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hepcat
02-09-2012, 10:11 PM
A couple of questions re cleaning and sanitizing bottles:

Do you clean and sanitize them right before you bottle?

Note: I have aquired 13 used claret 750ml bottles which I have scraped all of the labels and glue off of and cleaned them once. Have not sanitized yet.

And does anybody have any clever way of storing clean, sanitized bottles until you are ready to use them without shelling out almost $30 for one of those christmas tree type racks?

Thanks.

tatgeer
02-10-2012, 12:06 AM
I clean in advance and store in boxes, then sanitize just before bottling.

Well, I try to remember to clean in advance. Sometimes it all happens day-of. :)

maykal
02-10-2012, 12:11 AM
Hi there,

Yes, you have to both clean and sanatize the bottles. I usually clean bottles right after drinking (talking more about homemade beers here). Pour the contents out, rince the bottle thoroughly, leave to drain. If you don't do that, the sediment it a pain in the butt to get out once it's hardened (you're into scrubbing with bottle brush territory).

Also, you can reuse the bottles again and again, so you only have to get the labels off the one time. Wine bottle labels are harder to get off than beer bottles. Of course, you don't have to remove the labels at all if you don't want. Or maybe just remove a few so you have a couple of nice looking bottles to give away as gifts. Alternatively, you can store the mead in beer bottles. I'm planning to bottle my first batch in 500ml beer bottles, or even some 33cl bottles - 70cl is possibly too much for one sitting (my other half hardly drinks) and also, as it's a pretty unusual drink here, lots of friends will want samples - better to give them 33cl samples first, until they know if they like it.

Once you've cleaned the bottles, store them away (if you can get your hands on some crates they help stacking). You have to sterilize them right before you fill them, however, otherwise there's the chance that nasties will get inside again. Even if you put tops on, you'll be sealing a load of air in their and you don't know what's in the air...

As for draining, I'd say splash out on the draining tree whenever you have the cash. I didn't have one, stood bottles upside down on the sideboard to drain instead, one clumsy moment, domino effect...need I say more? :(

The tree is well worth it. I suppose you could A-Team together your own one with some pieces of dowling.

Midnight Sun
02-10-2012, 12:20 AM
I have a fried who uses his baby's bottle rack as a brew bottle dryer. That might be a cheaper alternative than a rack from your LHBS.

Otherwise, you might be able to gin something up with lumber and dowl rods like maykal suggests. Just be sure to use untreated lumber.

veritas
02-10-2012, 01:52 AM
The cost of that drying tree is worth it IMHO. Breaks down for storage holds a lot of bottles is very easy to clean and sanitize it self. Very useful tool. I don't have the sanitizer injector for the top of the tree though just use a spray bottle with star san mixed up.

akueck
02-10-2012, 03:56 AM
+1 on the bottle tree, they are super handy. If you do get the spray injector thing, do not use it with normal StarSan. It foams up like mad and you'll create a giant tower of bubbles (which looks cool but then falls over and goes everywhere). [Can you tell this has happened to me?] You can get the non-foaming kind or use Iodophor.

I try to clean bottles ahead of time. Usually I clean more bottles than I need for a current batch, and then I have some clean ones ready to go for next time. I usually put a little foil over the top to keep the dust out. Sanitizing I always do immediately before bottling.

jkane
02-10-2012, 09:38 AM
I have friends who bottle. They say use the rack on a dish washer for drying. One even used the dishwasher to sanitize them. Not sure I agree that will get inside the bottles very well though!

Loadnabox
02-10-2012, 10:16 AM
For my beer bottles:

I rinse them after use. If they're "new" with brand labels I will put them in a specific crate for later label removal.

Once I have enough bottle together, I'll run them through the dishwasher. Mind you I don't have a full size dishwasher but a countertop model so I can only get about 2 doz bottles into it.

Once out of the dishwasher I'll put them into a plastic bin in the garage.

On bottling day, I fill one side of my sink with 2.5 gallons of iodophor solution (diluted per instructions of course). The other side of the sink I use with a faucet attachment for bottle rinsing. I use the regular kitchen sprayer to give the outside a quick rinse down. I use the faucet attachment to give the inside a quick rinse down (remove any dust accumulation etc) then dunk immerse the entire bottle in sanitizer. While one bottle is soaking in sanitizer I repeat the rinse process with another.

Once out of the sanitizer bath I have a pair of standard kitchen dish rack that holds about 35 bottles at a time. I stack them in there to drip dry out. Once I have what I consider to be enough bottles ready I fill 'em up capping as I go.

This just happens to be the method I worked out for myself. I never got advice on the "right" way to do it, so who knows if my process has flaws. (I'm fairly inexperienced too at bottling, only done three batches so far)

For my wine bottles:

I try to scrape all the labels in a single day since they're such a complete PITA. I will generally give a cursory rinse when done (fill partly with water and drain), but will wash and sanitize the day of bottling since my dishwasher can't fit them and putting the rinse adapter on the sink is also a pita (and drives the SWMBO insane) it's better to just do it all once.

hepcat
02-10-2012, 10:33 AM
Thank you all very much for your input! I have all of my used bottles cleaned up and labels removed and are storing them up side down until I need them in one of those plastic crates you can get for cheap at walmart. I put a piece of cardboard on the bottom of it then a layer of paper towels. The crates hold about 15 bottles.

YogiBearMead726
02-10-2012, 12:19 PM
+1 on covering the openings of clean bottles with aluminum foil until they are needed. Having cats, I know that their hair gets everywhere, so I started doing this as soon as I started collecting and reusing bottles.

The foil is a good way to keep unwanted nasties out, is relatively cheap, and you can reuse it or recycle it. I've even seen commercial breweries use it because it's effective and low cost for keeping things sterile/dirt and dust free until you need to use them.

And like others have said, as long as you rinse and clean all bottles before storage, all you should need at bottling time is a quick rinse on the outside (to wash off any dust accumulated from storage...I personally don't like the idea of dirty bottles going into clean sanitizer) and then a dip in your preferred no-rinse sanitizer.

PitBull
02-10-2012, 12:54 PM
+1 on the bottle tree, they are super handy. If you do get the spray injector thing, do not use it with normal StarSan. It foams up like mad and you'll create a giant tower of bubbles (which looks cool but then falls over and goes everywhere). [Can you tell this has happened to me?] You can get the non-foaming kind or use Iodophor.

I try to clean bottles ahead of time. Usually I clean more bottles than I need for a current batch, and then I have some clean ones ready to go for next time. I usually put a little foil over the top to keep the dust out. Sanitizing I always do immediately before bottling.
I'm going to have to get the spray attachment and give iodine base solution a try.

I typically clean bottles the night before with soap, water and bottle brush. Then I rinse and completely fill them with a peroxide based cleaner such as OneStep. Since peroxides require 15 minutes of contact time to sanitize, overnight is overkill, but convenient for my proposes. It also cleans out any red wine residue that might have escaped the soap, water and elbow grease. Since the bottles are filled to the top, there is no room for anything to get into the bottle. However, I cover them with plastic wrap as an extra measure.

The next morning I merely empty the bottles, put them on the tree to drain and then bottle.

Lawpaw
02-10-2012, 01:08 PM
I've used the dishwasher to sanitize. It's the heat that sanitizes, so nothing needs to make it into the bottle. Just clean first.

jkane
02-10-2012, 01:22 PM
Goo B Gone and a Scotch pad removes the gummy stuff left when scraping labels off.

Robusto
02-10-2012, 01:28 PM
I use the dishwasher- I don't use detergent, just a half a cup of bleach or so and high heat dry. I figure between the bleach, the high temp water and the high heat drying that they are sanitized at least as well as I could do with a brush. Been doing that for over 20 batches and no problems yet.

Loadnabox
02-10-2012, 02:59 PM
I've used the dishwasher to sanitize. It's the heat that sanitizes, so nothing needs to make it into the bottle. Just clean first.

It still concerns me

Dishwashers harbor deadly bacteria (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2006329/Dishwasher-fungi-Dr-Polona-Zalar-finds-deadly-bacteria-household-appliances.html)


Goo B Gone and a Scotch pad removes the gummy stuff left when scraping labels off.

I find an sos pad works really well and are dirt cheap. I can get a whole box of the generic ones for $1 in the states (at the dollar store)

The really hard part is getting the label to come off in the first place. I still haven't found a method that I like.

Clothes detergent didn't work very well
Boiling had almost no effect
dishwasher made a giant mess and didn't remove it very well
wallpaper remover was about as effective as a long soak in plain water

I need to try some oxy clean still, many people have recommended that.

Altricious
02-10-2012, 03:50 PM
There are two factors in removing labels. The obvious one is the glue. Some glues are water soluble while others are not. No matter how much soap you use, glues that are not water soluble will be stubborn and will not dissolve. In those cases solvents like mineral spirits, lighter fluid, gasoline or even cooking oil can be helpful. There's a million other similar items that will work.

The second factor that can be very frustrating is the permeability of the label. Thick paper, coatings, or even heavy ink can make it difficult for your solvent to get to the glue.

So, my method when removing any label for any reason is as follows.

If it's truly plastic, peel it. Don't worry about the glue left behind, just get the label part off first. If it's permeable paper, soak it. If it's impermeable, score it and soak it. There's honestly no substitute for a good soak. It's like removing wallpaper.

Then, once the paper is off, address any glue residue. If it doesn't come off with soap and water, then try what's handy, probably your cooking oil if you're cleaning these in the kitchen. If that doesn't work for me, I move on to the WD-40 which is usually also handy. After that, I'm mad enough to drag out the kerosene or gasoline.

Usually though, those gummy glues don't even need a solvent to come off of the glass as long as they've been warmed by the water. I find I can usually just rub them off with a bare hand. (ok, that sounded dirty, sorry)

TheAlchemist
02-10-2012, 04:53 PM
There's a lot of info on bottle washing on another thread, but I can't find it.

Most uncooperative labels will come off in hot bleach water.

Jas53
02-10-2012, 05:58 PM
I use oxyclean overnight to clean both the labels off of beer and wine bottles. By the next morning most of the labels either have fallen off or can be easily removed with a razor blade. After drying - i store upside down in case.

jayich
02-10-2012, 06:54 PM
One more way:
I rinse bottles only with water immediately after use. If bottles have dried- on sediments I will soak in soapy warm water and use a bottle brush for stubborn adherent crap. I then drain the bottles on a rack and then cap with pieces of aluminum foil. I then bake in a 340F oven for 1 hour. The bottles can then be used at any time in the future without further treatment. The oven works better than a dishwasher because it drives out any moisture that may be left in the bottles.

speedreader
02-10-2012, 08:55 PM
About 10 minutes in the oven on 220. Take a razor blade to the corner of the label and peel. Gets about 85-90% of the labels off.

Oddly enough, the ones it doesn't do well with the oven are the cheap paper labels with water soluble adhesives. Those go in a bucket of hot water.

Chevette Girl
02-10-2012, 09:43 PM
Ugh, I've got a whole stupid system... I went to the wine store and they gave me a bunch of wine cases (boxes with the divider inserts) and dirty bottles go in right-side up, clean ones upside-down, that way I can tell the difference and I know that no spiders will have crawled into the clean ones and died (or not, as the case was with one of my carboys once, boy were both of us surprised) and I can just sanitize and use them without washing again.

I have a bucket that fits seven wine bottles, so I put a drip of detergent in each bottle and a squirt in the bucket, fill each bottle AND the bucket with hot water and soak for at least 15 min, longer if the labels are less permeable. I find the plastic ones release better for being warmed anyway... So while they're soaking, I take the bottle brush to each bottle and then when the labels have soaked, I use a knife or spoon edge to scrape off the labels that want to play nice, using a plastic scrubbie for little bits of leftover glue, and the really stubborn ones get stainless steel scrubbie to get the paper off. Then I empty each scrubbed bottle's water into the next bottle going into the pail (it stays warm for hours, I can cycle dozens of bottles through before needing to change the water) and rinse it using my Bottle Blaster (attaches to the laundry tub faucet and blasts water up into the bottle), then it goes on the drying tree to drain, anything with a gummy label that refuses to come off goes into a box and eventually I take the Goo Gone to it but I don't like using that stuff around my wines so I tend to do it all at once so I only have to stink up the place and scrub it off my hands once.

When I'm ready to bottle, I use potassium metabisulphate in one of those sanitizer things (although mine is a different make from my bottle tree and doesn't fit on top of it, boo).

And for the record, most dishwashers don't get hot enough to sterilize, and with the amount of crap I occasionally find in the bottom of my drinking glasses (usually at the bottom of my glass of milk, ugh) when the dishwasher wasn't loaded quite right, I wouldn't trust that they're even clean.

Oh, and my favourite way of dealing with bottles I've just drank the contents of, and what I've recommended to the people who save bottles for me? Don't rinse, just shove the cork halfway back in. I've never had one go fuzzy, presumably there's enough alcohol to keep the buggies at bay, and everything inside stays moist, nothing dries on so when I do get around to washing it, it's no big deal...

maykal
02-11-2012, 01:56 AM
I find one of those metal twirly scrubbers does a great job of getting stubborn labels off, and the glue residue. Not sure what they're called, kind of like a sponge made of twisted metal, available in most supermarkets.

huesmann
02-11-2012, 10:48 AM
When I go dumpster diving for bottles, or get them from friends, I tear off the foils, fill them up with warm water and stack them in my utility sink, soaking them for a couple of hours. This softens up the paper of the labels. I then take a razor scraper, like this one:
http://www.stanleytools.com/catalog_images/web_detail/28-500_web_detail.jpg

and scrape the label off. I basically scrape the glass under the adhesive, and the label comes off, with minimal residue. After I dry the bottles I use some acetone and a paper towel to clean off the minimal remaining residue.

+1 on the bottle tree. Extremely handy for drying bottles. For storage I either put the empties in the wine rack (I have a couple of 144-bottle racks) or in wine boxes (with the cardboard dividers).

hepcat
02-11-2012, 06:05 PM
Think I found the thread you speak of alchemist in the mead making equipment section of the forum shortly after I started this thread.



There's a lot of info on bottle washing on another thread, but I can't find it.

Most uncooperative labels will come off in hot bleach water.

Chevette Girl
02-12-2012, 07:14 PM
I find one of those metal twirly scrubbers does a great job of getting stubborn labels off, and the glue residue. Not sure what they're called, kind of like a sponge made of twisted metal, available in most supermarkets.

These? (http://www.anything4restaurants.com/products/copper-scrubber-73496.html) "Scrub buds" is what Amway calls their stainless steel ones.

veritas
02-12-2012, 07:23 PM
When I go dumpster diving for bottles, or get them from friends, I tear off the foils, fill them up with warm water and stack them in my utility sink, soaking them for a couple of hours. This softens up the paper of the labels. I then take a razor scraper, like this one:
http://www.stanleytools.com/catalog_images/web_detail/28-500_web_detail.jpg

and scrape the label off. I basically scrape the glass under the adhesive, and the label comes off, with minimal residue. After I dry the bottles I use some acetone and a paper towel to clean off the minimal remaining residue.

+1 on the bottle tree. Extremely handy for drying bottles. For storage I either put the empties in the wine rack (I have a couple of 144-bottle racks) or in wine boxes (with the cardboard dividers).

+ 1 Awesome that you go dumpster diving!

Sadie Lady
02-13-2012, 09:22 PM
I love my bottle tree, it was worth it. I try to clean bottles immediately, usually leave them in hot water in the sink over night (labels come off easily) then a good scrubbing with a bottle brush, soap and hot water. I have some sanitizer in a spray bottle, so after I rinse I spray the inside and and put the bottle on the tree. When I'm ready to use them, I rinse with hot water and spray the inside again.

scottyd74
02-14-2012, 04:30 PM
I love my bottle tree. Especially since I bought the Sanitizer that sits on top. functional and ergonomic. I do not miss the days of filling bottles with a chlorine based sanitizer, then emptying, then rinsing. Now I just rinse, sanitize and hang on the tree. I have put the tree in the dishwasher recently too.

Chevette Girl
02-14-2012, 06:04 PM
When I'm putting clean bottles on the tree, I'm not too picky but when I'm putting sanitized bottles on the tree I sanitize the tree first...

huesmann
02-19-2012, 10:48 AM
+ 1 Awesome that you go dumpster diving!
Yeah, I found a couple of prize spots. One is the recycling dumpster behind a wine bar. I go occasional Sunday mornings because they're closed Sundays. The other location is a group of restaurants. I'm not sure which restaurant produces the wine bottles (or if they all contribute), but Sunday mornings is always a bumper crop. Between them I can usually pick up about 4 dozen bottles on a Sunday morning. I could probably get more, but a) I don't really want to open every trash bag, and b) I run out of bottle-carrying capacity at 4 dozen, although I sometimes cram a few more in. :) I wear rubberized gloves when I go dumpster diving, because sometimes there are broken bottles and/or glasses.

I used to put the bottles in the oven to soften the label adhesive and peel the labels off, but that left too much adhesive behind and getting it off with acetone was a PITA. Soaking them and scraping them off is much easier, and I don't have to breathe as much acetone fume!

I have the bottle tree sanitizer top attachment, but I don't use it on the tree because IMO the tree is too unstable. I just use it on the floor.

veritas
02-19-2012, 06:52 PM
Yeah, I found a couple of prize spots. One is the recycling dumpster behind a wine bar. I go occasional Sunday mornings because they're closed Sundays. The other location is a group of restaurants. I'm not sure which restaurant produces the wine bottles (or if they all contribute), but Sunday mornings is always a bumper crop. Between them I can usually pick up about 4 dozen bottles on a Sunday morning. I could probably get more, but a) I don't really want to open every trash bag, and b) I run out of bottle-carrying capacity at 4 dozen, although I sometimes cram a few more in. :) I wear rubberized gloves when I go dumpster diving, because sometimes there are broken bottles and/or glasses.

I used to put the bottles in the oven to soften the label adhesive and peel the labels off, but that left too much adhesive behind and getting it off with acetone was a PITA. Soaking them and scraping them off is much easier, and I don't have to breathe as much acetone fume!

I have the bottle tree sanitizer top attachment, but I don't use it on the tree because IMO the tree is too unstable. I just use it on the floor.

That's fantastic make sure you leave the place looking better than you found it!

Loadnabox
02-20-2012, 03:45 PM
I sheepishly admit to having just gone dumpster diving at the local recycling facility. There's curbside pickup here but there's also a centralized location that happens to have some short dumpsters just for glass (separated recycling, not single stream)

It's a bit embarrassing to be seen doing it (My daughter's pediatrician happened to stop by while doing it last time, that took some explaining) But today I made a pretty good haul.

2 Doz wine bottles, 43 bottles suitable for beer and even 2 grolsch bottles with a flip top.

Now I can bottle some of my beer that's been sitting plus I can start stuffing some of my mead away (My Mallow out and Loaded brew need to find a place other than a precious gallon jug at this point since they are going to take many years.)

I think my haul was worth the embarrassment

veritas
02-20-2012, 05:07 PM
I sheepishly admit to having just gone dumpster diving at the local recycling facility. There's curbside pickup here but there's also a centralized location that happens to have some short dumpsters just for glass (separated recycling, not single stream)

It's a bit embarrassing to be seen doing it (My daughter's pediatrician happened to stop by while doing it last time, that took some explaining) But today I made a pretty good haul.

2 Doz wine bottles, 43 bottles suitable for beer and even 2 grolsch bottles with a flip top.

Now I can bottle some of my beer that's been sitting plus I can start stuffing some of my mead away (My Mallow out and Loaded brew need to find a place other than a precious gallon jug at this point since they are going to take many years.)

I think my haul was worth the embarrassment

I don't think you have anything to be embarrassed about! On the contrary your reusing something reducing waste. Good for you!

jkane
02-20-2012, 05:28 PM
Veritas, Since you are local, if you need wine bottles, let me know. A member of our Ozaukee club, the Trubmeisters, used to work at a restaurant. We have a dozens of cases of bottles gathering dust. They still have labels though. :(

veritas
02-20-2012, 06:00 PM
[QUOTE=jkane;183927]Veritas, Since you are local, if you need wine bottles, let me know. A member of our Ozaukee club, the Trubmeisters, used to work at a restaurant. We have a dozens of cases of bottles gathering dust. They still have labels though. :([/QUOTE

Thanks!

huesmann
02-20-2012, 10:54 PM
Hey, "reduce, reuse, recycle!"

@ veritas: hilarious dumpster sticker! :D

Chevette Girl
02-21-2012, 12:23 AM
I don't think you have anything to be embarrassed about! On the contrary your reusing something reducing waste. Good for you!

Questionable legality though. In Canada anyway, trash-picking and going through recycle bins isn't legal, once it's kicked to the curb it becomes the City's propery.

veritas
02-21-2012, 08:46 AM
Questionable legality though. In Canada anyway, trash-picking and going through recycle bins isn't legal, once it's kicked to the curb it becomes the City's propery.

From Freegan.info page


We aren’t lawyers but this is our best understanding as plain-old US citizens.

Dumpster diving is legal in the United States except where prohibited by local regulation. According to a 1988 Supreme Court Ruling (California vs. Greenwood), when a person throws something out, that item is now the public domain. Here is some language from that ruling: “It is common knowledge that plastic garbage bags left on or at the side of a public street are readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and other members of the public.”

However, if a dumpster is against a building or inside a fenced enclosure marked “No Trespassing,” you could be questioned, ticketed or even arrested by the police. Other law-enforcement tactics to discourage dumpster diving include:

- to ticket or arrest for littering (hence the legal as well as common courtesy reason to leave a trash area neater than you found it!);

- to ticket or arrest for disorderly conduct, if you are blocking a sidewalk or generally creating a ruckus while dumpster diving, or refuse to leave an area when requested to do so.

Unless a town or city has specifically made dumpster diving illegal, generally the police will not come unless called by a store manager or property owner. In our experience, this is yet another good reason to be courteous with any store employee (or resident with a dumpster) who questions the dumpster diving in progress, and to use common sense about how long an individual or group stays at any one trash location. If anyone asks you to leave, consider doing so, even if the law is on your side– there are plenty of other wasted resources to be found.

Chevette Girl
02-21-2012, 02:41 PM
huh, I did a little checking around and it's not illegal in Canada (although if you're on their property and ask them to leave, you must) but I distinctly remember reading an article about an old lady who used to go through people's garbage and separate out their recyclables into the correct receptacles was arrested for doing so, guess it must have been a local bylaw then...

veritas
02-22-2012, 12:57 AM
huh, I did a little checking around and it's not illegal in Canada (although if you're on their property and ask them to leave, you must) but I distinctly remember reading an article about an old lady who used to go through people's garbage and separate out their recyclables into the correct receptacles was arrested for doing so, guess it must have been a local bylaw then...

Its all a huge gray area no matter where you are that's for sure.

Loadnabox
02-22-2012, 09:54 AM
Its all a huge gray area no matter where you are that's for sure.

I suppose since I was on city property they could have asked me to leave (already deposited into city dumpsters too) I probably wouldn't have argued.

Then again I don't see them complaining if I'm not making a huge mess. Plus I went on presidents day so no one there. Maybe just stick to going on Sundays when I need to go?