The Importance of Regularly Cleaning Your Hydroponic System
One of the beautiful things about hydroponic gardening systems is how much the system does on its own. Pumps and gravity handle the feeding and watering, while grow lights and fans provide sunlight, heat, and fresh air. Unfortunately, you can’t just set up a garden and come back several months later to a bounty of fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs. A gardener must keep the system clean and free of excess minerals, mold and mildew, and pests. To help, here’s a guide to the importance of regularly cleaning your hydroponic system.
When Is It Time To Clean Your Hydroponics System?
The straight answer: daily. Watch your system, looking for signs that the system isn’t as clean as it could be. Look for algae buildup, notice if plants are wilting or discolored, smell for odd aromas, and wipe down the system and, more gently, the plants. If you notice uncleanliness anywhere, clean it up before it leads to more serious issues. Flush the system with lukewarm, pH-balanced water once a week to eliminate salts and other materials that can hurt plants and block nutrients.
Levels of Cleanliness
When discussing the importance of regularly cleaning your hydroponic system, sanitizing and sterilizing are the next steps. Definitions matter when discussing sanitizing versus sterilizing. Sanitizing means making things clean and hygienic, which is vital when you’re dealing with plants that people will eventually eat or otherwise imbibe. Sterilization, on the other hand—when it comes to cleaning—means killing all forms of life. As some sites point out, while you need to keep things clean and sanitized around plants, you absolutely must not make the plants themselves sterile.
Sanitizing Your System
We’ve covered several aspects of sanitization, including flushing the system and wiping things down. This also involves clearing dead leaves and other matter, sweeping and mopping the floor to get rid of bug-attracting spills, and cleaning out and replacing filters on your pumps, fans, exhaust systems, and so forth. Such basic maintenance ensures pests, fungus, bacteria, and other plant killers can’t establish themselves in your grow room or on your plants. Sanitization is an ongoing process, so if the question is, “How often should I clean my system?” the answer is, “every day.”
Sterilizing Your System
Sterilization is a more detailed and thorough process, at least in terms of killing the pests and microbes that can hurt plants. As a rule, you should clean out and sterilize the main tank that holds your nutrient solution at least once a week. We offer several hydroponic pest control products that can get rid of pests, mildew, mold, fungi, and unpleasant odors, though bleach and water can do the trick too. Replace your grow medium if it’s getting scummy and gross. Thoroughly clean the containers holding your plants as well as any other receptacles that hold nutrient solutions for days on end. Finish it all off with a thorough rinse, and you’re back in business.