Homebrew Hacks: Scratch-Free Plastic Carboy Cleaning

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Clean Plastic Carboy

Plastic carboys are great. They are lightweight, virtually unbreakable and clear so you can watch the yeast at work. The trouble is, they can be a hassle to clean!

With plastic buckets, cleaning is not typically an issue since you can reach any troublesome areas by hand, but a plastic carboy does not allow for such convenience. On top of that, the usual carboy brushes used to clean glass carboys are a big no-no when cleaning plastic. The rough bristles and metal handle can cause scratches in the plastic, which can harbor bacteria and wild yeast that can spoil any beer that comes in contact with the plastic. So, how are you supposed to clean these things?

A nice long soak with your preferred cleaner is a good start, but that doesn’t always get the tough-to-clean spots like the krausen ring. Here’s a trick for this area that will allow you to clean the plastic without fear of scratching. All you need is a soft wash cloth!

Plastic Carboy Cleaning Tips

  • Choose a towel or cloth that is non-abrasive. Avoid anything with rough tags or stitching.
  • If using powdered cleaner, make sure it is fully dissolved before shaking the towel around. Non-dissolved powder cleaners can cause scratching if rubbed against plastic with a towel.
  • When fishing out the towel, don’t use any utensils that could cause scratching.

First, add a little cleanser and water to the dirty, plastic carboy. Wet a wash cloth and wring it out. Stick the towel through the mouth of the carboy until it is fully inside. If it is difficult to pass through the opening, it’s probably too big and will be difficult to remove. Look for something smaller.

With the cloth and a bit of cleanser inside the carboy, pick up the vessel and cover the top with your hand. Now shake rapidly, manipulating the motion of the cloth in the areas that need a good scrubbing. You will notice the solid material is scrubbed from the side of the carboy with out any scratches. Voila! That’s it.

When your done, turn the carboy upside down and get the towel to move towards the opening. If you can, fish it out with your fingers. If not, use a brewing or kitchen utensil to get enough out that you can get a grip it and pull it out.