If you have an outdoor garden fountain, you have probably realized that keeping it clean can be a real issue. Here are four easy cleaning solutions using items most people have lying around the house.
1. Scrubbing Pad
If your outdoor fountain happens to be slate, cleaning it will be as simple as draining it and scrubbing it with a soap pad like you would use on metal pots and pans. This will loosen dirt, algae, and hard water buildup and leave your fountain sparkling clean. Be sure to rinse away any soap residue when you are finished scrubbing or it could end up creating foam in the water when your fountain is refilled.
2. Pressure Washer
One of the easiest ways to clean your water fountain isn't a cleaning solution at all but a cleaning device. Rent or use your own pressure washer with a fan tip to strip away stains, mildew, mold, and hard water. Remove the pump as well and give it a cleaning in a bucket of warm water with a tiny bit of dish soap. Fill your fountain again and you'll be all set for another year of summer gardening.
3. White Vinegar and Water
If you don't have access to a pressure washer then try a white vinegar and water cleaner. Empty the fountain and remove the pump and drain it. Mix one half cup of white vinegar to one gallon of warm water. Then, using a nylon scrubber, scrub down the entire fountain. If you have stubborn stains or hard water buildup you may need to use pure vinegar and a bit of elbow grease. Rinse well with clean water, fill, and you are finished.
4. Bleach and Water
Another good cleaning solution for an outdoor fountain is two tablespoons of bleach in a gallon of water. Use this like you would with the vinegar solution above. Again, if you have resistant spots, use it full strength if you need to. Be sure to rinse very thoroughly after you’ve finished, as bleach and chlorine can be harmful to pets and wildlife that may drink from the fountain. Clean the pump with the same solution and rinse thoroughly. Refill and you're finished.
Other Helpful Hints
If at all possible, don't allow your fountain to become dirty to the point of needing these cleaning solutions. Keep leaves, flower petals, bird feathers, and twigs out of the water as best you can. Dump and refill the fountain every day or at least every other day to keep the water fresh. If you aren’t using chemical additives in the water, you can even recycle when it comes time to drain the fountain by using the old water on plants in your garden.
Keep the fountain full enough that the pump is totally submerged so it will work properly and keep the water flowing. In winter, drain the water, take the pump indoors, and cover the fountain to prevent moisture from collecting and freezing and thawing. This can make the bowl crack if it’s made from concrete or limestone.
If mosquitoes are a problem in your area, you can buy a small tablet called a mosquito dunk to put in your water fountain that will kill mosquito larvae and keep it from hatching. These dunks are harmless to birds but be sure your pets can't get to them and eat them or drink the water. Keeping your fountain clean will also help to prevent mosquito infestation. Mosquitoes hatching in backyard fountains can create a huge population in a short amount of time and ruin your summer fun, so follow these tips and enjoy your garden all season.