How to Clean a Concrete Birdbath

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Things You'll Need

  • Stiff-bristled scrub brush with a handle

  • Mild soap, such as castille soap or environmentally friendly dish soap

  • White vinegar

  • Wire brush

  • Borax

  • Garden hose

A common recipe for birdbath cleaning is one part bleach to 10 parts water, yet there are effective environmentally friendly alternatives. The right birdbath location and a routine for regular maintenance makes cleaning the easily stained concrete less of a chore. A neglected birdbath can harm birds by spreading disease. Keep three basic household products on hand for bird-safe concrete birdbath care that's also friendlier to the environment.

Step 1

Empty the birdbath once a week and scrub the inside surface with a stiff-bristled brush and mild soap. This keeps the concrete clean if the bath is well-maintained with daily water changes.

Step 2

Pour at least 1 cup of undiluted white vinegar into the birdbath once or twice a month for algae removal if buildup occurs. Add more vinegar if needed to cover the bath's bottom. Clean the concrete with vinegar more often in the summer, if necessary.

Step 3

Scrub the concrete with a wire brush in two or more directions to loosen algae, mildew and soiling. Rinse the birdbath thoroughly with a hose.

Step 4

Mix 1/4 cup of borax in two cups of hot water, stirring with a spoon. Pour the mixture into the birdbath. Borax kills mold and mildew and helps remove stubborn stains. Scrub the mixture into the concrete with a wire brush.

Step 5

Rinse the birdbath at least twice to remove all the residue. Refill it. Limit the water depth to 2 to 3 inches. Birds prefer low water and will avoid a birdbath when the water is too deep.

Tip

Grocery stores and variety stores stock borax with the laundry products.

Move the birdbath into the shade, if possible. A shaded birdbath requires less cleaning and the shaded water stays cooler for the birds, too. Sunlight promotes algae and mold growth. Change the water as often as possible. Daily fresh water is ideal to clear debris and prevent mosquitoes from hatching.

Hard scrubbing is the key to getting the concrete clean. Concrete's porous surface holds onto decayed plant material, soil, algae and mold.

Bleach requires a great deal of rinsing to make the birdbath bird-safe if you use it. Bleach generally removes mildew and algae, although old stains and rust tend to remain in concrete.

Warning

Don't mix borax or other products with bleach, as harmful fumes may result.

Get help moving the concrete birdbath to avoid the risk of injury. If the birdbath comes apart, move the basin and pedestal separately with a hand truck.

Bend your knees when you lift, and lift straight up without twisting your torso to avoid straining your back.

references & resources

Gryphon Adams

Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.