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Brewed my first two batches this month and still trying to figure this process out. I'm using a couple (similar to this, but maybe not the same material) buckets (with spigots) for fermenting. They worked really well and sealed great but after cleaning them, they both still smell like beer. I used Oxiclean and hot water the first time and removed anything that was stuck on the sides with a soft sponge. Thought that would do it but a few days later the bucket still smelled like fermenting wort. Weird. It looks spotless. I haven't scratched the inside as far as I know and the only things that have touched the inside are beer, the spigot, a sponge and oxiclean. I decided to duct tape over the bucket hole, disassemble the spigot entirely, and drop everything in a full bucket of Oxiclean and hot water for a few days to soak. Even after rinsing both buckets a few times, the smell has lessened but still quite noticeable. I'm thinking I may need to bleach it or find a stronger cleaner. Is the aroma issue just typical of plastic buckets or do I need to up my cleaning game?

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    PBW is your friend. Oxyclean is a sanitizing cleaner. PBW cleans out the gunk. Try that. – farmersteve Jul 29 at 19:03
  • @farmersteve - Thanks again. I'm going to give PBW a try as an experiment vs. the Oxyclean. If Oxyclean isn't up to the task, there's no point in trying to cut corners using it as a brewing cleanser. If PBW can't get the stank out, then maybe this is just the bane of plastic fermenters (as brewchez mentions below). – HomeBrew Jul 30 at 20:13
  • Just an update for anyone else wondering about this. I tried a gallon solution of PBW, lid on, shook for a couple minutes and let it soak for 20 mins. After hot water rinsing and drying out for a day I don't notice any change. Kind of surprising as I've used PBW for cleaning kegerator equipment before. If PBW can't get it out, it ain't comin' out. As brewchez mentions below, this must just be the bane of plastic brewing equipment. Cheers. – HomeBrew Aug 2 at 10:52
  • If you really want to try and get the smell out a long soak in warm water dosed with baking soda is the best bet. Use as much as can dissolve in the water. Just don't rough up the bucket by banging the sides while stirring or whatnot. Let it sit covered in the sun all day. That usually takes some aroma out...but its not necessary. Cheers! – brewchez Aug 3 at 13:56
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Its ok. If you keep making beer in it the slight smell won't make your next beer smell any more of less beery than the last one. Its plastic and it absorbs odors. Perfectly normal. There is no reason to think you need to get all that smell out of there. Brew beer and if you start getting contamination due to microbial issues then you've got something to worry about. Doesn't sound like you are there yet.

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I get a similar issue with the bucket I use for bottling (I use a glass carboy for fermenting). I am still using the bucket with the usual cleaning straight after use and sanitizing prior to use with no adverse issue to my batches so far. I'm not sure smell is something you necessarily need to worry about if your bucket is visibly clean (no visible deposits, no scratches,...) and you sanitize properly.

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