Homemade Carboy Cleaner

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A carboy is a large glass or plastic bottle with a very narrow neck used for making beer and wine. Carboys come in several sizes, usually between three and seven gallons. Carboys must be meticulously cleaned and sanitized before fermentation to prevent bad tastes from getting into the beer or wine.

Types of Carboys

  • Glass carboys are heavier and more expensive than plastic carboys, but it is easier to clean them and completely remove odors that can affect the taste of the brew. While a plastic carboy is easier to handle, it is also more vulnerable to small scratches on the inside that can trap odor and bacteria. The opaque walls of a plastic carboy can make it difficult to see any built-up dirt or residue.

Carboy Sanitation

  • It’s crucial to clean the carboy immediately after using it to remove the rings of built-up residue while they're soft. Before putting wine or beer into a carboy to ferment, the container must be carefully sanitized because bacteria can negatively affect the fermentation process and change the taste of the brew. Home brewing supply stores sell carboy cleaner, but these can be expensive for home brewers.

Carboy Cleaning Supplies

  • The neck of the carboy is too narrow to get your hand inside, so you’ll need a long wire brush with a handle that can be bent to different angles in order to reach all through the inside of the bottle. For stubborn stains, drop an extra cloth into the bottle and use the brush to push the cloth around. For an abrasive cleaner, a handful of rice, sand, or ball-bearings are all effective against residue.

    Make your own carboy cleaning solution by mixing a cup of water, a cup of hydrogen peroxide, and a quarter cup of baking soda. A 1:4 solution of bleach and water will sanitize the carboy right before you use it. If you have a glass carboy, do not clean it with very hot water, or you risk cracking the glass.

Cleaning the Carboy

  • Mix the water, peroxide, baking soda, and your chosen abrasive directly in the bottle and swirl it around the bottom and sides for several minutes. Use the brush and rag to scrub off any remaining stains and crusted yeast. If there are still stains, you can leave the solution to soak in the carboy by laying it on its side on a towel so the solution sits on the stain. Turn the bottle every 30 minutes or so to reach all of the stains.

    Sanitize the carboy with the diluted bleach solution. Pour a cup of water and a quarter cup of bleach into the bottle and swirl it all around the inside. Pour some of the solution into a cloth and wash the outside of the carboy. Let the bleach sit for about 10 minutes, then rinse the carboy thoroughly with clean water.

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