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I'm concerned about cleaning my fermenter with PBW. The crystals seem hard & sharp and take a while to dissolve. I don't want to scratch the bucket. Am I doing it wrong?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

As long as you do not begin abrasive scrubbing until the PBW crystals are dissolved, PBW should not be a problem.

Let me differentiate between HDPE plastic bucket fermenters and PET carboys (like Better Bottle).

I find that I don't need anything other than hot tap water, a soft sponge, and a slight amount of elbow grease to clean HDPE bucket fermenters. Exposure to PBW for a short time shouldn't hurt.

But it is not recommended to use PBW or Oxy-based cleaners for PET carboys because it causes stress corrosion, and eventually will lead to clouding or failure of the PET carboy.

Better Bottle recommends using Free & Clear Natural 2X Seventh Generation detergent, an enzyme based cleaner in this study of the effects of various cleansers. What works for me is adding a small amount of hot tap water, a small amount of cleanser, and a washcloth, and rolling the carboy on the counter or floor. The washcloth rubs off all of the krausen rings.

Edit: it is not recommended to use PBW or Oxy on PET.

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I assume you mean it is NOT recommend for PET carboys? – uSlackr Jul 27 '14 at 17:16
I fixed the error above. – Chino Brews Jul 27 '14 at 20:58
Although this research does not mention sodium percarbonate directly, it does say "limited resistance to hot water andwashing soda (sodium carbonate)." scribd.com/doc/104244759/… – Dale Jul 28 '14 at 14:14
My experience with plastic water bottles (that probably are PET) is that very hot water and OxiClean over night will sometimes cause a crack to form, making the bottle useless. – Dale Jul 28 '14 at 14:17

No, dissolved/dissolving PBW will not scratch your plastic fermenters.

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I do just with room temp water, my blichmann boil kettle I usually get the water around 140-160F

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