To clean a stainless steel milk bucket, use food-grade chlorine bleach, cleaning chemicals formulated for dairy equipment or a dishwasher that meets National Sanitation Foundation guidelines for sanitizing dishes. Dishwashers that do not meet these guidelines are not capable of properly cleaning stainless steel milking equipment.
Chemicals formulated for dairy equipment include special acid rinses and detergents. Detergents made for dairy use are non-foaming, and acid rinses marketed for dairy equipment use phosphoric acid rather than sulfuric or nitric acid. These cleaning solutions are available from farming and dairy supply stores. Food-grade chlorine bleach appropriate for cleaning stainless steel milking buckets is available at pool supply stores.
Dishwashers that meet National Sanitation Foundation standards reach a minimum temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit. An extended rinse at this temperature kills 99.99 percent of bacteria. To reach this temperature without a certified sanitizing dishwasher, boil the stainless steel bucket in water.
Milking buckets that are not sanitized with chemicals or sufficient temperatures may harbor bacteria that cause illnesses. Washing a bucket with soap and hot water or using a non-sanitizing dishwasher is not sufficient to kill these bacteria. Natural cleaning solutions that do not contain chemical disinfectants such as bleach or phosphoric acid are not sufficient to clean dairy equipment.