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I've always bottled my beers (haven't invested in a kegging setup yet), and I've never once used a bottle brush. I simply soak my bottles in OxyClean to clean them, give them a shake, then rinse, sanitize and bottle. I've never had infection problems or gunk in the bottles, even with ones that haven't been rinsed out directly after use.

Are bottle brushes really necessary, or are they more of a precautionary, "just-in-case" kind of thing?

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7 Answers 7

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Use a brush if you have solids in your bottles like if you picked up an empty case from the store and it had bits of lemon slices or cigarette butts. Also, from your own bottles look out for yeast if you didn't empty your bottles completely when you drank them.

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I've never used it, either. I tried once, but without soaking the bottle it was all but useless. And soaking provided all the clean I needed.

So no, I don't think they're necessary.

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I use a brush as part of my first-pass cleaning of all bottles coming into rotation.

My usual process is:

1) Clean the bottles:

  • Soak in OxyClean to remove the labels (which also adds lots of glue gunk to the water)
  • Rinse in clean water, then scrub inside and out to remove any remaining glue/yeast/etc.
  • Second quick rinse and shake
  • Box them for later use

2) Sanitize the clean bottles:

  • Soak in sanitizer
  • Drain and fill

After finishing a bottle it gets thoroughly rinsed and is ready for Step 2 again. Any bottles that aren't rinsed quickly go back through step 1

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I've also never used a brush. I have a bottle-cleaning attachment to my faucet that shoots a jet of water up into the bottle, which I've found removes all but the worst sediment. For those really bad bottles, I just soak overnight with a little bleach solution (or just toss the bottle, I'm lazy and there's only so much effort that can be justified for one old bottle!)

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I never invested in a brush. If I can't get something out of a bottle I don't sweat it and just throw it away. I usually have a constant influx of bottles that can replace it.

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When you say 'throw it away', you mean into a recycling bin, right? RIGHT!?! :-) –  Cj S. Jan 26 '11 at 15:53
    
Unfortunately, no, my city recycles everything EXCEPT glass. Fortunately, I rinse my bottles before I even drink the beer, so the last bottle I actually remember throwing away was a few years ago. –  Room3 Jan 27 '11 at 17:29
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I don't use a brush either. I've made a habit of rinsing out the bottles as soon as I finish drinking so that any residue does dry and harden against the inside of the bottle. Once they're clean, I rack them upside down in a box or 6-pack holder (I keep these for storing bottles). When bottling day comes around, I rinse all the bottles out again to remove any dust that may be in the bottle and sanitize. If there are labels on the bottle, I do a long soak the night before in soap detergent water. Hope that helps!

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I also have a bottle-cleaning attachment to my faucet that shoots a jet of water up into the bottle, which I've found removes all but the worst sediment. It works great!!

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