Carboy Cleaning Dilemma

So I committed the cardinal sin of brewing (apart from not sanitizing properly to begin with). I didn’t clean up properly after myself, and now I’m paying the price.

One of our plastic buckets wasn’t sealing right anymore on our last batch. On an evening brew after the shops were closed, we ended up in a bind with nowhere for half our 10 gallon batch to go. We decided to do our primary fermentation in a carboy we had handy. Tons of people do it, even friends we’ve brewed with. It can’t be a bad idea, right

Well, when I moved to the secondary, I neglected to clean the carboy immediately. Those of you who have brewed before probably know what happened from there. I got me a ring o’ yeast I couldn’t get rid of.

My lovely wife purchased a carboy jet washer, and although it did a great job on the bottom two thirds of the carboy, it didn’t have quite the right angle to up at the top where the worst smears were. With another batch in primary needing a move soon, I needed that carboy back. But even after soaking for days and applying the jet, I couldn’t get it all out.

Come that thar intrawebs to the rescue. I found lots of references to similar tools to my jet, lots of notes to clean things promptly (yeah, I know now), and then I stumbled onto this reference to “super clean carboys”.

The gist is to put a quarter cup of rice, a couple tablespoons of baking soda in, and then add just enough water to slosh around. This agitating mixture has enough grit to get even that stubborn yeast off.

Bingo! With a few minutes worth of elbow grease, the carboy was clean as a whistle. Don’t know quite what I would have done if I hadn’t found that.

So here’s a shout out to the Cross Street Irregulars Brew Club. You saved my brew!

15 thoughts on “Carboy Cleaning Dilemma

  1. Thank-you sooooo much! I had the same issue and you have helped me out more than you will ever know! I always hated using an excess of chemicals to try to clean.

  2. thanks a lot, internet!
    Now I've got rice all in my carboy.

    No, but really, this was simple and it worked quite well. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Thanks so much! This really got me out of a bind. Got two free carboys but I had to clean them, and wow, I didn't realize what I was getting in to. But now I have two clean carboys, and more space to put the brew!

  4. Unfortunately, for really bad cases, I haven't found anything easier than the approach I wrote about here. Typically cleaning the carboys still stacks up as my least favorite part of brewing, but what are you gonna do?

  5. Holy moly! It's been said, but maybe another comment will help the unenlightened find the answer. Best way to clean a carboy!
    I suspect the baking soda's pH to be a big factor in its effectiveness. I assume dried on wine gunk is still pretty acidic, thus reacting to baking soda.
    Great tip! Thanks!

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