How to Clean a Pet Water Fountain

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio

Pet water fountains can entice dogs and cats to drink more water, and they can be more convenient for pet parents, too. Unfortunately, they’re a bit more complicated to clean than regular water bowls.


It’s important to know how to properly and thoroughly wash a fountain and its components to keep everything running smoothly and ensure your pet’s water will be as clean and pure as possible. Every product will come with instructions on how to clean and maintain it, so it all starts with following the directions closely. 

Not sure if you want to get a  pet fountain, particularly because of the cleaning routine that you’ll need to follow? Below is some information to give you an idea of what to expect when it comes to maintaining a dog or cat water fountain, along with some tips on how to keep a pet water fountain clean.  

How Often Should You Clean a Pet Fountain?

Although pet fountains will move the water constantly and help keep it clean, bacteria, algae, and slime may still develop. By following a schedule for washing the fountain’s parts, you’ll be able to keep the water fresh and safe for your pet. Plus, cleaning the fountain completely can also help ensure it will continue working properly. 

When it comes to how frequently you should clean your pet’s water fountain, see if the manufacturer provides guidelines. For example, a complete cleaning could be done once a week or every other week. But you might need to clean the fountain more often, especially if you have more than one pet or you’re noticing problems like slime.  

Remember, too, that you’ll need to replace the filter often, such as once a month. Again, check the manufacturer’s recommendations to be sure you always have a filter that’s doing its job. 

It’s a good idea to change the water every day or every other day. And, rather than adding to the water that’s already there, dump the old water and add fresh water.   

The Basic Steps for Cleaning a Pet Fountain

A fountain should come with instructions for cleaning it the right way, so follow the directions to get the best results. Generally, here are the steps involved in cleaning a pet water fountain:

After unplugging the fountain, getting rid of the water, and taking it apart according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you can clean its various parts separately.  

Many products come with parts that are dishwasher safe, so this helps save time and effort. If you don’t have a dishwasher, you’ll need to wash those parts by hand, along with any of the other components that aren’t dishwasher safe. This could be done with a non-abrasive sponge, soap, and hot water.

There might be some parts, such as the pump, that need to be washed with a small brush to ensure you get it nice and clean. Also, check the filter(s) and rinse or replace if necessary. 

After washing, rinse and dry everything before putting the fountain back together. 

Note: The manufacturer might recommend using white vinegar and water to clean your pet fountain, and they might recommend running your fountain with a mix of water and vinegar, especially if you have hard water. Just be sure to rinse off the vinegar completely before filling the fountain with pure water and setting it down for your pet.

How to Clean a Pet Water Fountain Pump

To keep the fountain running as it should, make sure the pump isn’t clogged. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning this component correctly. Using small tools, such as a cotton swab or brush, can help you clean the inside of the pump more easily.  

How to Clean a Pet Water Fountain Filter

When washing your fountain, check the filter. Instructions regarding the filter should be provided by the manufacturer – e.g., how often the filter will need to be replaced, and signs that it needs to be replaced sooner than expected. 

Typically, before adding a new filter to the fountain, you’ll need to rinse it thoroughly under running water – be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions based on the filter you’re using. Also, if there are additional filters, such as a pre-filter that helps prevent clogs, you might need to rinse it under running water whenever you do a cleaning.  

Pet Water Fountains That Are Designed to Be Easy to Clean

Some pet fountains are simpler to clean than others, so if you’re in the market for this product, it’s wise to narrow your options to those that are designed to make washing and sanitizing them a snap. Here’s one example:

PetSafe Drinkwell Pagoda Pet Fountain

The PetSafe Drinkwell Pagoda Pet Fountain can hold 70 ounces of water, and it’s a good option for cats and small to medium dogs. With two streams, a large bowl on the bottom, and a smaller bowl that’s elevated, your pets will have multiple ways to get the refreshing water they need.  

This fountain is BPA free and made of durable ceramic that’s free of heavy metals. It features a foam pre-filter that will work on catching debris and hair, along with a carbon filter that will help remove odors and improve taste. 

In terms of cleaning, there aren’t any crevices that are challenging to reach and wash, which is certainly a plus. Although you’ll need to hand wash the pump with soap and water, the rest of this fountain is top rack dishwasher safe. 

Taking the fountain apart and assembling it is also straightforward. After unplugging the wall adapter from the pump, remove the tower, dump all of the water, and disassemble the components by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Then, after cleaning, just assemble it again.   

The manufacturer says the foam filter should be replaced every one to two months, while the carbon filter should be replaced every two to four weeks. If it isn’t time to replace the foam filter, you can rinse it when you clean the fountain.  

Here’s a video from PetSafe, showing you how to clean this fountain:

Note: PetSafe sells a  Drinkwell Cleaning Kit: a set of brushes that can make cleaning your fountain’s pump easier.  

Not So Complicated After All!

It may take some more time and effort to clean your pet’s water fountain, but don’t worry, once you get the hang of things, you’ll become more efficient, so you’ll be done in no time. You might even discover that, on the whole, you spend less time cleaning the fountain than you used to spend washing the water bowl every day. It’ll become just another part of your pet care routine, and your furry friend will have the fresh water they crave at all times.     

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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