I will warn you from the outset; there is no way that I am going to be able to chat about any water butt cleaner without a few ‘butt’ jokes thrown in.
Ok, so now we all know where we stand let’s get down to business;
I am guessing that you have arrived at this page because you have a water butt in your garden or allotment and the water is starting to look (or even smell) a bit iffy?
Maybe you are just about to start your garden spring clean and you are looking for a safe, environmentally friendly product to rid your container of bacteria?
You might use the water from for a number of things in your garden or allotment:
- Watering plants
- Topping up ponds
- Feeding birds
- Rinsing vegetables
- Flushing toilets
- Drinking water for pets and livestock
For all of these jobs, you need to ensure that the water in your container is clean and safe.
Thing is, it is a serious matter; the water from collection tanks has been responsible for serious illnesses and sometimes death.
“Recent investigations suggest 95% of UK garden water butts may be contaminated with Legionella bacteria, the bug responsible for the potentially deadly Legionnaires’ disease” Legionellacontrol.com
When the outside air temperature starts to rise in spring through to summer, the water in the collection tanks rises in temperature too. Still, warm water is the perfect breeding ground for the legionella bacteria which multiplies in temperatures over 20 degrees.
When contaminated water is used in conjunction with a pump and a hose, the fine mist that is sprayed over your garden carries the bacteria into the air, via the water droplets, causing it to be inhaled by the gardener.
We need to keep our butts clean!
When looking at products for cleaning water butts I had one stipulation:
The product must be safe; safe to the handler, other humans, pets and the environment.
What did we do?
- Online research to find out what is available
- Determine the products ingredients to ensure it is safe and environmentally friendly
- State the price
- Highlight if the product comes with any safety warnings or data sheet
- Establish how long it takes for the product to kill bacteria
- Confirm if the product comes in recyclable packaging or not
What are we NOT going to do?
- Advise you which product to buy, that’s your choice
- Give a biased view, this review is based on fact and information provided by the companies websites
We have carried out a couple of these review articles to date and In the interest of being open and transparent, we want to let you know that we have included our own product in this review to show you what is available on the market; our review is impartial and based on fact and information available online only – no insider knowledge used here!
So lets get started; here are 5 safe, eco product to effectively clean your water butt
Just Green Water Treatment Fluid for Rain Collector - £10.99
Ingredients: This product states that it is a ‘natural’ additive for water butts made from naturally organic, biodegradable, seaweed based liquid.
The company ‘Just Green’ go on to say that this product:
- Enhances quality of water naturally
- Will improve water quality applied to plant life
- Nontoxic, ecologically sound
- Biodegradable, safe to children, pets & wildlife
Product safety: unfortunately there is no Safety Data Sheet available to allow us to expand on the specific ingredients in the water.
However I did notice a customer review where they stated that they had added it to their pond and shortly after, all the fish died.
How quickly does it work? It is not entirely clear as to how long it takes for the product to kill the bacteria after application. From customer reviews I have fathomed out that 2 doses, a week apart, eradicated any smell from the water butt however I have not come across any details from the company themselves.
Is the packaging recyclable? As far as I can gather, the company ‘Just Green’ are an online company online and there doesn’t appear to be a website to give me any other information. The product comes in a plastic bottle however I can’t tell if it is recyclable or not.
This product is quite ingenious! One disc, no chemicals and completely safe to you and the environment.
Ingredients – Microbial silver
This is an anti-microbial product which is placed in a fish tank or waterbutt, the strong microbial action of the 99.9% pure industrial silver destroys fungal, viral, bacterial micro-organisms and parasites in the reproductive stage, this keeps fish healthier, prevents the spread of disease, and reduces nitrates and bacteria levels. Ammonia levels are reduced along with phosphates and nitrates.
The pure microbial silver coating kills fungal, viral and bacterial microbes on contact.
- Does not harm beneficial bacteria in filters.
- Fish tanks stay cleaner with FreshaTank.
- FreshaTank is patented and approved.
- Eliminates foul smelling water.
- Can be used in water butts.
- Helps prevent the spread of disease.
- It is re-useable, everlasting and can be used with all fish.
- Kills algae in the water which slows down algae forming on the glass.
- Is totally safe and does not leech metals into the water.
Due to the reduced levels of bacteria in the water, Freshatank does not replace the need for usual regular maintenance.
Product safety There doesn’t appear to be a Safety Data Sheet available for this product however, details on product testing is available here
How quickly does it work? The silver microbes are released into the water straight away, one disc is effective on 90 litres of water.
Defenders Water Butt Treatment - £9.95
Ingredients This is unclear. The packaging states “Natural, safe, non-toxic water butt cleaner” however the actual ingredients are not listed.
- Natural, safe, non-toxic water butt cleaner treats up to 6500 L of rainwater and household water, eliminating unpleasant smells
- Prevents green water, soap scum, keeping stored water free from algae and slime; following treatment, water is safe for watering garden plants, flowerbeds and lawns
- Water butt treatment has a content indicator on the side of the bottle to assist with dosage
- To treat rainwater in a standard 100 L household water butt, dilute 25 ml (three capfuls) in a clean watering can then pour into water butt; add a further 25 ml weekly between march and October, fortnightly between November and February
- Safe and effective water butt treatment for use outdoors in gardens; to treat household water, double dosage to 50 ml
Product safety There doesn’t appear to be a Safety Data Sheet available for this product
How quickly does it work This is also unclear; there are varying customer reviews on the effectiveness of this product from ‘works really well’ to ‘total rip off’ so it is hard to determine how quickly it works or exactly how effective it is.
Is the packaging recyclable? The product comes in a plastic bottle however I can’t establish from the information online, if it is recyclable plastic.
ESOL for Gardens - Anti-fungal spray £7.00
Ingredients Electrolysed water
<0.01% hypochlorus acid as a result of the electrical charge
Cleaning your water butt with ESOL ensures that any bacteria that may be on the interior of the butt are eliminated.
Once clean adding a small dose ( 50ml per litre) of ESOL to the refilled water butt will ensure that any bacteria that may infect the water in the future is eradicated. ESOL has a residual kill element which means that it leave a useful persistent disinfecting affect, ‘killing’ pathogens even after the application process is complete.
ESOL has been approved under regulation 31 of the Water Supply Regulations 2000 for use in public water supplies in the UK.
Product safety You can find the data safety sheet here
How quickly does it work? After being added to the water, ESOL will kill bacteria and fungus within 10 seconds.
Is the packaging recyclable? Yes, it states on the bottle “packaging is made from recycled milk cartons and bottle tops; this is what gives the bottles their slightly green tinge”
Hozelock water butt treatment - £8.12
A safe non-toxic treatment for stored water prevents unpleasant odours and unsightly scum whilst helping to keep the water free from slime and algae.
Ingredients This product states that it is ‘Non-toxic’ however it is not clear what the ingredients actually are.
Product Safety After scouring this companies website we could not find any additional information on the safety elements of the water butt cleaner however, after contacting them they have since supplied us with the Safety Data sheet
Allthough this product has been deemed to be safe and non-toxic the Safety Data Sheet does flag up some precautions that should be taken:
P102: Keep out of reach of children.
P262: Do not get in eyes, on skin, or on clothing.
P264: Wash hands thoroughly after handling.
P305: IF IN EYES:
P351: Rinse cautiously with water for several minutes.
Skin contact: There may be mild irritation at the site of contact.
Eye contact: There may be irritation and redness.
Ingestion: There may be irritation of the throat.
Inhalation: Not anticipated under normal conditions of use.
However it does state:
Environmental precautions: No special environmental concerns.
How quickly does it work? Again, it is unclear from the company website or customer reviews as to how long it takes for this product to work.
Is the packaging recyclable? In a customer review they have confirmed that the bottle is made from recyclable plastic down to it showing the black recycling triangle symbol. However the companies Safety Data Sheet states: Dispose of as normal industrial waste.
Recycling may depend on your local authorities rules and regulations
3 top tip to keep your water butt clean and safe
- The perfect time to clean your water butt is autumn. The water will not be in great demand at this time of year so now would be the perfect time to clean the butt, kill any bacteria and get ready to have it filled with all of that wonderful winter rain.
- Make sure you keep the lid on securely. Mosquitos love warm, still water and would not think twice about laying their larvae in your collector. Mosquito bites are generally just an irritant but in some cases, can lead to infections or even worse, blood poisoning.
- Do not allow any leaves or debris to collect in your water tank. Organic material in a water butt will have a negative effect on any treatment you choose to use.
We like to be fair, so where we have been able; we have contacted the companies to gather the information that is sadly missing from either the products or their company websites. (Feb 19) When we get this information we will share it with you – we are good like that.
Some of these products can be added to the existing water in your butts (providing it doesn’t contain any organic material). My personal opinion: I would be hesitant about reusing water that originally contained a huge bacteria load and smelt like rotten veg!
Plastic waste and recycling is a huge topic; each of us can be proactive by being aware of the packaging of all their products, making smart buying choices and discarding waste responsibly by reusing and recycling. Essentially the process starts with the manufacturers.
Related content: 2 major reasons why plastic packaging needs to be recyclable
All credit for the jokes goes to corny joke specialist, blogger and pun inventor David Withington
You can find him doing what he does best, here davidwithington.com thanks David!
Did you enjoy this article?
There were quite a few links in this article so we have collected them all together here, in case you missed any: Resources: Legionellacontrol.com Freshatank product testing results ESOL for Gardens Safety Data Sheet Hozelock water butt treatment Safety Data sheet Related content: Are garden water butts contaminated with Legionella Bacteria? Is Legionella lurking in your water butt? Shopping: You can buy Just Green Water Butt treatment here You can buy Freshatank anti-microbial disks here You can buy defender water butt treatment here You can buy ESOL for Gardens Anti-Fungal spray here You can buy Hozelock water butt treatment here