Hi gwencoast, First, it is important to understand the difference between Cleaning, Sanitizing, Disinfecting and Sterilizing:
- Cleaning - The process of removing material from the surface.
- Sanitizing - The process of reducing the number of organisms (bacteria, fungi, etc.).
- Disinfecting - In the United States, items labeled as sanitizers are agents that destroy 99.999% of bacteria in 30 seconds. Items labeled as disinfectants are products that destroy all organisms in 10 minutes. While disinfectants work more slowly, they exceed the 99.999% definition of sanitizing but do not usually meet the 99.99999999% to call it sterilized.
- Sterilizing - Like sanitizing, but removing ALL microorganisms (any living being - microscopic or otherwise).
I recommend that you first clean your TG, then sanitize it (note: Disinfecting the TG is difficult and Sterilizing the TG is near impossible).
Cleaning the TG
Use the following article as a procedural guide but use my cleaning mixture in place of the mixtures described in the article:
- How to Clean Your Tower Garden in 3 Simple Steps
- JoeD's TG Cleaning Solution
Fill the TG tub with water and add the following:
Heinz Cleaning Vinegar (add 1/2 gallon to tub)
Castile Soap (add 2 tbsp. to the tub):
OxiClean Free (add 4 scoops to the tub):
For stubborn stains and/or crust, use some Oxiclean power and a little water to form a paste. Apply the paste to problem area and rub with a Scotch-Brite type sponge.
I highly recommend the use of rubber gloves when cleaning the TG.
Sanitizing the TG
After all TG parts have been cleaned, fill the TG tub with fresh, clean COLD water and then add the following:
- BTF Lodophor Sanitizer (follow label instructions - usually ~8 tbsp. for 20 gallons of cold water)
Soak all the TG parts in that solution for at least 5 minutes then rinse. FYI: You can substitute ~4 scoops of OxiClean Free for BTF Lodophor as a sanitizer but in my opinion, it is not as effective.