Add it to the fresh birdbath water at each change-out! Ta da! Yes, friends, distilled white vinegar allows me to keep two birdbaths in our urban backyard with ease. It virtually keeps the stank away. (You know I couldn’t resist the infomercial approach! Lol) It also makes the disgusting task of changing out the water, well ... less disgusting. Of course, white vinegar is organic, safe for the environment, and it’s harmless for birds, which don’t taste it (or so I’ve read), and other wildlife. It’s a win/win. I have return customers during the warm season, so it’s tried and true. So, going by the size of my particular birdbaths, which take a full watering can, and the volume of my watering can, the ratio is approximately 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar to approximately 1-1.25 gallons of fresh water. The result? Pleasant and clean birdbaths, on a regular basis. Keep in mind that by no means have I taken a remotely scientific approach to these measurements because, well, that's just too much labor, for the ol’ noggin, that I don’t get paid to do, but the measurements referenced here are noted for just that ... reference only. My “experiments” go as far as “tried and true,” in all reality, and I’m a tree-hugger, so I would never try something caustic or something I haven’t researched (or in this case, stumbled across on the Web) first.
The vinegar breaks down the waste produced by the feathered friends using the birdbath. This solution ratio is strong enough to keep the water surprisingly clear and pleasant for human beings nearby, without the need to refresh/change out the water on a daily basis. In our particular case, one of my baths is about 10 feet from the edge of our patio due to our small city lot. Therefore, our patio seating is closer to a birdbath than most people would prefer, but it has been tested by yours truly, and by our children with their keen(er) sense of smell, and it has passed with flying colors. No need to buy that very expensive 4-oz. bottle of solution for your birdbath. Hey, more money for plants!
Water changes are a breeze. The broken down waste in the water is dumped right out of the bowl, and with a quick rinse from the hose nozzle, you're ready for a fresh refill. When time doesn't allow you to refresh the water daily, the baths are still virtually odor-free and still that easy to clean even three days out. Go beyond three days, and you will wind up with a water ring and several spots of dried waste on the bowl edge, due to evaporation. No worries, though. Full-strength vinegar and a stiff brush will take care of that (as explained below).
Once a month, I do give the bath bowls a thorough cleaning using full-strength vinegar with a natural, stiff brush and then rinse with the hose nozzle. The only time that you actually need to use some (light) elbow grease is when there is dried waste or a water ring to clean, but it’s not difficult to remove at all. In particularly stubborn cases, I’ve found it helpful to use hot vinegar, especially for glass baths.
In conclusion, my gardening friends, yes, it actually is possible to have a bird bath in your own yard or garden, with very little time and effort in keeping it clean, thanks to distilled white vinegar. So, take a trip to your fave nursery or hardscape retailer and pick up the birdbath of your fancy. Then relax and take leisure in your yard and garden, and delight in watching our feathered friends and other wildlife refresh themselves without the worry of stinky, disgusting birdbaths. And if you ask the kiddos to clean it, they won’t complain ... too much. Lol 😊😊
Happy gardening and bird watching!
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