Apple Cider Vinegar In Bird Baths [Naturally Combat Algae]

Combat Algae Using Bird-Safe Apple Cider Vineger

After creating your backyard bird oasis, it can be frustrating that your bird bath seems to constantly be green with algae.

The easiest solution for this is to incorporate the 4 suggestions listed below that will remove the algae’s ability to grow in your bath in the first place.

Below I’ll go over the proper way to use apple cider vinegar in bird baths and other tips to keep your bird bath fresh.

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tufted titmouse perched on the edge of a clean bird bath.

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good For Preventing Algae In Bird Baths?

Yes, dilute apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a great choice for combatting algae in your bird bath the natural way. The higher pH value of the ACV makes it too acidic for algae to grow.

The typically suggested ratio is 1 tsp ACV per gallon of water.

How To Keep Algae Out Of A Bird Bath

Algae can be a real nuisance. If not taken care of, the growth of algae will keep birds away and can even make them sick.

Some of the best ways to stop algae growth is through preventative measures. Here are a few methods for keeping algae out of a bird bath.

1. Place Bird Bath In Shade

Sun feeds the growth of algae. Algae survives on photosynthesis so if you cut down on it’s food source, you’ll have less growth.

Placing your bird bath in the shade will also keep the water cooler and minimize the water evaporation.

2. Change Water Often

Algae is caused my spores from nearby shrubbery and surroundings. By changing out the water ever 2-4 days and replacing it with fresh water, you’ll remove the source of age spores from the bath.

This will also keep the water cooler and the bacteria count lower. Birds hate a dirty water source so having fresh water will attract more to the bath as well.

More importantly, frequent water changes will get rid of mosquito larvae that may harbor West Nile Virus, which is dangerous for both birds and humans.

3. Add Apple Cider Vinegar

Adding 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar per gallon of water will help prevent algae from growing in your bird bath. It makes the water slightly acidic which kills the algae.

It’s important to dilute the apple cider vinegar so that it isn’t too strong. A concentrated solution could potentially hurt the birds by being acidic.

Another benefit of adding apple cider vinegar to your bird bath is that it will also kill off bacteria growing in the water.

4. Incorporate Running Water

Moving water cuts down on the growth of algae. If you constantly have bad algae growth, then adding an aerator, dripper, mister, or solar-powered fountain are good options.

What Is Apple Cider Vinegar With The Mother?

Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples. The yeast turns the sugars into alcohol. Bacteria are added to the alcohol to turn it into acetic acid, the main component of vinegar.

An apple cider vinegar that says “with the mother” is an organic, unfiltered version. It contains the proteins, enzymes, and bacteria that give the vinegar it’s murky color.

Both versions will work for keeping your bird bath free from algae. The type with the mother is often consumed by people for its health benefits but there aren’t any studies on the effectiveness in birds’ health.

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Harmful To Birds?

Apple cider vinegar is typically between 5-6% acetic acid. If left as is, this is extremely acidic for birds and unsafe. But for combating algae growth naturally, all that’s needed is 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar per gallon of water.

At this dilute concentration, you aren’t likely to even notice a smell or flavor to the water. The key to making apple cider vinegar safe for birds is to dilute it properly to significantly lessen the acidity.

Do Birds Like Apple Cider Vinegar?

Yes, many birds don’t mind apple cider vinegar. Birds have around 400 tastebuds while we humans have around 9,000.

While they can taste bitter and sour flavors, the intensity of taste will be lessened. Combined with the extremely diluted formula you’re using in your bird bath, birds are unlikely to even notice that the water has a different taste.

Can You Use Vinegar To Clean A Bird Bath?

Yes, you can. Typically, white vinegar is better suited for cleaning since it’s less expensive than apple cider vinegar.

To clean a bird bath using vinegar, dump and rinse the bath, then use 9 parts water to 1 part vinegar, and scrub. Make sure you rise the bath well before filling.

Using vinegar to clean your bird bath is a natural non-toxic method that doesn’t use harsh detergents that could strip the birds’ feathers or make them sick.


Apple cider vinegar is generally considered safe to use in bird baths as long as it’s properly diluted to lessen the acidity. It’s one of the best non-toxic bird bath cleaners and additives that don’t use harsh detergents.

If you’re having trouble with algae in your bird bath, use the steps above to cut off the growth factors for algae. Without algae or mosquito larvae, your bath’s fresh water is more likely to attract the neighborhood birds to your yard.

If you need help picking out a bird bath, check out the ultimate bird bath guide that walks you through everything you should consider before buying.

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Rose Churchill headshot with cockatiel on her shoulder
Stephanie Rose

Avian Biologist & Bird Nerd

Head bird nerd at Spark Lark, Rose has been birdwatching for over 15 years. After working with rehabilitated wild birds as an avian biologist, she found a love of birds that has continued on. Now, she is raising her son to be an outdoor nature-loving child. Here, she shares her knowledge of attracting birds to your yard and tips for getting kids obsessed with birds.

1 thought on “Apple Cider Vinegar In Bird Baths [Naturally Combat Algae]”

  1. blank

    Huh! I never heard of this nifty trick for keeping algae out of bird baths. Yet another cool use for apple cider vinegar. Thanks for sharing!

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