Many home hydroponic systems are relatively small and cleaning them is really an on-going process. If you need to have a good clean out, the process will be slightly different for each type of system.
- Remove Dead Stock
- Keep your home hydroponics system clean by removing old leaves and plants regularly. Just doing this can avoid some insect infestations and the development of molds.
Don’t Keep Nutrient Solutions Too Long
If you make up a batch of nutrient solution and it has not been used up in seven days, throw it out. It is tempting to keep topping it up but there is a danger that it would become saturated and crystals start to form. Cleaning the container with bleach is recommended but only a 10% mixture with water. Always make sure the bleach has been washed out of the container before you use it again.
Always Clean Plant Pots
If you empty any plant pots or hydroponic containers clean them with a 10% bleach mixture as well. If you recover clay pellets or other support mediums you can try to clean them for re-use. It is doubtful that any savings will be worth the risk of using the mediums again.
If you empty a part of your system at any time take the opportunity to clean and sterilize it. Eventually you will rotate all of your system and will have cleaned all of it. Your 10% bleach solution is a universal cleaner suitable for most things.
If you see signs of algae developing try to isolate that part of your system so that you can apply an algaecide to clear it out. There are hydroponic conditioners that contain friendly microbes that help keep algae down and generally maintain the well being of the whole system.
If you have a large container that you can safely put to one side you can set up a sterile bath. You can put all the bits of hydroponic equipment that is not in use into the bath. The bath will contain a 10% bleach solution. Do not store anything in the bath that is at all absorbent.
Full System Clean
If you decide that you really should clean the whole system you have to have somewhere to put all the plants. They will survive for a day on the moisture they have but take special care of favorite or delicate plants. Once the plants are out of the way go through you hydroponics system and clean everything with your 10% bleach solution. When you have finished run water through the system to make sure you have flushed out all of the bleach. Set up a fresh feed solution and start to replace the plants. Examine each plant and its container carefully and clean them with clean water before replacing them in the system. This is also a good opportunity to weed out any plants that you no longer want.
Keeping your hydroponics clean on a daily basis is probably easier than trying to close the system down and doing a full system clean.