Lori C, the nasty orange color that I get is from my well that I use for irrigation. I use plain old vinegar and a little scrubbing & birdbath looks good again. The iron content of my water causes problems but iron is good for the plants.
Cat + bird bath = death and destruction to the local songbird population.
you might be able to line the bird bath with some plastic sheeting that you could then dispose of now and then.
@KMS Woodworks Not really true. I have had as many as 8 indoor/outdoor cats (I rescue) and they do not catch that many birds, in fact hardly ever. They nap on the deck near the feeders and the birds will sit right in front of their face daring them to try catching them. Sparrow hawks, kids with guns, cars and glass windows get more birds. I see more dead birds along the highways than my yard. I rescued a young turkey vulture that had been shot in his wing and a hawk that was hit by a car.
I just use plain water and a wire brush. I do this about once a week or so. I use a hose with a strong sprayer nozzle to rinse the bird bath after scrubbing it good with the wire brush.
You may want to place a water bowl on the ground near you spicket or hose, away from the birds.
My main problem is with racoons who wash their food and their hands in the birdbath. I give them a bucket of wter and then they leave the birdbath alone.
Normally, the only way I know of to keep ANY birdbath clean, is to scrub it down every day or every other day...
But because you have iron in your water, that makes it a whole nother ball game...so to speak.
Different parts of the country have different levels of iron and/or Manganese.
The first thing you need to find out is what the levels of these 2 metals are...and the best way to get that information, is to speak with the county extension office.
They prolly will not test your water, but they will give you directions on who to go to & what the cost is for testing your water.
Here where I live, the health dept. tests your water, but since I have never had it tested, I have no idea what the cost is.
@Capernius IN MY PART OF MISSOURI, IT IT SNOT IRON, BUT CALCIUM AND SULFER. wE HAVE TO TREAT THE WATER, BECAUSE THE SULFER SMELL IS TOOOO MUCH. I USE FILTERS WATER FROM MY FRIG FOR ALL MY ANIMALS.
Calcium & sulphur can be cleaned away with straight vinegar & a wee bit of scrubbing.
If the build up is bad, spray or pour vinegar directly into the birdbath (after removing the water), let it sit for about 30 minutes, then scrub it away.
If it is REALLY bad, you may have to let the vinegar sit over night or longer to loosen the calcium & sulphur deposits.