How to Clean a Cat Water Fountain (Stop Slime in 4 Easy Steps!)

Using a cat water fountain has many advantages, including the ability to feed your pet with fresh, clean water at any time of the day and the ability to give your pet the appetite to drink water from the stream of flowing water.

However, this all comes at a cost as the main real difference between a cat water fountain and a cat bowl is that the cleaning process is a lot more difficult with a fountain compared to a bowl. With a bowl, all you must do is rinse the bowl and wipe it with a towel. With a water fountain, you will have to take apart some parts and do a bit more than rinsing and wiping. Make sure it is clean for your pet to use.

Luckily in this article, you will learn the easiest and simplest way to clean your fountain. So that your pet will be drinking out of a fountain that is clean and well maintained.

Quick Facts:

  • Over 320,000 pets in the US were exposed to something poisonous or dangerous in 2021 and called the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline for help. That’s over 876 per day (source).
  • Over 120,000 dogs and 20,400 cats were poisoned last year and admitted to the vet in the UK (source)
  • If you think your pet has eaten something dangerous call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435

Note: If you click some of the links or pictures in this article we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

cat water fountain with yellow flower and orange cat

Process of Cleaning a Cat Water Fountain

  1. First, drain your fountain of all the water. This includes water in the canals and the main tank unit of the device. This is so that when we take apart the fountain itself to reach the motor, the water won’t flood anywhere.
  2. Second, take out the main tank unit of the fountain, so that you can access the motor of the fountain. After this is done, take out the motor and you should be done with disassembly at this point unless you have a fountain that is a bit more complex. For more complex fountains, we recommend that you read the manual or watch a few videos online, as each model has different steps to disassemble.
  3. Third, disassemble the motor unit by taking the front-facing panel out using your fingernails if necessary. After this is taken out, you should be able to see the main rotating motor unit inside. This motor unit should be easier to take out than the front-facing panel. It is secured using magnets and not as airtight as the front-facing panel as its job is to keep the water out.
  4. Lastly, rinse the debris inside the motor after taking out the rotating motor unit. Then the motor can run without any debris inside to disturb it. Clean the other parts of the fountain that were disassembled earlier. Most of the fountain units these days are washable by using your dishwasher, so we recommend that you do so if you don’t want to wash it yourself.

How to Clean the Hommii Pet Water Fountain

Cleaning the Catit Flower Water Fountain

Warning about water

Please do note that if you are going to be using the dishwasher to wash the disassembled pieces of the fountain, you should wash it by itself and not with any of your other dishes. This is to prevent any diseases or bacteria from spreading onto your plates and possibly onto you if your pet did have them in their body. This is especially important if you know your pet is sick, as it will most definitely transfer over to your plates and silverware.

Once the pieces are all rinsed and dried out, assemble them the same way that you disassembled them. Fill the water to the maximum and you have just cleaned your fountain most simply and efficiently possible. As you only must wash your fountain every few weeks or every other week, we recommend that you wash your fountain according to our directions above, as it will make sure that everything is cleaned.

Get Our #1 Easy, Homemade Dog Food Recipe (Vet-Approved), 100% Free!!! Click to get it NOW!

blue plastic cat water fountain with cat drinking

How Often Should You Clean A Cat Water Fountain?

You’ll want to clean your cat fountain at least once a week. If possible also change out the water 2-3 times a week to reduce slime. If your unit comes with a filter, replace that at least once every two months, the same as you would with your Brita filter.

Laura Nassoura of has a few tips to share based on her cat Oya’s experience with their fountain:

Here are the top reasons to switch a cat to a water fountain:
– Filtration: Most water fountains include a charcoal/antibacterial
filter that removes debris, hair, and bacteria from water.
– Improves cat’s hydration: Cats prefer running water over standing
water, which means they will drink more and stay hydrated.

One reason not to get a water fountain:
– Cats like to play with running water so it can get a bit messy.

Hommi cat water fountain with black and white cat drinking

How Do You Clean A Drinkwell 360 Water Fountain?

First, you’ll want to unplug the unit completely from the wall. You can then disassemble the components by pushing your fingers against the sides of the seam on the side of the Drinkwell fountain.

Gently apply pressure until the water intake tube pulls away from the motor. Set the motor housing aside and clean the bowl just like you would clean any of your own dishes.

In fact, some pet owners have found that you can put it on the top rack of a dishwasher if you’re very careful!

Using every bit as much care, take off the impeller blades from the motor. You’ll want to make sure you don’t touch the edges since they’re sharp.

You can normally clean all these pieces individually as though they were silverware, though you shouldn’t ever put the motor housing itself in the wash.

PetSafe Stainless 360 Pet Fountain - 1 Gallon (128 oz) Dog and Cat Water Fountain - Water Filters Remove Hair - Water Dispenser Entices Pets to Drink - Customizable Cat and Dog Water Bowl Dispenser

Get Our #1 Easy, Homemade Dog Food Recipe (Vet-Approved), 100% Free!!! Click to get it NOW!

How Do You Clean A Big Dog Fountain?

The actual disassembly process is almost the same! Once you have the unit apart, you can probably wipe most of the stainless steel components clean with a cloth.

Owners of messier dogs recommend periodically using a small bit of white vinegar to clean the impeller a bit more thoroughly.

PetSafe ZWW00 -16558 Pet Water Fountain, 2 gallon

How To Clean Drinkwell Mini Pet Fountain?

Mini fountains normally come apart rather easily because of their size, but it’s hard to take off the stator on most of them. This is a teardrop-shaped piece of plastic that’s right underneath the intake plate.

Once you use the same process to clean the bigger parts, you can slide your fingernail under the little lip and pull very gently. You’ll be able to remove the stator and clean any surfaces below.

PetSafe Drinkwell Mini Pet Fountain for Cats and Small Dogs, 40 oz Capacity Water Dispenser with Filter Included, PWW00-14402

How To Prevent Slime In Your Pet Water Fountain?

The best way to prevent slime in your cat’s water fountain is to install a filter below the bowl that traps hair and particles that can lead to slimes.

It is important to clean and empty the water bowl regularly as well. Change out the water at least once every 2-3 days during hot weather because it will hold onto odors and bacteria if not frequently cleaned. The splash guard should also be cleaned out often since any dirt settles in between the spout opening where shampoo or dish soap slips through into the basin of untreated water from which your cat drinks. And always remember that tap water will include chlorine which will help kill the bacteria that causes slime; however, that very small amount of chlorine in the tap will dissipate within a few hours so the more you change the water the better.

Why does my cat’s water fountain get slimy?

The slime found in cat’s water bowls or fountains is caused by a buildup of biofilm and saliva. Biofilm is a protective barrier that microorganisms produce to hide from the elements. Every time your cat drinks they are adding both saliva and new bacteria to the water. The saliva also acts as a food source for the microorganisms in your cat’s bowl, allowing them to reproduce and create even more slime.

Get Our #1 Easy, Homemade Dog Food Recipe (Vet-Approved), 100% Free!!! Click to get it NOW!

How To Clean A Stainless Steel Pet Fountain?

Slime is a bacterial film that starts to form as a result of microorganisms falling into your pet’s water supply. Sounds gross?

It is.

Changing the water weekly is the best way to prevent slime from growing in the first place. You’ve probably seen a whole mess of products that claim to do the job for you.

They don’t do much good in most cases, and might even make your dog sick! Don’t buy into any of the hype.

If you’re really concerned, then buy a pet fountain that’s FDA approved to ensure clean surfaces. Stainless steel, porcelain and hospital grade plastic will all slow down the growth rate of slime.

How To Clean A Ceramic Pet Fountain?

In most cases, disassembling a ceramic pet fountain isn’t much different from taking apart a plastic one.

The big benefit, though, is the fact you can clean the bowl like any other ceramic bowl.

That means you can clean it with warm water and dish detergent. Once you’re done, you’ll want to make sure to rinse it thoroughly.

What To Do When Your Drinkwell Mini Pet Fountain Stopped Working?

While it might sound stupid, make sure the cord is plugged in and the unit is on. Excited pets sometimes jerk their fountains out of the wall.

Get Our #1 Easy, Homemade Dog Food Recipe (Vet-Approved), 100% Free!!! Click to get it NOW!

If that’s not the problem, then carefully ensure the unit is totally off and unplug it before disassembling it and looking for any potential signs of a clog.

If you still can’t fix it we recommend this stainless steel fountain by Wonder Creature. It’s filtered and easy to clean plus it comes with the brushes you need to do the job. It’s sturdy and if the pump ever breaks you can pickup a new one directly from them here instead of buying a whole new fountain.

Cat Water Fountain Stainless Steel, 81oz/2.4L Cat Fountain with Smart Pump and LED Indicator for Water Shortage Alert, Cat and Dog Fountain with 3 Filters, 1 Mat and 2 Cleaning Brushes

Wonder Creature Cat Water Fountain Pump, Replacement Pump for Round, Cubic and Crystal Cat Water Fountain, Pet Fountain Pump

How To Clean A Plastic Cat Fountain?

While you’ll want to clean a plastic cat fountain the same way you would any other pet fountain, you often can’t use extremely hot water to do so. The plastic on many models is just too soft.

Use warm water and make sure to scrub it clean. Standard detergent often works as long as you rinse well.

What To Do When Your Cat Water Fountain Gets Slimy?

Dump all of the water out, clean the unit like normal and let the entire thing dry before filling it again. Slime is caused by colonies of bacteria, and in doing so there’s a good chance that you’ll take take care of the bacteria in the process.

Cleaning the fountain on a weekly basis will normally prevent the growth of any film in the first place.


Cleaning your pet’s water fountain is the first step that you can take to ensure that your pet is healthy and is drinking clean water. Make sure that you do everything carefully, so that you get all the debris and possible germs inside, so that your pet doesn’t drink any of it if it does get mixed into the water. We hope that this article will allow you to clean your fountain a lot easier and simpler!

Get Our #1 Easy, Homemade Dog Food Recipe (Vet-Approved), 100% Free!!! Click to get it NOW!

This was a guest post by Alex Brown, from Check out more information on the best cat water fountains from his site!

Bonus: How to Clean a Cat Water Fountain Pump

Over time cat fountain pumps can buildup hard water deposits and get clogged or slimy with bacteria as well. Follow these steps to clean any cat fountain pump:

  1. Disassemble the fountain and remove the pump (if possible for your unit – if not you can clean it in place).
  2. Open the pump and remove the impeller (this is possible with the PetSafe fountain but may not be possible for all units – don’t break it by forcing it open).
  3. Use soap, warm water, and a small brush to clean the inside of the pump and the impeller.
  4. Check for hard water deposits (white powerdery crusts). If present soak the unit in a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water for 15 minutes. Then use the brush to scrub off the deposits. Rinse thoroughly with distilled water.
  5. Reassemble the fountain and add distilled water. Let it run for 15 minutes. Remove the distilled water and replace with filtered water then turn it on for your cat to use. The distilled water has none of the chemicals that cause hard water deposits so should be used as a final rinse. Never leave distilled water for your cat to drink though. It isn’t harmful but doesn’t have minerals needed for optimal cat health.

How to Clean a Cat Water Fountain