Asked on Jun 22, 2017

I have an old and rusty iron bird bath, how to fix for birds' safety?

Marty Olson
by Marty Olson
I want to repaint it, after taking off the rust, but I want a safe way for the birds to use it and not get sick from any chemicals. Help?!?

  5 answers
  • BillieandRob Linhart BillieandRob Linhart on Jun 22, 2017

    Clean the birdbath very thorough, scuff sand, then use a water based paint, please allow to dry before you put water back into it, also if it's a metal bird bath you should use like krylon, or a rust inhibitor like rustoleum to paint it and there again sand it rinse it out and clean thorough before putting it back out into the yard.

  • Scrub with a copper or grill type brush, clean with a high setting pressure washer (or, less a effective garden hose) and then follow the instructions on a can of Rustoleum spray paint. It'll inhibit the growth of new rust and prevent the old from leaching through.

    Good luck 😉 and post your before and after!

  • Dianacirce70 Dianacirce70 on Jun 22, 2017

    a wire brush will get the looser rust off, paint with pretty much any kind of paint (spray paint) and then seal it. Make sure its thoroughly dry before putting water in it, and it should be plenty safe for the birds.

    • Susie Susie on Jun 22, 2020

      what would be safe for the birds to seal it with?

  • Julia Hochhalter Julia Hochhalter on Jun 22, 2017


    Found this for you!

    Learning how to remove rust is so simple you might just kick yourself for any old rusty tool or toy that you once threw away.

    Learning what causes rust may be the first step, though. Rust is the actual metal itself reacting with oxygen from moisture (such as rain, humidity, etc).

    It's important to know that rust is NOT simply a funky substance ON your metal; it is the metal itself oxidizing, breaking down. It's important to know this because when removing rust you are actually removing some of the metal itself (unless of course you're removing it from something that doesn't rust, like fabric). This means it's important to prevent rust, not just remove it, or else you'll be wearing down your item over time.

    In order to safely remove rust you'll need an acidic substance, such as those listed below.

    How to Remove Rust From Most Surfaces

    I have a bad habit of leaving my non-disposable safety razor in the shower. Forgetting to dry it off causes it to rust, not exactly something you want to be shaving with. Before I switched to a rust-proof razor, I had to find a way to remove the rust that would occur between the blade and the handle.

    I use this technique to remove rust from my razor, as well as all other metals, fabric, and most other surfaces.

    You will need:

    • Salt
    • A whole lemon or white vinegar (or something equally acidic)
    • An old toothbrush (I like to wrap the handle of these old toothbrushes in tape so I don't get it confused with our personal toothbrushes!)
    • (Very persistent rust stains on fabric or carpet may require diluted ammonia, described below. This is rare, in my experience.)

    Step-by-Step Instructions

    1. Start by rinsing the area to remove as much rust as possible. (Don't worry about soap, cleaners, etc and never use harsh chemicals, such as dangerous bleach.)
    2. If possible, I recommend soaking the rusted area for at least 30 seconds in the lemon juice or vinegar. You can use a small bowl for smaller items, spray it on with a spray bottle, or if you can't soak it because it's too big (like a bike), you might consider saturating a rag and placing it over the area.
    3. If you're using a lemon, cut it in half and sprinkle salt liberally over the inside. Use this to scrub at the area. The acidic and abrasive ingredients will clean the rust easily.
    4. If you're using white vinegar, use your toothbrush to scrub the area with a paste made from the vinegar and sea salt.
    5. Depending on what you're removing rust from you may need to blot, rinse, and repeat the steps on how to remove rust. Be sure you don't leave any rust behind on metals, as it can spread.
    6. For really stubborn rust, you may need to resort to applying a diluted mixture of ammonia (1 tsp per cup of warm water) and allowing the area to soak. Rinse and repeat the steps on how to remove rust if needed.

    For carpets, upholstery, etc using a wet/dry vacuum can help to pick up any extra moisture. Be sure to not place any fabrics in the dryer unless you are sure all the rest is removed.


  • Cori Widen Cori Widen on Jun 22, 2017

    Wire brush :) good luck!