The struggle is real: Tip for cleaning algae out of pet’s water bowl

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A lot of pet owners seem to struggle with keeping algae (either green or red) out of their pet’s water bowl.

We have this problem with our dogs and cats, but the chickens’ water is harder because, even though we have a hose back where they are, we don’t like to use any soap products on or around them. We also honestly don’t get to clean it as much as we do the dog and cat bowl. Sorry chickens! But it’s not easy to get to the trough and it’s harder now that we usually don’t get home from work till after dark when it’s too late to clean so we can only get it on the weekends (we do change their water every day though).

Anyway, although we haven’t come across anything that gets rid of it all together, we have found a couple of ways to help with getting rid of algae quicker.

Tip 1: Scrub brushes that help you get that algae at all angles will help keep the algae growth down because any missed algae will start to multiply again very quickly.

We have been using a regular size toilet brush to clean out the water trough for our horse. It works well for scrubbing the algae out, is easy to clean, and is easy to hang up and find quickly at the barn. (We want to stress that the toilet brush was bought new and has NEVER been used in the toilet — only the water trough.)

small scrubber
scrubbing device

We bought a miniature scrub brush. It’s a dandy little device we got for $1 at Ollie’s. It works really well for getting the inside of their water container (which is made out of a thick plastic, although we have also found that, in general, metal bowls tend to grow algae less quickly).

There is even a little “scraper” on the back at the top, as you can see from the first photo. When we finish, we usually bring the scrubber inside and clean it with soap so it’s ready to go for next time. Sometimes, though, we rinse it outside with some vinegar and then some water if we have just done a light scrubbing.

We definitely recommend the scrub brush since it does a great job of getting the algae on the edges and sides and bottom of the trough, and the more algae we can get rid of, the less we have to deal with growing back rapidly.

Tip #2: Baking soda.

We love using baking soda to help with the scrubbing because it really works well for removing the algae.

green algae build up
This was the water trough for the chickens after a week of not being cleaned (although the water was changed daily). We used the small box of baking soda you can see next to it to clean it out.

When we are done cleaning out the chicken’s water trough, we then fill it with clean water and mix in a tiny bit (about a teaspoonful of baking soda) to help keep the water clean. We have noticed a big difference in how much longer the bowl stays clean and the water looks fresh, and it is not harmful to the chickens.

water trough after being cleaned
This is the water trough after we cleaned it with our brush, some paper towels, water and the small box of baking soda.

Tip #3: Tinfoil

Another good way to scrape algae out of a water bowl is to use tinfoil that is squished up into a ball. It’s quick and easy to use if you run out of or can’t find your other cleaning supplies. You can even re-use it and it works a lot like a steel sponge.


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