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How to Clean and
Maintain Your Outdoor Fountain

July 3, 2022

Whether it’s the relaxing sound of flowing water or the beauty of the sculpture, outdoor water fountains create a magical ambiance for outdoor spaces. But if you don’t know how to clean a fountain and maintain it, your water fountain can become an eyesore. There’s nothing magical about mineral deposits, algae, rust stains, or a poorly maintained fountain that clogs and stops working.

Don’t be intimidated—learning how to clean a fountain is easier than you think.

How to Clean a Water Fountain

Start by turning off your water fountain and clearing out all the water (use a Shop-Vac, it’s easiest). This is an excellent time to take out the water pump and hoses, as well as all the stones and figurines for them to be cleaned separately. If you can disconnect your hoses easily, let them soak in a distilled white vinegar and water solution while you clean the rest of the fountain.

Depending on the construction material of your water fountain, learning how to clean a water fountain may mean using specific cleaners to avoid staining or damage. Soap and water will work for most ceramic, cast stone, wood, and fiberglass or resin water fountains.

Use stainless steel cleaner for stainless and furniture polish for copper fountains. A granite water fountain may be the easiest to clean and maintain because you can use stronger cleaning solutions such as muriatic acid.

Dirt and bird droppings are usually easy to wash off most fountains and outdoor furniture, but removing algae, mineral deposits, and rust require more firepower.

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How to Clean a Fountain Covered With Algae

The combination of debris, heat, and sunlight creates an ideal environment for algae to grow. Cleaning an outdoor water fountain covered with algae may take some muscle, but it won’t take harsh chemical cleaners. All you need to remove algae from your fountain is white vinegar. Soak the algae with vinegar, let it sit for five minutes, then scrub it away.

How to Clean a Fountain That Has Hard Water Stains

Hard water, i.e., water with high levels of iron, calcium, lime, and other minerals can stain and damage outdoor water fountains. For most fountains, you can use a mild cleaner or CLR (Calcium Lime Remover). **DO NOT USE Copper Cleaners or CLR on copper fountains, as they are too harsh and may cause the fountain to age faster.

Regardless of the construction material, learning how to clean an outdoor fountain involves the same basic steps. Use a hose, nylon-bristled scrub brush, and the recommended outdoor fountain cleaner. Hose down the fountain and scrub away unsightly dirt and stains, then rinse and repeat if needed.

Outdoor Fountain Maintenance Tips

Learning how to clean a water fountain will help keep it looking and working its best, but there are a few things you can do to make cleaning a fountain easier:

  • Use distilled water.

Distilled water doesn’t contain the minerals that cause staining and serve as a food supply for algae.

  • Keep the motor running. 

To protect further against algae growth, keep your fountain running all season and keep the fountain out of direct sunlight.

  • Skim the surface.

Remove debris, pollen, and other contaminants from the water as needed and clean the fountain monthly while it’s operating.

  • Maintain the proper water level.

Maintain the water level to keep your fountain pump submerged so it can work efficiently and help keep the fountain clean.

  • Keep your fountain pump healthy.

Remove the pump every time you clean the fountain and clean it in the sink. Remove the back panel and use an old toothbrush and your sink sprayer to clean the propeller. Put the cover back on the pump and put it back in your fountain.

To protect your outdoor water fountain through the seasons, consider investing in a custom cover or at least a weather-resistant tarp. Covering your fountain when it’s not in use or when a storm approaches can prevent damage and keep out debris.

Knowing how to clean a fountain correctly and perform outdoor fountain maintenance will help keep your outdoor space magical for years to come. Now that your water fountain is looking good, what’s next? No matter what you’re cleaning around your home, our field-tested housekeeping guides can help make the job more manageable.

Whether we do the house cleaning or you do it—The Maids® is on a mission to create cleaner homes and make housework easier. Find out about our affordable residential services when you get your free online estimate today.

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