ducks Extras

How Ducks Get Clean

Have you ever wondered how ducks get clean? Or perhaps, you’ve watched how they do it. Plus, is it the same as other birds? While we’re on the subject, do ducks get sick if they can’t get cleaned?

I realize my duck posts are typically more popular. However, I also know I don’t write about them as frequently. Although, one of my ducks deserves more to be said about her. So, I’ll try to remedy that in this article as I address how ducks get clean.

How Ducks Get Clean

duck preening on pond water
Photo by Aaron J Hill on
  • Preening

Preening is the regular, essential grooming practiced by birds to keep their feathers clean, healthy, and strong. 

© 2023 – Birdfact

All birds preen to maintain feathers by using their beaks to clean plumage and take care of parasites. Additionally, for aquatic birds, preening spreads oil from the preen gland with the beak over feathers to keep them waterproof.

grey duck submerging her head while both she and Mallard duck swim in a kiddie pool
  • Submersion

In addition, ducks will submerge their heads in water to clear out their eyes and nostrils.

  • Showers or rain

Yes, ducks love the rain. Very likely if you have ducks, you’ve seen them gamboling in the rain. Or, even if you’re watering with the hose, they’ll stand under that as well to get clean.

white Pekin dust bathing
Moments before, Bakugo was surrounded by her chicken friends.

Have you seen a duck dust bathing before? No, I’m not joking. Ducks will, at times, dust bathe. In fact, Bakugo, our Pekin, has been known to dust bathe with the chickens.

What Happens if Ducks Can’t and Don’t Clean Themselves

Ducks are known to be more resilient to sickness and pests than most other domestic birds. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t get sick. For instance, just by having an insufficient amount water for these birds can create issues, such as

wet white feather in close up shot
Photo by u0414u0435u043du0438u0441 u041du0430u0433u0430u0439u0446u0435u0432 on
  • wet feather

Another term for a duck’s feathers being water-logged is wet feather. And there are multiple thoughts as to the cause. But one of the reasons is having an inadequate water supply for your ducks.

digital art of duck with white stuff in its eye
Digital Art, Courtesy of Sarah Smith
  • foamy eye

Typically a duck that has foam or bubbles in its eyes has an underlying respiratory infection as well. Though, this condition is said to be preventable if ducks have sufficient water to submerge their heads in.

digital art of a white duck on a pink background with writing indicating the duck needs water
Digital Art, Courtesy of Sarah Smith
  • and dehydration

Whether it’s too cold or in the middle of a heat wave, outside animals, including ducks, are at-risk for dehydration. Furthermore, ducks can’t go ~ 8 hours without water. That’s how important it is to them.

Moreover, one of the most important reasons ducks need water is to drink while they eat. You see, they take a bite of food, then a sip of water, all so they don’t choke to death.

Things You Can do to Help Your Ducks Get Clean

caption of lightbulb
Photo by Pixabay on

Since ducks need water for their health and life, it’s absolutely essential to provide enough of it. However, for most commercial outfits, the struggle has been to find the right type of watering system for ducks. For example, if ducks are long exposed to wet litter in the coop, they end up getting diseased feet. So, that’s not an ideal situation either.

Therefore, to prevent this for your backyard ducks, try pasture-raising them. That way ducks can have all day access to water. And you won’t have to deal with the constant mess. Plus, they won’t be exposed to water-ridden litter, which breeds disease. In addition to that, get

  • shallow water pans or keep waterers by food

Keep water near food for ducks, so they don’t choke. Although, don’t leave any in the coop, because they can go overnight without water.

brown duck with 2 yellow ducklings near a rubber tub filled with water
We have this plus a kiddie pool for our ducks.
  • kiddie pool or small pond

Unless you just want to, you don’t have to get anything elaborate for your ducks. They will be totally ecstatic with a kiddie pool from WalMart. But, depending on how many ducks you have, you may need to get more than one.

Also, ducks poop, eat, drink, and clean themselves in their swimming hole. But they still require clean water to drink to be healthy. Therefore, at a minimum, clean out the swimming hole once daily.

In Conclusion

You saw that the main way ducks and all birds get clean is by preening. However, ducks prefer to add water to their routine as well. This is to prevent certain diseases and to remain waterproof. Moreover, if you have ducks, make sure to add waterers by their food to prevent choking. And get a kiddie pool for them too.