Regardless of how little or often you choose to clean your water butt, sometimes algae, grit and bacteria can build up and create a pungent odour…

The most common reason for foul smell is irregular usage. If you do not use your water butt regularly, the water will stagnate over time and carry a pungent smell as a result.

Here are our favourite remedies to prevent and destroy odours without increasing your water usage:


Choose the right Water Butt for your Garden

When you are choosing your Water Butt, think about how much water you will need to use. If you have a large garden, you can potentially use thousands of litres at a time, and multiple water butts are needed. However, if you have a smaller sized garden and have low-maintenance foliage, you should not need to store as much water.

The 100L Mini Rainsavers are a sleek, slim-designed Water Butt that are easy to place in small gardens, but as they only carry up to 100 litres, there is far less water that can potentially stagnate.



Install an Automatic Watering System to use up excess Water

If you do not have the time to use the water from your water butt, investing an automatic watering system is an ideal solution.

The Irrigatia C12 Solar Automatic Watering System uses solar power to detect the weather and alter watering according to the conditions and the season, providing plants with the precise irrigation to help them thrive. So the more sun – the more it waters! More importantly, it filters water straight from your water butt so your stored water will constantly be used and prevent stagnation.

Using an automatic watering system also uses 90% less water than a traditional hosepipe, without parching your plants. This is far better for the planet, but will also save you money! As discussed in our previous blog post, finding sustainable alternatives to a hosepipe saves on average £1.50 per hour. When you can get thousands of litres of rainwater from your water butt for free, this is a considerable saving!


Install a Rain Diverter to Prevent Contamination

One common problem with water butts that causes odours is a build-up of debris from the drainpipes. This problem can be easily avoided by installing a Gutter Mate Rain Diverter.

The filter is designed to collect the small particles of debris, such as: sand, grit and moss, as well as leaves and other larger offcuts. Collecting this debris allows just the rainwater to filter down your drainpipes and into your water butt and therefore reduces the chance of odours.



Remove Algae from using a Freshening Treatment

A potential cause of odour can be the presence of algae. Fortunately you do not need to drain and scrub your water butt by hand to remove algae: simply add some Water Butt Freshener.

When added to your water butt, the non-toxic treatment keeps the stored rainwater free from algae and scum and can also prevent and treat other unpleasant odours. This solution is a very low-maintenance and inexpensive, making it perfect for those that do not want to use their water butt regularly.

Please note that the Be Green 500ml Water Butt Freshener is safe to use in the garden and will not harm children, wildlife or plants. However, we cannot vouch for other brands. Always read the label before use.



Use Charcoal as a Natural Cleaner

Activated charcoal has been long known as a natural water purification method, but it is also an inexpensive home remedy to treating odours and algae. Although charcoal-infused water from a water butt is still not recommended for human consumption unless in a survival situation, it is perfectly suitable for watering plants or household use.

Either purchase specialist charcoal infuser or filters for your water butt or create your own using charcoal and a pair of old tights. Simply crush enough charcoal to fill the tights, tie a knot and rinse the bag until the water runs clear. It should then be placed on the inside of your water butt and wrapped around the flexible hose to keep it firmly in place.


Check or replace the lid if you Water Butt does not seal properly

If your lid is loose or broken, your water butt will almost certainly attract bugs and cause bacteria to grow. Ensure the lid is fitted tightly on to the water butt and if there are any obvious signs of cracks or holes, replace the lid.

You can find replacement lids on our website or speak to a product specialist if you cannot see the right lid for your water butt straight away.



Move your Water Butt a Shaded Area

Sunlight and heat might do wonder for plants, but when it comes to your water butt, it can speed up the process of stagnation. Water butts should be placed in a shaded area that will not surpass twenty degrees. When rainwater is heated higher than this temperature, it causes bacteria to grow and rapidly multiply.

If your water is significantly higher than this on a regular basis, try one of our odour eliminator ideas above or give your water butt a deep clean before letting it naturally refill in a cool, shaded location.



A Deep Clean should resolve any outstanding Problems

The dreaded deep clean is like a car’s MOT: it needs to be done once a year to ensure the longevity of your rainwater (or engine). Like your car, if there’s problem, it can often be a case of trial and error to avoid a hefty bill from the garage.  Although it feels wasteful to pour out the water and start again, this will ensure that your water butt produces healthy, odour-free water.

To give your water butt a deep clean simply dispose of the rainwater in your water butt and wash the outside with a jet hose or soapy water and a coarse brush (if accessible) and clean the interior with a hot solution or gardening disinfectant. Once you have finished cleaning your water butt, add water butt freshener and let it refill with rainwater.

This should be completed once a year regardless of odours or build-up to maintain a healthy water butt. However, if you find that you are struggling with smelly or dirty water: a deep clean can solve the majority of your water butt problems.


If you have any further questions about how to keep your water butt clean and odour-free, leave them in the comments or contact our Customer Care team for expert advice on which products would be best for your water butt.