Cleaning, Maintaining, and Winterizing Your Rain Barrel

Cleaning and Maintenance:

Collecting rainwater can be very valuable for your lawn and garden, but stagnant water comes with its own set of problems. To combat issues like algae build-up and mosquito larvae, it is important to keep your rain barrel, and consequently your rainwater, clean. 

First, make sure all screens are in place both on your rain barrel and in your gutters. This will help to not only keep out insects in general, but also prevent debris from building up inside your barrel. Check the screens regularly to remove any caught leaves or other debris.
If your rain barrel requires cleaning, do the following:

  • If you are unable to drain the barrel for whatever reason, a small amount of vegetable oil on the surface of the water can be used to smother out mosquito and insect larvae.
  • A small amount of vinegar in your rain barrel will help to combat algae growth.
  • If you are able, drain the water regularly by opening the spigot and diverting the water away from the foundation of your home.  Do not let water sit stagnant in the barrel for long periods of time.
  • Once the water is drained and the barrel is disconnected from your collection system, remove the screen and spray down the inside of your barrel to remove any dirt or sediment that has built up. 
  • You may choose to use dish soap or vinegar on the inside of the barrel to clean it, but it is not recommended that you use bleach. 
  • Once the barrel is empty and clean, let it dry completely

Storage and Winterizing:

Once your barrel is drained and dry, check it over for damage. If you have noticed any leaks around the spigot(s), double check the seal for any damage and repair or replace as needed. You may use teflon tape as needed around the spigot(s). Do not allow water to freeze in your rain barrel. Water expands when frozen, and this will cause damage to your rain barrel and void the warranty.

  • Depending on where you live, choose a date in the fall before any significant freezes to drain and clean your rain barrel following the steps above. 
  • Store the rain barrel upside down over winter to ensure that no water collects in your barrel. 
  • Ensure that the spigot is left open while storing your rain barrel.
  • It is recommended that you store the rain barrel in a garage or enclosed space over the winter season, particularly if you live in a colder climate.  If storing the rain barrel outside turn upside down and keep the spigot open so it doesn’t fill with water.
  • Once spring arrives, you should re-install your rain barrel to take advantage of spring rainfall, but if a freeze is forecasted for your area, drain your rain barrel and disconnect it from your collection system. 
  • Please note: If you allow your rain barrel to freeze, it will void your Good Ideas Warranty.