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How to clean and maintain your outdoor water feature

by N. Miller September 10, 2016 3 min read

How to clean and maintain your Outdoor Fountain

How to clean and maintain your outdoor water feature

Outdoor water fountains are a beautiful addition to any garden, but they do require regular care. For best results, outdoor fountains should be cleaned once a week. Less frequent cleaning can result in dirt and grime build-up that becomes harder to clean and can affect the appearance and functionality of your fountain.

Outdoor water fountain

Cleaning Equipment Checklist for Outdoor Water Features

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Distilled water
  • Shop-vac
  • Soft sponge
  • Mild liquid soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Soft rag or cloth
  • Calcium lime removal product (optional)
  • Distilled white vinegar (optional)

10 Easy steps to Maintain your Outdoor water feature:

  1. Turn off your water fountainand unplug it from its power source before you start cleaning. For larger fountains, this may require switching off power at the breaker box. This is a very important step. Failure to do this could result in burns or deadly injury.

  2. Remove all items from the basin of your water fountain, such as stones and other decorative items. These can be cleaned separately to ensure there is no algae growth.
  3. Remove the pump from your water fountain. This will give you full access to the pump while cleaning and allow you to remove any leaves and other debris from the intake valve and housing. Rinse the pump with a garden hose.

Wipe the pump with a damp cloth, and use a toothbrush to scrub hard-to-reach places. Flush the pump and hose lines if they appear to be clogged. At the same time, check for algae or other damaging substances that could shorten the life of the pump.

  1. Empty the water out of the fountain. This includes the basin, pump and lines. Large water fountains may require a sump pump to clear quickly.
  2. Be sure you are not using any potentially harmful chemicals to clean your water fountain. Water fountains come in a wide variety of materials, including ceramic, copper and stainless steel. So, it’s a good idea to consult your owner’s manual for recommendations on safe cleaning aids. In most cases, mild liquid soap can be used without worry of damaging your unit.
  3. Scrub any algae completely off your fountain. Be sure to focus on water inlets and tier basins. If your fountain receives a lot of direct sunlight, you may want to add a water algaecide that’s safe for kids, pets and wildlife.

Real Stone column outdoor fountain

  1. Once you have thoroughly cleaned and wiped down your water fountain, fill it with distilled water and dry it completely before reinstalling your pump and turning on the power. Distilled water may not be practical for large outdoor fountains. If so, try a fountain protector such as Fountain Cleanser or Bird Bath Cleanser which are safe for wildlife.  If your water feature includes other materials such as steel or copper, you may want to invest in metal polish to get these decorative touches looking like new.
  2. Rinse your water fountain to remove any cleaning solutions or soap.Soap can be harmful to the pump, causing it to work harder and eventually burn out.
  3. Water Pump Maintenance: When the water level drops too low, the pump must work extra hard, causing excessive wear and tear. For that reason, outdoor fountains should be refilled or topped off at least twice a week due to evaporation.
  4. Winterizing:In climates where the temperature drops below freezing, it’s a good idea to winterize your outdoor water feature. Turn off the fountain, drain all water and either cover the fountain with a tarp or waterproof cover or take the fountain and pump inside if they are small and light enough.


Outdoor fountains can last decades with the right care and maintenance. Follow these easy steps to maintain your outdoor fountain and enjoy it for years to come.  

  • Setup a regular cleaning schedule
  • Maintain the right water level
  • Water Pump Maintenance
  • Use the right cleaning solutions
  • Winterize the outdoor fountain


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