Bottle Washer





Introduction: Bottle Washer

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.

Step 1:

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.

Step 2:

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.

Step 3:

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.

Step 4:

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.

Step 6: Final Update

So I changed it over to the pen body. This has much better flow - so much that I actually closed the pressure relief valve all the way. This is the way to go. Much better flow. Cheap and easy way to do this.



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17 Discussions

This really inspired me so I set to work using the ball point pen variation. Works a treat. I drilled through holes for the pens so the base poked through the other side of the pipe slightly. It means I had to drill small holes in the side of the pen near that end to let the water in. Sealed it all up with glue. It’s rigid enough to hold the bottles upright without a piece of wood.

The tape has been replaced with glue since this photo, and I’ve limited it to 30 pens to get good pressure from my 12V submersible pump (£15).

1 reply

That's Great! I bet when you have them all filled the plastic tote also helps keep all of the bottles upright. I'm glad it worked out for you - Cheers!

Great project ! I’m thinking of using a sheet of 3/4 plywood for the top and sealing with water seal. Can I ask what size, length width, height of the plastic storage unit you used ? Thanks.

I think the best way to describe the pressure is by looking at the picture above where it shows the water spraying up... I am happy with the design and it works well, but if I were making it again, I would use the pens.

I going to build this next weekend as I have a 10 gal batch that will be ready to bottle and I can see that this will be a huge time saver. Looks like you can place up to 25 bottles at a time. How far did you drill your holes apart on the picture it looks like two inches? is that correct?

1 reply

I did 2 1/4 inches because that is the width of a typical beer bottle.

Excellent idea, will be building this on the weekend and would like to know more about the water pump. How many litres/gallons per minute does it pump? I have a couple of small water pumps laying around.

1 reply

The pump is rated for 2400 GPH or 1680 GPH at 10' of lift.

Cheers from a fellow homebrewer! Great utilization of materials to do what is undoubtedly the most boring part of brewing.

1 reply

First I'm going to build a smaller version of this as soon as I can. Washing the bottles has been less of a problem for me than drying them once washed. My use is very different. I want to reuse bottles for olive oil. so being dry is important. I'd like to find a solution that does not take days. I've tried ovens and sitting out in sun for example there always seems to be some condensation. I should say I didn't look for any solutions yet but your project triggered the thought so please don't flame me for asking I'll do a search now. I also just want to say very nicely done.

1 reply

Glad you like it, maybe you could pump air through it? It would be cool if you could use the same device for washing and drying. Good luck with your search!