Author Topic: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?  (Read 2995 times)

Offline haeffnkr

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 48
    • View Profile
Hi,
Like the topic states....
I have had a bad run this past summer and have had 4 batches that have gotten just a bit of belgian/lacto/funk in them. 

I have these nice plastic 14 gallon fermenters w/ screw lids that cost $40 a piece.
Can you bleach bomb or whatever else a plastic fermenter to get it sanitized again or is the recommendation just by new and forget about the old ones?

thanks haeffnkr

Offline Stevie

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6858
    • View Profile
Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2017, 06:11:13 PM »
Have you tried iodophor? Plastic fermenters are great, but they don’t last forever.

Online dmtaylor

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3444
  • Two Rivers, WI
    • View Profile
    • Manty Malters - Meet the Malters! - Dave Taylor
Re: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2017, 06:57:28 PM »
NO -- I have ruined MANY batches using permanently contaminated plastic buckets.  Need to replace them every so often, or switch to glass or stainless.  Some plastic maybe can be sanitized, but some can definitely NOT.  It's just not worth the risk.  Replace and be done with it.
Dave

The world will become a much more pleasant place to live when each and every one of us realizes that we are all idiots.

Offline haeffnkr

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 48
    • View Profile
Re: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2017, 07:17:10 PM »
thanks guys... I figured to replace but wanted to be sure I was not missing something.


To Note - the bad beer was not coming from the fermenters, as I had one batch go bad in a brand new fermenter.

thanks haeffnkr



Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • Retired with too much time on my hands
  • *****
  • Posts: 19934
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2017, 07:47:16 PM »
Yeah, I have successfully recovered from your situation.   It's at least worth a try before tossing them.  Clean them thoroughly, then put in a strong bleach solution and let them sit a couple days.  Empty put the bleach, rinse thoroughly and let sit in the sun a couple days to dissipate the bleach.  Sanitize them with Iodophor, which kills wild yeast.  It's worked for me and hopefully it will work for you.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

Offline flars

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
    • View Profile
Re: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2017, 08:08:55 PM »
thanks guys... I figured to replace but wanted to be sure I was not missing something.


To Note - the bad beer was not coming from the fermenters, as I had one batch go bad in a brand new fermenter.

thanks haeffnkr

Look for the piece of equipment that hasn't been dismantled for a thorough cleaning that is transferring the infection to the fermentors.

Offline Joe Sr.

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4383
  • Chicago - NORTH SIDE
    • View Profile
Re: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2017, 08:32:36 PM »
NO -- I have ruined MANY batches using permanently contaminated plastic buckets.  Need to replace them every so often, or switch to glass or stainless.  Some plastic maybe can be sanitized, but some can definitely NOT.  It's just not worth the risk.  Replace and be done with it.

This is not entirely true.  I've had an infected batch in a better bottle and have used it many times since.

You need to take care when cleaning and sanitizing to be sure you're thorough and also to make sure you're not scratching the plastic.

I personally would not switch back to glass.  Not worth the risk IMO once I cracked one real good while cleaning it.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline haeffnkr

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 48
    • View Profile
Re: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2017, 09:01:48 PM »
NO -- I have ruined MANY batches using permanently contaminated plastic buckets.  Need to replace them every so often, or switch to glass or stainless.  Some plastic maybe can be sanitized, but some can definitely NOT.  It's just not worth the risk.  Replace and be done with it.

This is not entirely true.  I've had an infected batch in a better bottle and have used it many times since.

You need to take care when cleaning and sanitizing to be sure you're thorough and also to make sure you're not scratching the plastic.

I personally would not switch back to glass.  Not worth the risk IMO once I cracked one real good while cleaning it.

Did you also use a bleach solution to recover the better bottle?

thanks haeffnkr

Offline Joe Sr.

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4383
  • Chicago - NORTH SIDE
    • View Profile
Re: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2017, 09:23:01 PM »
I don't recall (it's been years) but I don't think so.  It is possible, but I think that bleach stains the better bottles white if you use it so probably not.

I typically rotate my sanitation between idophor and star san.  My guess is that I did a strong idophor solution.  I was concerned at the time that I would need to toss the bottle, but it has worked well since and I no longer know for sure which one it is.  It's in the regular rotation with my other better bottles.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline kgs

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 967
  • Sonoma County, CA
    • View Profile
Re: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2017, 12:02:56 PM »
The lids could be an issue, depending on their design. The "fermenters" I use (food-grade plastic buckets) have lids that have ridges and crannies that require extra attention. Concur on breaking down anything assembled. I admit I was several kegging batches in before I realized keg valves could (and should) be disassembled for cleaning.
K.G. Schneider
AHA Member

Offline reverseapachemaster

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3207
    • View Profile
    • Brain Sparging on Brewing
Re: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2017, 02:41:34 PM »
Yes, provided you follow the right procedure. I regularly use the same bottling equipment between clean, sour and brett beers. It's all plastic. No problems with crossover after sanitation. You need to use a base sanitizer rather than an acid sanitizer like star-san because a high ph will kill off bacteria and yeast but acid sanitizers are far less effective on yeast. Bleach is an easy base sanitizer. If you have idophor, that will also work.

I use 1 tbsp bleach to 1 gallon of water. Sit twenty minutes, then rinse with hot water. Soak in hot water with a crushed campden tablet per five gallons of water for twenty minutes. Rinse and let dry. The campden will remove the chlorine from the plastic so there's no carryover flavor/aroma from the bleach.

Heck yeah I blog about homebrewing: Brain Sparging on Brewing

Offline haeffnkr

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 48
    • View Profile
Re: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2017, 04:40:38 PM »
Yes, provided you follow the right procedure. I regularly use the same bottling equipment between clean, sour and brett beers. It's all plastic. No problems with crossover after sanitation. You need to use a base sanitizer rather than an acid sanitizer like star-san because a high ph will kill off bacteria and yeast but acid sanitizers are far less effective on yeast. Bleach is an easy base sanitizer. If you have idophor, that will also work.

I use 1 tbsp bleach to 1 gallon of water. Sit twenty minutes, then rinse with hot water. Soak in hot water with a crushed campden tablet per five gallons of water for twenty minutes. Rinse and let dry. The campden will remove the chlorine from the plastic so there's no carryover flavor/aroma from the bleach.

I have read that adding vinegar helps change the ph and makes the solution even more effective in sanitizing.
Do you add it also?

thanks haeffnkr

Offline Joe Sr.

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4383
  • Chicago - NORTH SIDE
    • View Profile
Re: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2017, 04:42:58 PM »
I think vinegar and bleach = toxic gas.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I wouldn't mix the two.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline haeffnkr

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 48
    • View Profile
Re: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2017, 04:52:06 PM »
I think vinegar and bleach = toxic gas.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I wouldn't mix the two.

Source -

http://beerliever.com/bleach-no-rinse-sanitiser-home-brewing-beer/

The numbers Charlie Talley gives in the podcast are:
Standard bleach is 50000 parts per million of the active ingredient.
1 oz of bleach  in 5 gallons of water = 80 parts per million of chlorine
80 ppm is all you need provided you match it with vinegar (equal measures).  This should be white vinegar preferably.
So the ratio is 5 gallons water: 1oz bleach:  1oz vinegar.  Never mix bleach and vinegar together before adding to the water because you will produce chlorine gas.  This is why people are afraid to use bleach- people get scared, but if you mix the bleach into the water, and then add the vinegar, this is perfectly safe.  Personally I think this is simpler than the brewing process itself.

thanks haeffnkr

Online dmtaylor

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3444
  • Two Rivers, WI
    • View Profile
    • Manty Malters - Meet the Malters! - Dave Taylor
Re: Can you clean and sanitize a plastic fermenter that had a bad batch?
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2017, 04:53:32 PM »
I think vinegar and bleach = toxic gas.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I wouldn't mix the two.

You are correct.  This combination generates chlorine gas.  Let's not kill ourselves to save some effing plastic.
Dave

The world will become a much more pleasant place to live when each and every one of us realizes that we are all idiots.