, be sure to clean regularly with warm water and bleach.

robins in natural bird bath summerwinds california

Bonus Cleaning Tips

It's not all copper pennies and hydrogen peroxide! Here's a few more bonus tips to get those bird feeders and bird baths in tip top shape for your feathered friends:

  • Be sure to clean the area around and below your bird feeders; those areas are also a hub for bacteria, mold, and disease.
  • Regularly sweep up and dispose of old seeds, hulls, and feathers. When cleaning your bird baths and bird feeders, make sure you let them soak in their cleaning solutions to really loosen up and get rid of any debris.
  • Make sure bird baths and feeders are thoroughly rinsed out to reduce any chemical remnants.
  • Finally, make sure your bird feeder is completely dry before filling it with food to prevent mushy birdseed!

If you’re looking for more tips on bird bath hygiene in California, come visit us! We’ll help you pick out the right feeders, baths, and supplies you need to attract and keep birds coming back to serenade you again and again.


About SummerWinds Nursery: SummerWinds Garden Centers is a leading high-end retailer of garden and nursery products. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, SummerWinds operates retail nurseries in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, and in Silicon Valley, California, making it one of the largest independent retail nursery companies in the west. SummerWinds appeals to both the serious and casual gardeners, with a broad selection of premium gardening products and a friendly and knowledgeable staff.