What helps against stinking water in the rain barrel?

What helps against stinking water in the rain barrel?


The stench from the rain barrel is the result of putrefaction. The bacteria develop particularly well under the following conditions:

  • Low oxygen content
  • Pollution
  • Direct sunlight
  • Wrong cleaning agents

also read

  • Remove algae from the rain barrel
  • Pump water out of the rain barrel
  • Build a lid for the rain barrel yourself

Low oxygen content

Putrefactive bacteria love an anaerobic, i.e. low-oxygen, environment. The longer the water in your rain barrel is unused, the more the oxygen content escapes. The same happens if no fresh water flows in for a longer period of time in dry periods.


If your rain barrel is in an unfavorable location, leaves often fall into the tub. In addition, algae form at high temperatures and good lighting conditions. Also consider the bird droppings that get from the rain gutter via the downpipe into the collecting container.

Direct sunlight

Heat increases the effect of standing water and also promotes the formation of algae.

Wrong cleaning agents

Vegetable oil is a proven remedy for mosquito larvae in the rain barrel. Nevertheless, the home remedy reduces the water quality and spreads unpleasant smells.

Avoid stink

  • Use wooden instead of plastic bins
  • Change water in dry periods
  • Clean the rain barrel regularly
  • Cover the rain barrel
  • Install the aerator
  • Aquatic plants

Use a wooden barrel

While plastic is not breathable, wood promotes air exchange.

Change water in dry periods

You should swap standing water before it tips over. Sometimes it is enough to just pour in new water.

Clean the rain barrel regularly

Regularly remove algae, leaves and animal droppings from the rain barrel. The best way to do this is to empty the bin before winter and to rearrange the bin in spring. But watch out, as mentioned above, not every cleaning agent is suitable.

Cover the rain barrel

A lid on the rain barrel protects against falling leaves and the stench from escaping. A fine-meshed grid also fulfills the former purpose.


Read here how to equip your rain barrel with a filter.

Aquatic plants

Some aquatic plants and fish species remove the nutrients from algae and thus prevent their growth.