Drill-Powered Carboy Cleaner

I honestly can’t pinpoint exactly what got me started in homebrewing. I was looking for a new hobby and literally stumbled into it. I kid you not, before I brewed a batch, before I had bought a single grain, I had already transformed a cooler into a mash lauter tun, made a copper immersion wort chiller, and modified a previously unused turkey fryer to make it brew-friendly. That’s one of the things that attracted me to this wonderful hobby 2-½ years ago; the ability to personalize your equipment and the freedom of knowing that your process or setup may be different from everyone else’s, but it works for you and you end up with good brew.

When I finally started brewing, I learned quickly that a carboy brush is designed to spackle the walls, surrounding cabinets, and the user with undesirable crustiness from within. Sure, it does a good job cleaning the kräusen ring and it’s cheap, but I was sure there was a better way. I scrounged DIYs on various Internet forums in search of a better way and found that soaking it with OxiClean overnight seemed to be the default for most folks. For the first few batches, I did just that — I waited. I’d fill a carboy up half way with some sort of detergent then carefully flip it over and balance it in a bucket to let the suds do the work. Most of the time the place I picked to let the carboy sit and clean itself was in the way of my wife or I, but I couldn’t dare move it out of fear of spilling the water all over the counters and the floor, not to mention dropping a carboy could be catastrophic. I needed a better way; a way to speed up that process because leaving carboys soaking in the kitchen for an extended time wasn’t an option in my world anymore.

Driving through the automatic car wash one day, as I watched the giant spinning cloths, I wondered, ‘why not try to make a small one of these to clean the innards of my carboys?’ The only thing I had on hand was a Shammy cloth in my stash of car washing supplies, so before heading to the local hardware store I drew up a quick sketch of how to attach the cloth to the end of a rod. I realized I could attach the other end of the rod to my power drill. With a design in mind, I spent about 10 minutes at the hardware store and gathered $16 worth of supplies, including an aluminum rod. When I was about to leave, I realized the aluminum rod was long enough to cut in half and I had enough Shammy material to make an extra, so I bought two additional nuts, flat washers, and lock washers and made one for a buddy that brews. The thread protector already came in a two-pack, so for a grand total of $18 (add $6-$8 more if you have to buy a Shammy) and an hour of my time, I had a tool for me and a gift for a friend, and you can, too!

Tube cutter (or simple scoring tool)
Vice grips
Small slip-joint pliers
Thread cutters (die, ¼-inch, fine or coarse)
Sand paper

(1) 18-inch (46-cm) aluminum rod, ¼-inch diameter
(2) nuts, ¼-inch (use same thread pattern as the die you used)
(2) flat washers, ¼-inch I.D., ¾-inch O.D.
(2) external tooth lock washers, ½-inch I.D.
(1) thread protector, ¼-inch
(1) Shammy cloth