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I've been brewing for a couple years now, and lately my bottle collection has been more and more difficult to keep clean. I've always been thorough about rinsing the bottles with hot water immediately after pouring, and then turning them upside down to try in my dish rack. Lately, 3/4 or more of my bottles have been left with a hazy residue in the bottom even after that rinse.

Dirty: Dirty Clean: Clean

I've tried soaking them in OxyClean, StarSan, vinegar, and dish soap + water. My bottle jet doesn't seem to do anything to it, even after any of those soaks. The only thing that's been successful is using a bottle brush and lots of elbow grease. That was fine when I only had to scrub a few bottles per batch, but scrubbing almost all of them every time I bottle is getting tiring.

My brews have been extract + steeping grains, and partial boil (except a couple split boils). My water is moderately hard, about 5 gpg.

What is this residue, can I prevent it, and is there an easier way to clean it?

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Easy Off and/or TSP might do it when all else fails. – Glasseyed Aug 1 at 0:31
Have you tried rinsing the bottles with cold water after drinking? Is the film there immediately after rinsing the bottles, or does it appear only after drying? – Herb Tarlek Aug 1 at 1:02
@HerbTarlek, it's only visible after the bottles dry. And I've never tried rinsing with cold water. I still need to empty a few more before I bottle my next batch; I'll see if that makes a difference. – Simon Aug 1 at 4:16
maybe a really dumb question, but are you 100% sure this is on the inside of the bottles? I remember when I first started, I was scrubbing vigorously only to realize that the residue was on the bottom of the bottle...on the outside! upvote to oxy/TSP soak and rinsing immediately after use – Pietro Aug 6 at 13:07

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I get to do more bottle cleaning than I'd prefer these days, here are my favorite cleaners:

Percarbonate (oxyclean) + trisodium phosphate (mix at 2:1 ratio, 100g per 20L water). Dissolves label glue and 99% of dried on residues, after a day of soaking.

Undiluted (household strength) bleach. Removes all organics in a few minutes.

If your deposit is a mineral, an acid should work. I use a strong white vinegar (10% acetic) on my brewpot, softens up the minerals nicely, but they don't fall off without some scrubbing.

Last one, I haven't used it at home ever, but 0.1% HCl will make those bottles look like brand new. Handle with care.

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Sorry for abandoning this for so long. I had to go through another batch of bottles to try some new techniques. I re-visited the vinegar soak based on my hunch that the residue was mineral in nature. You're right -- it loosens the deposits but I still have to scrub. It looks like I'll have to eliminate the minerals at the source unless I decide to try stronger acids. For my most recent brew, I used bottled water. Hopefully that will eliminate these deposits! – Simon Sep 26 at 23:04

I fill each empty with a 20/80 bleach/water solution and allow to soak for a few hours (usually overnight). Come bottling day, I rinse each bottle with cold water before sanitising. Works like a charm.

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one should note that hcl on metal is bad it will eat right through it. so make sure you do it some place that is well ventilated. use gloves( latex), goggles you don't want it in your eyes. and a respirator. if you get it on your cloths you will end up with a hole in them. if your wondering where to get HCl . go to your local pool store and get maturic acid. they sell 28% and 31% acid.

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