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How to Clean a Cat Water Fountain (5 Steps)

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

Hepper Cat Water Fountain

Water is a vital component for every living thing, and cats are no exception. Owning a cat means ensuring that they get enough clean and fresh water to keep them in good health. If you got yourself a cat water fountain or are thinking of buying one, you might be wondering how easy they are to clean.

Here, we go over a few of the best methods for cleaning a cat fountain and all of its fiddly bits. This way, you can keep it clean and sanitary so your cat can continue to drink from it safely.


Why a Water Fountain?

Why is getting your cat a water fountain so important? Indoor cats generally don’t get enough water, particularly if they have a water bowl, as they are naturally drawn to running water. Not only is hydrating your cat vital, but it can also help prevent future health problems.

Cats are prone to kidney diseaseurinary tract disease, and bladder stones. All these conditions can occur when a cat is consistently dehydrated and isn’t getting enough water.

One way to provide cats with enough water is to get a cat water fountain, though they are more of a challenge to clean than a simple bowl. But if you suspect that your cat is not drinking enough, it might be worth it to invest in one.

Water fountains can really help your cat drink more water, but finding the right one can be a challenge. Our Hepper Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain will keep your cat safe and hydrated with its advanced triple filtration system and large capacity. It's easy to clean in the dishwasher and offers three different flow modes and an automatic shutoff. 

Hepper Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain
  • Premium 304-Grade Stainless Steel - This metal cat water fountain is hygienic, with superior...
  • Serene & Healthy Cat Drinking Fountain Experience - With whisper-quiet pumping & an advanced...

Before We Get Started

Before cleaning, make sure you empty all the water of the fountain, including the reservoir, if it has one. You’ll need to take the entire thing apart and wash every piece.

How it’s washed depends on the type of fountain it is and what kind of cleaning products and equipment you have. Fountains are generally more sanitary than bowls of water because there’s movement. However, bacteria can still grow, so it’s important to clean them about once a week.

Fountains are notorious for having little nooks and crannies that can make cleaning them a challenge. You can use a toothbrush or purchase a cleaning kit meant for cat fountains. You can also purchase small brushes from an aquarium store. It’s also important to take apart the pump and clean it out.

The following are the different steps that you can take to clean your cat’s fountain.

How to Clean a Cat Water Fountain in 5 Steps

1. Use the Dishwasher

Dishwashers use high-powered jets of very hot water, which makes them more hygienic than handwashing.

Once you’ve taken the fountain apart, you can place all the pieces in the dishwasher, and once it is done, add a new filter (if it’s time for a new one), put it together, refill it, and you’re done! Easy peasy!

Empty dishwasher with open door
Image Credit: Castorly, Pexels

2. Handwash the Fountain


If you don’t have a dishwasher or it didn’t get the fountain as clean as you wanted, you can clean it by hand using things around the house. This includes natural cleaners such as salt, lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda. Keep in mind that plastic scratches easily, and using abrasive scrubbers can cause scratches. So, you’ll want to be relatively gentle with a plastic fountain.

You can use a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water to clean the bowl and parts of the fountain and turn it on so it cycles through the system. Follow this by running clean water through a couple of times until there’s no vinegar residue left, before filling it with clean water for your cat.

If you have any hard water stains, you can make a paste with salt and lemon juice for scrubbing purposes.

Stainless Steel

You can use a few of the same cleaning techniques for plastic fountains. You’ll need to use an acid-based cleaner for stainless steel, so you can use lemon juice with a plastic mesh scrubber to clean it up.


Ceramic doesn’t scratch as easily as plastic, but it can happen if you use abrasive scrubbers. Distilled white vinegar can be used to soak, and if you add baking soda, it will create an effervescence reaction that can help scour the fountain. Use a plastic scouring pad to scrub any stains away.

3. Replace the Filter

Each fountain has its own kind of filter, and you’ll also need to invest in replacements. The general recommendation is to replace the filter about once every 2 weeks to once a month. Just read the instructions that come with the filter replacements.

Most filters also need to be run under cold water for about 30 seconds or more before you put them in the fountain.

orange cat drinking water from the fountain
Image Credit: FotoLT, Shutterstock

4. Clean the Pump

You’ll probably need to clean the pump by hand because it’s usually attached to the electrical cord. You’ll need to take the front of the pump off, which will expose the little fan (this is much easier than it sounds). Sometimes, it can become clogged with fur and stop working.

This is where a cleaning kit or toothbrush can come in handy. You might also need tweezers and a Q-tip to get right into the fan to remove the cat hair.

If the pump in your fountain seems to stop working, open it up and double-check that it isn’t clogged. Of course, this is less likely to happen if you clean the pump every time you clean the fountain.

5. Check the Small Bits

If you don’t have a dishwasher that you can throw all the fountain pieces into, you can soak everything in distilled white vinegar for about 30 minutes or so. You can also use a cleaning brush or toothbrush to do extra scrubbing if necessary. Follow it by rinsing everything under running water until the vinegar is gone.



While cleaning a fountain is a little more complicated than a water bowl, in the long run, it can help keep your cat healthy and even prolong their life. If you have a dishwasher, cleaning the fountain should be a breeze, but washing it by hand isn’t difficult as long as you use the right materials and ensure that you use a soft scrubber.

You should aim to keep yourself on a regular schedule for cleaning your fountain. Once a week is usually best, particularly since some cats might refuse to drink from it if the water is stale and gross.

Remember that you only need to change the filter about once every 2 weeks to once a month. Just stick to a routine for maintaining the fountain, like you already do for the litter box, and your cat will thank you!

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