I love to make my own homebrew, but washing and sanitizing the bottles is a tedious time consuming task. I decided to make a bottle washer to make the whole process less time consuming. After some research, there are a lot of different ways that people have made their own bottle washer. This is my version thanks to inspiration from various different sites.
Originally, I set out to make this out of copper pipe but after looking at all of the different designs, I decided to make it out of PVC. The concern that I have with copper is that the diameter of the pipe is too large for the water to drain out of the bottle properly. I decided to build the base out of ¾ inch PVC and the risers are stake extensions for underground sprinklers. I found them at Lowes on clearance for 40 cents for a package of 3. The base unit is pretty self-explanatory. I do recommend cutting all of your pipe ahead of time and dry fitting everything together to make sure that you have everything good before you start gluing. Also, once you start gluing, you only have a second or two to make any adjustments so glue one joint at a time. I glued the base together and then I marked the locations for the holes and drilled everything. I used the thicker PVC. The extra thickness helped for the risers to thread in better.
An alternate idea that I had was to use a ball point pen as the riser tube. I went with the stake extensions because they were cheap, but if I would not have found them on clearance, I would have used the pen body. It has a larger diameter to allow better water flow and the tip comes to a point so the water spray would be strong. I took a picture for you to compare. Also, as a sample, I used and epoxy glue to put together a small demo of the pens. The glue held well and I am confident that this is actually a better solution. My only concern is that they are slightly shorter but I don’t think that would matter.
The pump is a 1/3 HP submersible pump that I got on Amazon. The pump comes is a ¼ HP version that would have been plenty for this project but the larger pump was only a couple of dollars more. I ended up adding a pressure relief valve to make sure that the pump is able to pump freely (so it doesn’t burn up) and so that I can make the pressure high enough to get the proper power that I need.
I used 2x4’s across the top to hold the bottles. I ended up ripping them on the table saw to make the width fit with the spacing of my base. If I did this again, I probably would have designed the base so that I didn’t need to rip the 2x4’s but either way, I worked out fine. I also used a dado blade to cut grooves on the bottom so that they would rest on the lip of the tub that I used. This worked out well. For the holes I used a 1 ¼ inch spade bit. This seems to be good for various bottle sizes. I used a drill press to drill both the 2x4’s and the PVC. I think it will be fine if you don’t have a drill press, but be careful to drill the holes straight up and down.
Step 5: Update
Okay, so today I washed a particularly grungy batch of bottles that someone gave me and I took a few pictures of the washer in action. First, I ran them through the dishwasher to remove the labels and clean the outside, then I used the washer. As you can see, the water shoots up nicely into the bottles and did a good job cleaning them. I ended up letting the washer run for 30 minutes just because I wasn’t really sure how long to go. The bottles all looked good so I am happy with that time. Also, I used a dishwasher soap pod for my cleaning agent and that seemed to work nicely. As you see it foamed up a little but not bad at all for all of the agitation.
Also, I added a quick disconnect to the pump. This really made it a lot easier to move things around and the big reason that I wanted it is because I plan to make a carboy washer and I would like to use the same pump. This has been my plan all along, that is why I added the extra valve at the top. When I get this finished, I will either make an update or I will make a new instructable.
Last, I hooked up the demo pen riser to see how well it would work, the water hit the ceiling in the shower so I didn’t get a chance to get a picture. I knew it would have better flow, I just didn’t know it would be that much. If I were to do it again, I would use the pen for sure! I may even go back and retrofit what I have. We will see. I am pleased with how well it worked so I don’t know if I will or not.