How to Keep Your Water Trough Sparkly Clean

August 19, 2022 3 min read

As a horse owner, you know there are countless chores around the barn to keep everything clean and in good condition. One of the more tedious barn tasks is keeping the horses’ water troughs clean. No one wants to spend hours scrubbing dirt and slime out of a metal trough. But it doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as you’d think. We’ve some tips for easily keeping your horses' water trough sparkly clean!

How to Thoroughly Clean a Water Trough by Hand

Step 1: Drain Existing Water

First, dump out the water that’s in the trough. Using a high-pressure nozzle to spray off some of the debris is also helpful. This will make the scrubbing easier on you in the long run!

Step 2: Scrub the Trough with a Stiff Brush

Now it’s time to put some elbow grease into it. Use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub the whole trough. Don’t forget to clean the outside too. To kill the bacteria and algae in the trough, wash with a 10% bleach solution. If your horse is sensitive to the smell, you can achieve similar results with apple cider vinegar instead. You can scrub with dish soap and water before using bleach or vinegar for really nasty tanks.

Step 3: Rinse with Fresh Water

Once all of the dirt and algae are thoroughly scrubbed away, it’s time for a thorough rinse. The easiest way to do this is with a hose. It’s helpful to do a couple of rinses to be sure you get rid of all the soap, bleach, or vinegar. If you have time, let the tank dry in the sun for an hour or two to kill any bacteria left behind and let the cleaner smell dissipate.

Step 4: Use an Anti-Algae Product

Because water troughs are standing water, algae growth is inevitable. Luckily, there are some animal-safe products out there you can try to slow algae growth in water troughs. Check out these options:

How Often Should You Clean a Water Trough?

Clean water is essential to the health and well-being of your horse. If you wouldn’t drink the water, your horses shouldn’t be drinking it. It’s a good idea to check the water level of your troughs every day. You should also top off your horse’s water every other day. If you take these steps, you can clean your horses’ water troughs weekly. Once you add this to your weekly task list, there shouldn’t be much dirt and algae to scrub off.

Keeping Your Horse Hydrated

Keeping your horses’ water trough clean and free of debris and algae is the first step to keeping them hydrated. But, there are some other things to keep in mind.

  • Make sure your horse always has access to fresh water. If your horse is turned out with others, ensure there are multiple water troughs, so there’s no competition for water.
  • If you’re traveling, bring some familiar water with you. Some horses are picky about trying out new water sources. Bringing some water from home will prevent dehydration.
  • Provide a salt block. This is an easy way to increase salt in your horse’s diet, and it will help naturally increase their water intake.
  • Soak your horse’s hay. This is particularly important for horses that are stabled often and don’t have access to grass. Soaking hay is a sneaky way to increase your horse’s water intake.


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