Vinegar, Who Would Have Thunk it?

Canton--Football HOF, OH(Zone 6a)

The vinegar thread, of this category, which was started in 2006, has inspired me to share yet another "tidbit" of advice in the cleaning of our worldly possessions. BTW, that's an awesome thread! If you haven't read it, check it out…. Your pocketbook will thank you!!!

But, before I go on, I must apologize, in advance, to all of you "bullet-point" readers, out there! The word, tidbit, is in quotations above, because I am a 23 1/2 year veteran of the Residential Building Design Industry, drawing home plans, so my attention to detail can be a blessing…and a curse! Therefore, unfortunately, it's nearly impossible for me to keep instructions on the short side of things, but I’ll give it a good try!

I have been a big proponent of using distilled white vinegar for various cleaning jobs since the late 80's, when my Blessing-of-a-Mother-In-Law, God rest her sweet soul, shared with my husband and I her secret to keeping her windows so sparkling clean and streak-free. It's organic, and most of all, it works!

Well, in the Summer of 2011, I discovered a new, but masterful (if I don't say so myself) use for vinegar in my outdoor landscape! Keep in mind that by no means have I taken a remotely scientific approach to what you are about to read because, well, that's just too much work for me, but the measurements, referenced here, are noted for just that....reference only. So what is my, best-thing-since-sliced-bread-and-insect-screens secret?? Waaait forrr iiit....

Distilled white vinegar allows me to keep two birdbaths in our urban back yard! One bath is made from terra cotta, that has a rough glazed finish inside the bowl, and the other is made of glass. I pour about one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar into the fresh bird bath water at each change-out!! That's it! I know, who would have thunk it? So, going by the size of my two particular bird baths and the volume of my watering can, the solution = approximately one tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to approximately 1-1.25 gallons of fresh water, and I have pleasant and clean birdbaths, on a regular basis, with very little effort on my part ~ YAY!!!

The vinegar chemically breaks down, and deodorizes, the nasties from the business end of the feathered friends that visit my birdbaths daily! This solution ratio is strong enough to keep the water surprisingly clear and pleasant for human beings nearby, without the need to refresh / change out the water on a daily basis! In our particular case, one of my baths is about 10 feet from the edge of our patio, due to the close quarters of our small city lot. Therefore, our patio seating is closer to this bird bath than most people would typically prefer, so this solution has been tested and proven by 'Yours Truly' and our children with a keen sense of smell!

Water changes are a breeze! The broken down nasties dump right out of the bowl, and with a quick rinse of the bowl, with the hose nozzle, it's clean!
Update: In 2013, it was discovered that the Black-Eye Susans, by one of my baths, didn't like the conditions with the vinegar, although very diluted, in the soil from my "swirl method" water changings! So I highly suggest dumping the bath away from / out of the location of any desired plants in your landscape, if possible. My sincerest apologies to anyone who lost desirable plants (as I have) as a result of reading the original version of this post....

When time doesn't allow for me to refresh the water for a spell, the baths are still odor-free and that easy to clean even three to four days out (although that amount of time does risk evaporation, which leaves a water ring and several spots of dried nasties on the bowl edge, so it's recommended to not wait any longer than three days). I'm all about saving time, money and "elbow grease", when it comes to cleaning any of the objects, big or small, that occupy my little slice of the globe, and this quick trick does all three! No need to buy that $8 to $10 4oz. bottle of solution for your bird bath!

Once a month, I then give my bath bowls a thorough cleaning using approximately 1/8 - 1/4 of a cup of full strength vinegar with a natural, stiff brush then rinse with the hose! The only time that you actually need to do somewhat of a firm scrubbing is when you have dried nasties or a water ring to clean, but it's relatively easy to remove with full strength vinegar and the scrub brush. In this case, it might help things along to use hot vinegar, especially for glass baths.

The beauty of distilled white vinegar in the bird bath water is that it's completely natural, so it doesn't contaminate our local water run-off, and it's completely safe for birds who, I've read, don't really taste it. Along with birds, our local squirrels and an adorable neighborhood cat drink from my bath that is closer to the ground, and no harm has been done to any of these creatures! (In the city, right??)

In conclusion, my DG Friends, yes, it actually is possible to keep a bird bath in your own (back) yard or garden, with very little time and effort to keep it clean on your part, thanks to distilled white vinegar! So, take a trip to your fave local hardscape retailer and get the bird bath of your fancy so you can delight in watching our feathered friends refresh themselves while taking leisure in your back yard or garden, and the kids won’t complain when asked to do the job....too much!

Happy bird watching, to the world!!! With much love, Dana
P.S. More images to come. I just have to find them....

This message was edited Mar 6, 2013 1:31 PM

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