Cleaning your AeroGarden is an important part of growing healthy plants. But why is it needed? And what is the best way to clean all the parts without damaging them? We’ll answer all these questions and more.
Over time your plant’s roots will grow into the filter. It can also become clogged with algae, slime, or other organic matter. When this happens the water won’t circulate efficiently.
The pump may still be working, but if it is blocked on one side or covered in algae, it won’t be performing at optimum levels. This means your plant’s roots won’t be getting all the oxygen and nutrients they need.
By cleaning the inside of your Aerogarden, and ensuring the filter and pump are free from any obstructions, the essential water and nutrients will be able to reach all of your plant’s roots.
This leads to bigger and healthier plants. And that is of course our goal! So, let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- Bleach or Vinegar for Cleaning
- New Sponge or Paper Towels
- Small Brush if there are brown spots or if it is really dirty!
- Clean Towel for Drying
How To Clean Your AeroGarden: Step-By-Step Guide
Use these instructions to keep your unit clean and running smoothly.
1. Unplug The AeroGarden
First, start by unplugging your Aerogarden. Unplug both the base from the wall and the reservoir from the base.
Carry the unit over to the sink.
2. Remove The Plants
Lift out the grow deck and your plants. Disentangle the roots. If you’ve been growing plants for a while, they may have grown into the deck or the filter. Set the deck on a plate or tray.
Optionally you can set the pods in a glass of water while you are cleaning so the roots don’t dry out.
3. Empty The Reservior Bowl
Pour the water from the reservoir bowl into the sink. Rinse out the bowl with water to remove any visible slime or residue.
4. Clean The Filter
As your plants grow bigger, their roots get longer. And while this is a good thing, it can often lead to clogging the filter, so the water doesn’t circulate efficiently.
Take out the filter and clean it off. The filter is the small square black sponge that fits into the slot next to the pump.
If you don’t see it, check the roots of your plants. Sometimes the roots grow into the filter, and it comes out when you take out the plants.
Remove any plant material from the filter and rinse it off. Then place the filter back in the slot of your unit.
5. Prepare A Cleaning Solution With Bleach or White Vinegar
Aerogarden recommends two types of cleaning solutions:
- 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach mixed with a tank of water OR
- 5 cups of distilled white vinegar
Fill the reservoir with water and add 1/4 cup bleach. (Or you can use vinegar in place of bleach).
Plug the unit back in and run the water pump for 5 minutes. This sanitizes the interior of your AeroGarden.
6. Rinse It Well
We’re going to rinse the components three times to make sure all traces of bleach or vinegar are removed.
Note: Both vinegar & bleach are great for cleaning & disinfecting, but they kill all organic matter. So once we’ve finished cleaning, we need to make sure all traces of either substance are gone. Otherwise, they may interfere with your plant’s future growth.
Fill the bowl with water and let the filter run for 5 minutes. This is rinse #2.
Empty the bowl again and let the filter run again for 5 minutes. This is the final rinse.
Wipe everything down with a clean rag or fresh towel.
7. Clean the Growing Deck
Rinse the growing deck in your sink with the sprayer. Use a small brush or sponge to loosen and remove any organic material. Continue rinsing with water until it’s clean.
You can use a Q-tip and a little vinegar for stubborn spots. Rinse again and dry it off with a clean towel.
See the FAQ at the bottom for additional tips for removing stains.
8. Reassemble Your AeroGarden
Now that everything is clean reattach the deck to the reservoir. Then slide it back in the base.
You are now ready to replant or stow it away for later use.
Helpful Tips While Cleaning
Here are a few tips that hopefully answer any additional questions you may have.
Harvest Your Herbs Before You Start
Before you get started, either do a full harvest or give your herbs a light pruning.
Most often, you’ll be cleaning in between plantings, but sometimes a mid-growing cycle clean is needed. In this case, working with neat plants will make the whole process easier.
What If There Is Algae On (or In) My AeroGarden?
Algae may grow in the water bowl or around the holes inside your AeroGarden, on the grow deck, or around the seed pods. This is normal and won’t hurt your plants, as long as its not excessive.
What Causes Algae And How To Prevent It
Algae grows when water and light interact. This happens in most hydroponic systems. The nutrient solution actually helps the algae grow.
To clean it, you can simply wipe it off with a clean cloth or damp paper towel. Or replace the water in the reservoir.
Preventing light from entering the water basin can decrease algae growth. You can get plant spacers to cover any unused holes to keep light out.
What Is That Brown Crust on The Grow Deck?
The edges around the planting cells of your grow deck may start accumulating brown “crust” or sediment as your plants grow. This is residue from the fertilizer. While it looks dirty; it won’t hurt your plants. It is also fairly common as you’ve been growing for a while.
When water circulates in the body of the AeroGarden, some of the fertilizer comes up through the plant cells. It can be deposited on top of the growing deck, leaving behind the brown coloring. The brown residue is just a little calcium buildup from the Liquid Fertilizer.
While it’s not harmful, you can remove it with a little white vinegar and baking soda or CLR, a Calcium, Lime, Rust Remover. Use a small brush to help loosen and remove the mineral buildup.
Keep the water level at or below the fill line to prevent this from happening. The lower water level will prevent the water from bubbling up through the plant cells.
Do I Have To Bleach or Vinegar for Cleaning?
No, you don’t. Aerogarden recommends using one or the other to eliminate all bacteria and any buildup of organic matter. However, some folks clean their Aerogardens with just water and have good results.
So, if you have any sensitivity to chemicals, you can try it as well. And, if you don’t have either on hand, don’t skip the cleaning. One or two growing cycles just using water and a clean sponge or towel should be just fine.
How Often Should You Clean Your AeroGarden?
At a minimum, you should clean your AeroGarden every time you plant new pods.
In addition to cleaning in between plantings, you should also replace the water every 4-6 weeks.
You don’t have to do a full sanitizing like described above. Just empty the reservoir, rinse out the bowl and fill it with clean water.
This is recommended by AeroGarden. They have done many studies and proven that plants grow stronger and healthier when the water was replaced regularly.
The AeroGarden is a super easy and fun way to grow fresh herbs and plants inside. And while the plants grow mostly on auto-pilot, a small amount of maintenance is still required.
The whole cleaning process only takes about 1/2 hour and is well worth the effort. You will be rewarded with big healthy herbs grown in the convenience of your own kitchen!