Cleaning hydroponic systems should always involve the larger area they’re in. Grow rooms have a ton of different spaces and things that need cleaning, even if it is a small area. There is the grow area with plants, the lighting and fixtures, the hydroponic reservoir, pumps, filters, air intake, and that is just the equipment. Then, there is also the other surfaces like walls, floors, and worktables. When cleaning hydroponic systems, do not skip around. Start on one task, and then move to the next. It is easier to use a ‘top to bottom’ method because you avoid dirtying places you have just cleaned.
In most hydroponic systems, the grow lights are the most elevated piece. Because of that, when most people start cleaning hydroponic systems, they start with the lights. A good dusting is part of sanitizing. When it comes to sterilizing, make sure the lights are off, unplugged, and cooled down before you clean them.
If you have an air intake or filtration system, clean it out too. Dust and debris accumulates in vents and pipes quickly, so do not neglect it. Maintain your filters regularly (most filters need a cleaning or change everyone to three months). Wipe down all ventilation system surfaces and use compressed air when there is a really tough spot.
Even if they look clean, walls and tables hold a lot of gunk you do not see right away. Dust, spores, pests, and bacteria lurk in these high traffic areas. You can use the same cleaning solution for these surfaces when you clean the rest of your system.
Pro tip: wipe walls with a duster or microfiber cloth before spraying and sweep floors before mopping. It keeps dust and dirt from sticking when wet.
Your hydroponic reservoir is what holds the nutrient solution. Over time, salts can build up in the reservoir, creating a nutrient imbalance. Not only that, if your reservoir is not clean, you cannot give your plants a healthy environment. Keeping a lid on your reservoir helps prevent contaminants from getting into it, and it helps prevent algae build up. You should clean your reservoir every time you do a large water change (every few weeks or once a month).
The grow tray
Naturally, you will not clean your grow tray when plants are in it. However, you will still remove dead plant material and keep the area tidy. After a harvest, make sure you thoroughly clean and disinfect your grow tray before putting any new plants in. Discard old grow medium if it is not reusable. If it is reusable, make sure you clean it too.
Pumps and tubing
Submersible pumps can be put in a mild cleaning solution, like vinegar and water. Then rinse the pump and dry it before using it again. Tubing can be more difficult to clean. If you do not clean your tubing however, bacteria, algae, and fungi can build up. Always wipe down the outsides of tubing and run a cleaning solution through it before rinsing with clean water. In some cases, tubing is more easily replaced than thoroughly cleaned (and it is cheap too).