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Cleaning Water Buckets

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Cleaning water buckets is a necessary stable chore. Water is a crucial element to the health and well being of a horse. Ideally a stabled horse would have water provided to it at all times via either an automatic waterer or a bucket of some sort. Currently all of my horses are bucket watered. There are two important things you need to consider when providing water to a horse via buckets:

1. The bucket MUST be checked at least once a day, perhaps more, depending on the size of the bucket. It goes without saying that an empty water bucket is pretty much useless.

2. The bucket must be clean.

Bucket cleanliness is one of my BIG pet peeves. I like a clean bucket. My theory is, if you wouldn’t drink out of it, why should your horse. Ideally a horse’s water bucket should be cleaned once a day and scrubbed as needed.

Materials For Cleaning Water Buckets

Scrubbing Brush  – You could get one from the dollar store!

Water Hose

(I don’t recommend soap…in most cases water is just fine!)


  1. Empty most of the water out of the bucket. I like to leave a small amount to use to scrub.
  2. Use your scrub brush to thoroughly scrub the inside of the bucket.
  3. Rinse
  4. Repeat if Necessary!

Common Sense

It should be obvious to most what is and isn’t acceptable. For me there are three categories:

Ideal – no algae, dirt, or other debris. You can easily see all the way down to the bottom. The water looks clean enough for YOU to drink.


Acceptable – You can easily see all the way down to the bottom. There may be some dirt or algae stuck to the bottom, maybe hay particles floating on top. You wouldn’t want to drink it but it probably wouldn’t be all that bad. Buckets near feeding areas are more likely to get junk from hay in them. This particular water bucket was near the front of a paddock where hay was routinely tossed over the fence, for example. The bucket needs to be cleaned before it is filled again.


 Not Acceptable – This bucket needs to be emptied and cleaned now. It looks disgusting to you. You can’t see through to the bottom of the tub, what you can see is pretty nasty either hay, algae, dirt or a combination thereof. This bucket needs a thorough cleaning with a scrub brush and maybe even some soap before you use it again.