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For a healthy meal always and to keep your unit for long; your aerogarden, just like many other appliances you use for food-related things require regular cleaning. The process of cleaning an aerogarden is very simple and with just a few things and in a short time, your unit will be sparkling and looking as good as new.
In this post, I will be sharing with you how you can thoroughly clean and sanitize your aerogarden properly to get it ready for use. Whether you have a Bounty, Harvest, Herbie, Sprout, Farm, Classic model; you can use any of the methods mentioned here to successfully give your unit a good cleanup.
you can quickly jump to the cleaning process here
Is cleaning your aerogarden necessary?
Yes, cleaning your unit is necessary for it to always provide healthy and safe harvest; and also to prevent having any dirt or debris clogging important parts of your aerogarden.
Some people really do not know that their unit should be cleaned. Some use it for a long period without cleaning and when a part gets clogged or their vegetables start tasting funny, they assume something has gone wrong with the unit. You can even find this group of people rushing online to buy a new unit as they think “something went wrong with theirs”. If you are one, or you know any of such people, all you need is to clean your aerogarden regularly and you are good.
Why do you need to clean your aerogarden?
There are many reasons why your aerogarden needs to be cleaned. The major reasons why you should always keep your unit clean include the following:
- The food you grow on it needs a clean environment to avoid contamination.
- Cleaning and sanitizing your Aerogarden will help reduce the risk of root pathogens that can destroy your crops.
- Little particles that pile up in the unit can come together and clog an important part of the unit like the pump.
- A dirty unit can contaminate your herbs, vegetables and all.
- Plant pathogens thrive mostly in dirty areas and once they attack your plants, you can lose them all.
- Once your aerogarden is green and slimy inside as a result of not cleaning out the water regularly, this can cause your plants to not get the clean nutrient they need. If it becomes so bad, all your plants can wilt and die from lack of clean oxygen.
- The bowl in which the plants are grown can harbour different kinds of antigen as well as bacteria. These things can contaminate the sides and the ground surfaces of your unit’s bowl; which can contaminate your plants.
- Dirty aerogardens can welcome flies and other bugs. The last thing you need is bugs hovering around your plants always.
When to clean/sanitize your Aerogarden?
Most people do not know when is the right time to clean their Aerogarden. Some assume it should be done right after a full harvest; some others feel they should clean it before they begin any planting circle; others do that as often as they can (mostly weekly) and some even go ahead to clean it even before the first use. These people are all right in their own way and if you are in any of this category, you are still doing well.
In case you aren’t aware, the best time to clean your aerogarden is just when it needs cleaning; as simple as that. And these are the 3 important times your aerogarden needs cleaning:
- After every harvest, especially when you decide to throw the pods out.
- Before starting any new Seed Pod Kit to begin a new circle.
- After major trimming of the roots (this should be a minor cleaning and you can see how to do this here).
You can choose to clean it even before the first use but that should be a minor rinsing as nothing has been used in it.
How often should you clean your aerogarden?
You can clean your aerogarden as often as you can, especially if you can’t wait for a planting circle to end or when you are ready to trim roots or throw away the pods. If you want to clean it often, make it nothing more than once a week as some people do if they have plants in. This will go a long way to preserve the life of your plants.
PS: Never wait for your aerogarden to start looking unkempt before you think of cleaning it.
Aerogarden cleaning tips you should keep in mind
Before you pick up your unit to start cleaning and sanitizing it, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Watch out for the filter! Do not throw away your filter by accident as this is easy to do when removing plant roots. This is because the roots can grow into the filter and you may not know when it will slip away as you remove the roots. Be sure to check for it immediately you reach the roots; bring it out, clean it and reinstall immediately.
- For thorough and proper cleaning and sanitizing of the unit, you need to dismantle your aerogarden (Check the user manual that comes with it for help). Anything short of that is not a thorough cleaning as there are internal parts that need proper cleaning; you might not see them well unless everything is out.
- When dismantling your unit, keep your eyes out for parts that are worn out, getting damaged, spoilt or not in the right position. You would need to do the needful to ensure nothing goes wrong later. For instance, if the filter looks too worn, it’s best to replace it to prolong the life of your pump.
- While you are still in the process of checking for damaged or worn out parts that need replacement, you can check to see if your unit would need Airstones. Airstones will give your plants an oxygen boost for better growth and they can be used in all aerator/bubbler models.
- If it’s only the top and other outer areas of your aerogarden that is dirty, no need to dismantle everything to do a cleanup. You can simply wipe it with wet tissues/paper towels and it would be clean enough.
- Whenever you need to clean the unit and you have got plants on it, do not use bleach. Only water is enough to get the job done.
- It is best if you do not use any kind of chemical cleaners or harsh soaps/agents because they can damage or even destroy your plants totally. Just water is enough if you are really meticulous with the whole process.
Materials needed for cleaning your aerogarden
To successfully get your aerogarden properly cleaned, you need the following:
- Bleach or Vinegar: To properly sanitize the unit and kill off any bacteria lurking around the bowl. Most people prefer vinegar as it is milder and possesses the natural ability to restrain the effect of bacteria without posing any risk to plants.
- Large bowl: This will come in handy when you want to submerge the plastic pieces of the aerogarden in a vinegar or bleach bath.
- Soft towel: You can use this for wiping down the areas you can’t place in water. It must be soft to prevent scratching the surface and its use will ensure that bacteria and other pathogens are removed from those areas you can’t soak or use water on.
- Paper towels: For areas around the pods, you will need paper towels to clean them, especially if you have got weeds growing underneath the decks. This can be done in a unique way to prevent damage to roots/plants if you have got them in.
- Water: A very important item you will need even if you choose to use vinegar or bleach. If done well, this can even be used alone to still get your unit looking clean and ready for use.
Ways to clean your Aerogarden?
There are three ways you can clean and sanitize your aerogarden. You can do that through the dishwasher, chlorine bleach or by distilled vinegar method.
Is aerogarden dishwasher-safe?
Yes and no. Yes, because some inner parts of the aerogarden are safe to put in the dishwasher. And no, because the much bigger parts, like the base, light hood, can’t go in the dishwasher without getting damaged.
How to clean your Aerogarden?
Cleaning your aerogarden can either be by giving it a thorough cleaning and sanitizing or giving it a minor cleanup; especially if you just worked on a little adjustment and decided to give the unit quick rinse.
Thorough cleaning and sanitizing (Major cleanup)
So, is it time to clean your aerogarden? If you are ready, let’s get started using any of the three ways.
But hold up! For all three methods, you need to first disassemble the whole unit. You need to do this gently and take note of what goes inside what; this is important for when you will need to reassemble it again. When reassembling, ensure that the parts are properly snapped back to their respective positions. You can use the manual both before and after dismantling if you aren’t sure of what you are doing.
The light hood needs to be removed gently; the bowl of Aerogarden, as well as the base, needs to also be separated from each other; the tray needs to be removed too; and depending on your model, the pump should also be unscrewed from its house.
P.S DO NOT use water on the light hood, control panel, wire area, sockets, touch screen or any part that is not water-resistant and can be damaged. Keep these ones aside as you can simply use a towel to wipe such areas.
Once the whole unit has been dismantled, you can proceed with any of the three methods below:
Method 1: Cleaning you aerogarden using a dishwasher
If you have a dishwasher you can clean you aerogarden easily and faster:
- Remove any seed pods or roots still hanging in the deck.
- If the seedpods domes, sponges and baskets are from a regular seed kit, dispose of them. If any of them is reusable, like the baskets, remove any plant residue from them and set aside to clean with a soft sponge.
- Then, place your aerogarden’s grow deck and bowl in the top rack of the dishwasher
- Run them through a regular cycle and remove when done.
- Remove the pump filter from its house and give it a good scrub using a brush to remove any roots or other particles in there.
- Use a towel to wipe the other parts to remove any dust or bacteria.
- Let it air-dry for some hours before reassembling the parts again.
- You can allow your bowl rest for a day before you start preparing for your next planting.
Method 2: Cleaning you aerogarden using distilled vinegar
Using the vinegar is a much more natural way to remove bacteria without harsh chemicals such as bleach. And this distilled vinegar from Heinz would do the job perfectly.
So, if you would be using this to clean and sanitize your unit:
- Get a large container; one that is large enough to contain all the parts of the aerogarden apart from the light hood, the area with the control panel, the wires and aerogarden bowl. Fill the container with water and add one cup of vinegar.
- Apart from the light hood and bowl, submerge all the other parts in the water and let it soak for 20 minutes or more. You can use a wooden spoon or stick to stir them once in a while; make sure every side soaks properly to get rid of any bacteria hiding in tiny nooks are being absorbed with vinegar.
- Next, measure vinegar and water using the ratio 1:1 and pour in the aerogarden’s bowl. You need to measure this depending on how many cups of liquid your aerogarden model can carry. For instance, all the farm models can hold about 30 cups of water. So, you will be using 13-15 cups of vinegar and 13-15 cups of water if you have a farm model.
- Once you have poured the content into the aerogarden bowl, cover it, connect the pump and let it run for 7-10 minutes to make sure that it has time to work its magic well.
- After the time is up, disconnect the pump, empty the contents and refill with clean water (no vinegar this time).
- Get the pump running and leave it for 5-7 minutes.
- Once done, disconnect and empty the bowl.
- If you want to be double sure that there is no vinegar hanging inside the bowl; add water one last time and let the pump run for 3 minutes before emptying it one final time.
- Remove the pump filter from its house and give it a good scrub using a brush to remove any particles in there.
- Then move to the soaked parts; remove them from the solution and hold them under running water so that every drop of vinegar solution is removed. Be sure to look out for tiny pieces that may fall off in the process.
- Next, use a towel to wipe the other parts of the unit that can’t be placed in water. Do this to remove dust and any bacteria that must have made a home there.
- Lastly, allow the whole unit to air-dry for some time before reassembling the parts.
- You should let the bowl rest for a day or 2 before adding fresh water and planting again.
Method 3: Cleaning you aerogarden using chlorine bleach
If you want to use chlorine bleach to sanitize your unit, I will recommend you use this Ultra Clorox Germicidal Bleach as it is great for plant bacteria, fungus, grime, mildew, etc:
- Seperate the light hood and the parts that can be damaged with water; place the other parts in a large container filled with water and half cup of bleach. Let this soak for 10-20 minutes while stirring occasionally with a wooden stick or spoon.
- For the unit’s bowl, you need to measure about 1/4 cup of bleach per 10 cups of water. Again, this will depend on the aerogarden model you are using. For farm models that can hold about 30 cups of water, you will need to add 3/4 cup of bleach.
- Once in, cover it, reconnect the pump and let the solution run for 7-10 minutes.
- After that, carefully disconnect the pump, pour out the content and refill with clean water.
- Reconnect the pump and let it run for an extra 5-7 minutes. before disconnecting the pump and pouring out the water.
- If you want to be double sure that there is no bleach remaining that can mess with your plants; add water again and let the pump run for 3 minutes before emptying it.
- You can also hold the bowl under clean running water to get the entire bowl rinsed off one last time. We are talking of bleach here; you need to make sure there is no trace left, lol.
- Remove the pump filter from its house and scrub it using a brush to remove any roots or other particles.
- Next, move to the soaked parts; remove them from the solution and hold them under running water so that every drop of vinegar solution is removed. Be sure to look out for tiny pieces that may fall off in the process.
- Lastly, let them all air-dry for some hours before reassembling.
- After a day or 2 of letting your bowl rest, pour in fresh water and get started on planting!
How to clean you aerogarden with plants in it (Minor cleanup)
While it’s not always recommended that you clean your aerogarden when you have plants in it, you can still do that if you really need to give it a quick cleanup. It is even best to do this when you want to give your root a trim so that you can have a good reason to take it apart.
Just know that when you are cleaning with plants in, you have to be super careful to not damage any plants while you are doing this. As for the roots, be extra careful while cleaning the areas around them as they are sensitive and highly susceptible to tearing.
As long as you agree that you have to be as gentle as a dove when handling them, and also do it as fast as you can; let’s get started:
- Unplug the unit, remove the bowl and grow deck and position them near a sink.
- Pour out the water in the bowl down the drain.
- Hold the plant tray over a sink while the roots are dangling and start working not them. You can check this post out to see how to go about trimming your roots safely.
- Once done with trimming, it’s best to set the tray of plants aside on a clean surface until you are done with the rest.
- Fill the bowl with warm water ONLY. Turn on the pump and let it run for 2-5 minutes. This will pump the water through the whole system to clean it.
- Disconnect the unit and empty the bowl. You can add water and run it one last time if you wish.
- You can go the extra mile to remove the pump filter from its house and give it a good scrub using a brush to remove roots or other particles hiding there.
- Use a damp towel or soft sponge to wipe the outer surfaces of the unit to get rid of dust and dirt. Be careful not to touch the light hood, control panel and other sensitive areas.
- Once done, place everything back in its position. Add fresh, clean water and the right amount of nutrients the plant you are growing needs.
- Plug your unit back in continue growing!
How to clean an aerogarden that has stayed for long without use
If you made a great harvest, emptied the water and dumped your aerogarden right after that, or you left water in your unit for too long, or you cleaned it after use and left it for a long time; your aerogarden could be a mess when you finally go back to it.
But not to worry, here are steps you can follow to get it clean and ready for use again (it’s long but totally worth it):
- Unplug the water level and the pump. Then you can empty the bowl if there is water in it.
- If you find a bit of dirt, sediment or algae in the bowl, grab a sponge and give it a good scrub. Don’t use any soap though, just some warm water is fine. The sponge you use should also be soft as you don’t want to use anything that will scratch the bowl.
- Once the bowl is visually clean it is time to tackle the pump. Keep in mind that if you have some roots that made their way into the pump before, it would take you longer to clean.
- Remove the pump using a screwdriver if your model has screws attached. If it doesn’t use screws, then you can check the manual that comes with it to see how to remove your model’s.
- Once the screws are out you can take the pump out of the housing. If you have got roots in it, quickly grab some toothpicks and tweezers to carefully remove the roots. You need to keep going at this until all the roots, every single one of them, is out.
- Once the roots are completely removed, give the pump itself a quick clean to make sure that it has no residue inside.
- With the pump and the bowl clean you can put them back into the housing and put the cover and screws back. Then focus on the outside.
- You can use a wet paper towel or sponge to quickly give the outer area a once over to get off any surface dirt. Make sure you don’t miss the little areas that hide in corners/edges on your model. You can use q-tips to clean all the nooks and crannies of all the sides. It may not be easy, but trust me, it’s all worth it.
- Next, you need to sterilize the bowl. You can do that using the three methods earlier discussed – dishwasher, distilled vinegar or chlorine bleach.
- Once that is done, set everything aside (on a clean surface) to air-dry till the next day. This will help get rid of any smell that might still be in there.
- After drying, your unit is squeaky clean and ready to take on its next seedpods.
- Be sure to replace any part that is worn out and needs replacement.
- Go ahead and reconnect the pump and water level. Make sure the pump is running well and then put the top back on.
- Now, get new seeds, the complete Grow Anything Kit that contains baskets, sponges, domes, labels and plant nutrients kit and start planting! If you’re not sure what to grow in your Aerogarden, check out this post on Complete Safe List Of Aerogarden Plants you can successfully plant in your unit.
The cleaning of your aerogarden is a compulsory process no doubt. Cleaning it will enable the unit to run smoothly and ensure that you enjoy healthy fresh foods free from contamination all year round.
Any of the methods listed in this post will set you on the right track. And as long as you follow the steps diligently, you have nothing to worry about. You would be done cleaning in time and resume planting as if nothing happened.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any question or suggestion.