How to clean you rain barrel or rain water tank

The article below focuses on cleaning rain barrels but the principles apply to all water tanks. Larger 5000 litre or 10000 litre water tanks usually have inspection holes that are big enough for the average person to enter. Cleaning big water tanks effectively may require that you get inside the tank!

cleaning rain barrels
Have you been rain water harvesting without a clean up? Your rain barrel could use a good cleaning, its’ been a couple of years now right? Have you taken a good look inside your rain barrel lately? You may be surprised at what you find. A clean rain barrel is a happy rain barrel. Your rain barrel treats you right by working hard to collect all that rainwater that otherwise would be draining off into who knows where. This water can then be utilized around the house and garden in numerous ways. So treat your rain barrel right and practice a little rain barrel hygiene.

Over the course of time your rain barrel will collect and accumulate all sorts of sediment and organic debris that comes into your rain barrel from your roof source. Perhaps pieces of grit, bird waste, pollen, dust, leaves, seeds, and other particulates that land on the roof you are collecting water from. This debris laden water enters your rain barrel and it is there that all this material settles out of the water column and forms a layer of muck on the bottom of your rain barrel. Many rain barrels also form a layer of algae growth on the interior of the barrel walls that eventually ends up settling to the bottom of the barrel.

So when it comes time for rain barrel hygiene how is this done? How to clean a rain barrel? Luckily the vast majority of rain barrels are very hardy types and will require a cleaning once a year with maybe a little tidying during the season. The barrel should be cleaned of debris and algae growth and the plumbing components and hardware should be checked at this time to. This bulleted list will give the steps you can follow when cleaning your rain barrel.


  • Drain, then disconnect your rain barrel or water drum from the down spout that is feeding your barrel. Place barrel to the side.
  • Start at the gutter canal that feeds your rain barrel to make sure that the gutter is clean and clear from debris. Rinse this gutter with a garden hose to be sure it is draining properly.
  • View the interior of the downspout to be sure that there is no material blocking the downspout that could end up in your rain barrel.
  • Place a new ½ inch mesh screen at the top of the gutter downspout to filter out larger debris.
  • Remove and clean, or replace the mesh screen on your rain barrel. Be sure the mesh is in good condition to handle the new season. This screen is to filter out smaller debris from entering into your rain barrel, thereby reducing overall maintenance. This screen also keeps insects or critters from entering your rain barrel.
  • Inspect the inside of your rain barrel for general condition. You are looking for cracks in the barrel, debris on the bottom, or algae growth on the interior.
  • Lay your rain barrel on its side and spray rinse the interior of the barrel to remove loose debris.
  • If you need to scrub the interior of the barrel a long handled brush will work well. Using a mixture of vinegar and water, or a light bleach and water solution; scrub the interior of the barrel’s walls and bottom with the brush. Then rinse your barrel again and let dry.
  • Inspect the spigot of the barrel to make sure it is functioning well. Clean if necessary.
  • Reconnect your barrel, wait for a good rain, and enjoy the best water available for your preferred uses.

With a little bit of time your rain barrel can be kept clean and operational for years of use.

Source: Full Service Aquatics (By Mike Gannon)

Rain barrels in the form of polyethylene water drums (usually up to around 200 litres in capacity) are easier to maintain in a hygienic condition compared to oak or wooden barrels. JoJo Tanks in South Africa manufacture a wide range of storage vessels, ranging from small drums right up to the huge 20000 litre water tank. Click on the links below to view the various JoJo Tanks products available.

JoJo Tanks South Africa offer a wide range of products such as plastic water tanks and chemical tanks to suit every household, business or agricultural need, including silo tanks and silo tank stands as well as other high quality JoJo Tanks products.  See JoJo Tanks’ VERTICAL TANKS, HORIZONTAL TANKS (transporter tanks), STEEL TANK STANDS and OTHER JOJO PRODUCTS and see JoJo Tanks’ NEW 6000 LITRE UNDERGROUND TANKSAlso see our FAQ and WATER TANK PRICES.

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We are authorised JoJo Tanks dealers in South Africa and dispatch orders directly from JoJo Tank depots to save on transport costs. Full range of JoJo Tanks products and JoJo water tanks for sale.  CONTACT US for a quote on the right JoJo water tank or other JoJo product for you.  Special discounts are available on multiple orders of chemical tanks and water tanks and to our commercial and government customers. We can usually delivery tanks and tank stands free of charge to business/commercial addresses in South Africa.


(15000 litre and 20000 litre JoJo vertical water tanks & chemical tanks are available on order directly from JoJo Tanks’ main factory)

Live in the USA and need rainwater harvesting equipment?  Click HERE!

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