This post contains affiliate links, and we will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on our links.

How to Clean a Dog Water Fountain

Not sure how to clean your dog’s water fountain? Here’s a step by step guide to cleaning a water fountain safely and effectively.

Did you know your dog’s bowl is the fourth germiest place in your house, according to the National Sanitation Foundation?

In fact, your dog’s bowl can be home to bacteria like E. coli, salmonella, and MRSA, a strain of staph bacteria that’s resistant to the most common antibiotics. These bacteria are a danger to both your dog and the rest of the family.

Fortunately, you’re already helping to reduce pathogens in your dog’s water by choosing a water fountain for your dog. The constant flow of  impedes the growth of bacteria, viruses, and mold, and generally keeps your dog’s water fresher.

But it’s not totally resistant to germs and still needs cleaning, so how exactly do you clean it? Read on for step by step instructions.

What You’ll Need

  • Dog Water Fountain
  • Dish soap
  • Hot water
  • Soft, clean sponge
  • Bottle brushes, aquarium brushes, or similar round brushes (or a cleaning kit)
  • Dishwasher and dishwasher detergent (if your model has dishwasher safe pieces)
  • Disinfectant bleach (note: not all bleaches actually disinfect, so be sure to check the label to make sure your bleach is an EPA certified disinfectant)
  • Manufacturer instructions
  • Fresh filter (if change is needed)
  • Fresh pre-filter, if your fountain has one (if change is needed)
Drinking from a human fountain
Just like human water fountains, it’s vital to keep your dog’s fountain clean and bacteria-free.

Step 1: Know How Often to Clean the Water Fountain

Remember, while water fountains aren’t hotbeds of bacterial and fungal growth like regular dog bowls, they still need frequent cleaning.

You should be cleaning your dog’s water fountain at least once every two weeks. Change the filter every two to four weeks or more often if you have multiple pets or the fountain begins to contain debris, feel slimy, or has reduced water flow.

You can’t be sure what’s in your dog’s water fountain, so just assume the worst and never skip steps while cleaning to make sure that all the dangerous pathogens are killed.

Between cleanings, change the water at least every few days and monitor the fountain for signs of mold or bacteria like slime (technically called biofilm) and a pink or red tint.

Step 2: Prepare for Cleaning

Now to the actual cleaning process.

Get ready by unplugging the fountain and dumping the water – just make sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water while you’re cleaning their bowl.

Next up, disassemble your fountain as much as possible. Don’t forget to remove things like the cord, the pump, the faceplate over the pump and motor, and the impeller (the propeller looking thing that helps move water up inside the fountain).

Your manufacturer’s instructions will generally tell you how much you can disassemble the fountain without breaking it (and how to put it all back together once you’re finished), so be sure to use it for guidance. If the instructions contradict anything you read in this tutorial, listen to the manufacturer. They know your machine.

Be sure to place the cord well away from any water to avoid damage to it.

Step 3: Wash the Fountain with Soap and Water

Here’s the easy part. Place any dishwasher safe parts, which for most fountains is, well, most of the fountain, in the dishwasher, add your preferred dishwasher detergent, and run it on its hottest setting.

If you aren’t sure if a part is safe, check the manufacturer instructions again. If you’re still not sure, err to the side of caution. Otherwise you may end up with melted fountain pieces in your dishwasher.

While the dishwasher is running, go ahead and use a soft sponge to wash any non-dishwasher safe parts with hot, soapy water. Use a brush to remove anything clinging to any parts of the fountain and to scrub any crevices or small areas that you can’t reach with a sponge. Finish with a rinse to remove any lingering soap.

Step 4: Disinfect the Fountain

Once all the pieces have been washed, you’ll need to disinfect them. Be sure to disinfect not just the hand washed pieces, but also those that have been run through the dishwasher. Unless your dishwasher has an NSF certified sanitizing setting, the water in the dishwasher isn’t hot enough to adequately eliminate all dangerous pathogens.

To disinfect, soak all part in a solution of one part bleach and nine parts hot water for at least 10 minutes.

Whenever using bleach, remember to use the necessary safety precautions. Work in a well ventilated area. Wear gloves and other protective gear, and use tongs to take things in and out of the bleach solution to prevent splashing and minimize contact between bleach and your skin.

After soaking, rinse all parts thoroughly and allow the pieces to air dry.

Step 5: Reassemble the Fountain and Replace Filter

Once all parts are completely dry (trapped moisture can lead to the growth of bacteria or mold), you can reassemble the fountain and replace the filter and, if necessary, pre-filter.

It may be easier to replace the filter either during or after reassembly, depending on your fountain.

Use your fountain’s instructions if you need a reminder of how the pieces go back together.

Finally, refill the fountain, place it where desired, and plug it back in.


Making sure your dog has a constant supply of fresh, clean water is an essential part of keeping them (and the rest of your family) healthy.

Using a fountain makes it easier to ensure your dog has clean water, but it’s still essential to regularly wash and disinfect the fountain, as well as change the filter. This helps keep your pet’s water free of dangerous contaminants.

Do you still have questions about cleaning a dog water fountain? Or do you have additional advice for cleaning a dog water fountain easily and thoroughly? Please share with us in the comments.


Megan Kriss

Megan Kriss has been a writer and editor for about five years and a lover of dogs for her whole life. She lives in Georgia with her Border Collie and Chow Chow mix, Ginger, her two cats, Pepper and Misha, and her fiance, Matthew.
Leave a Comment