Chiefly, the frequency of cleaning depends on the design of the hydroponic system and the type of hydroponic plant.
Evidently, to keep a hydroponic system clean, it is essential to disinfect and sterilize from the walls, floor, tables, to lights, accessories, containers, tank, etc.
How to Clean a Hydroponic System: Disinfection
Specifically, for disinfection, this is a frequent activity: cleaning air filters, lights, submersible pumps, tubes, decomposed organic matter; sweeping, mopping, tidying up, etc.
- 3% hydrogen peroxide.
How to Clean a Hydroponic System: Sterilizing
Sterilizing means to eliminate pathogens and is done after harvest. If you observe a diseased plant, you should sterilize the whole system.
- Bleach (0.5 -1 ounce per gallon of water).
- Isopropyl alcohol.
Do not use very concentrated solutions and do not mix chemicals, such as bleach, in order to avoid damage to your health and plants.
- Broom and mop.
- Rubber gloves.
- Microfiber cloths.
- Scrub brushes.
- Safety glasses.
- 3% Hydrogen peroxide.
How to Clean a Hydroponic System: How to sterilize it
Disconnect all electrical appliances. As for the hydroponic lights, unplug them, dust them and clean them. In particular, reflectors, ballasts and cables.
Then, clean the walls, shelves, etc. Finally, sweep the floor to avoid spreading dirt during sterilization. Remember to clean from top to bottom.
Drain the water from the hydroponic system, remove the air stone and remove debris (algae, dead roots, dirt, biofilm, etc.).
Fill the system with the sterilizing solution (if using 3% hydrogen peroxide, the recommended amount is 3 ml per liter of water) and sterilize tubes, caps, etc.
Then, turn on the pump to circulate the water for about 5 hours. Disconnect the tubes, clean them with a brush (for bottles) and rinse them with the sterilizing solution. Similarly, do the same with caps, pump, air stone, accessories and so on.
If you have the budget, you can replace the air stones every time you sterilize the system.
Correspondingly, the hydroponic lights, you can use 3% vinegar and a microfiber cloth. Then, rinse with distilled water to avoid stains. Also, remember to clean surrounding electrical areas.
Rinse the system a couple of times. If using bleach, rinse 3 times and drain. Then, completely dry each part of the hydroponic system (this can be with a cloth that does not shed particles, fans or lights) and assemble it.
How to Clean a Hydroponic System: Common hydroponic problems
Root rot hydroponics
Root rot in DWC is caused by fungi: Pythium, Fusarium, Phytophthora and Rhizoctonia, when there is poor maintenance: excessive irrigation, lack of oxygenation, accumulated dirt, among others.
Particularly, these fungi generate zoospores, chlamydospores and oospores that usually travel through the tubes, thus infecting other plants.
- Black spots on stem and leaves.
- Wilted, yellow, brown, flaccid leaves.
- Black or brown roots with soft, root hairs.
- Rotting odor.
Treating root rot in hydroponics
The most effective treatment for root rot is prevention because most plants with root rot cannot be saved because propagation is rapid. And, if the rot is widespread, the most pertinent thing to do is to start a new crop.
Nevertheless, in some cases, it may be that plants can be saved, if the edible parts are not affected.
This is Heisenberg’s recipe, from the Rollitup.org forum:
- Trim dead or decayed roots and soak them in a sterilizing solution (Physan 20) for up to 12 hrs.
- Add 2 gallons or 7.5 liters of non-chlorinated (distilled, filtered) water to a bucket and place two air stones.
- Add 15-30 ml of Hydroguard and 1/4 to 1/2 tablespoon of Great White powder.
- Add 2 handfuls of Ancient Forest to a stocking. Then, dip it directly onto the air stone.
- Add a tablespoon of molasses to the bucket and wait 48 hrs. for the solution to bubble to room temperature.
- After 48 hours, you can store the “tea” in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. If it starts to smell bad, discard it and make a new one.
- Add 1 cup to the reservoir with nutrients for every gallon or 3.7 liters of water.
- Add 1 cup to the tank at 3-day intervals. You can also spray a little tea at the base of plant stems.
Preventing root rot in hydroponics
- Clean the hydroponic system area frequently.
- Disinfect and sterilize periodically.
- Verify that temperature and aeration are adequate.
Algae in hydroponics
Algae are organisms that enter the hydroponic system via airborne spores. Once in the buckets or reservoir, they grow due to the flow of nutrients and oxygen.
Indeed, it is normal to find algae in the hydroponic system, so it is important to monitor for significant growth that will deplete nutrients and oxygen, causing fluctuations in pH.
Moreover, buckets or tanks that are white tend to have more algae growth due to receiving direct light.
- Withered or dried leaves.
- The seedling is growing slowly and weakly.
Killing algae in hydroponics
- Eliminate them in the sterilization process.
Prevent algae in hydroponics
- Keep the hydroponic system and its environment clean and disinfected.
- Prevent light from entering the reservoir. You can cover the reservoir and tanks with an opaque material, such as a tarpaulin or plastic.
- If you have serious algae problems and you have the budget, you can install UVC light.
A viscous, sticky film of microorganisms that forms on the surface and walls of the main reservoir due to the proliferation of bacteria, algae and microorganisms. Consequently, this biofilm attracts fungi and hinders the flow of nutrients and water.
- Eliminate it in the sterilization process.
How to clean salt build up in hydroponics
Salt buildup is generated, among several causes, by excess of the hydroponic solution, affecting the health of the plant.
- Black spots or burns on leaf tips.
- Roots become soft.
- Leaves turn yellowish or brown.
- Eliminate it in the sterilization process.