Hi, Michael! Thank you for your feedback! I do understand what you mean about the columns making cleaning somewhat difficult, but I've found that using a bottle brush on them works pretty well! As for the plastic odor, Waterbrick recommends: Simply use a quarter cup of bleach with one cup of water and pour inside the WaterBrick, tighten lid; then, shake back and forth for a few minutes. When completed, thoroughly rinse out the contents and let dry. If you feel it is necessary to clean the lid and gasket, remove both and wash. Please do note that the spigots are sold separately since many of our customers purchase multiple Waterbricks, but need only the one spigot. I hope that addresses your concerns! Please let us know if there's anything else we can clear up!