Cleaning and sanitizing home brewing equipment is the most important and often most neglected step in the brewing process. If the brewing equipment is not cleaned and sanitized properly it can ruin the batch. You put hours of work into your beer, so why take a risk? Cleaning and sanitizing is easy and quick, and I’m going to cover the basics for you in this post.
Everything that comes in contact with your wort needs to be cleaned and sanitized. Your brew pot doesn’t actually need to be sterilized, because the heat from the boil will keep the pot sterile. You still should check and make sure that their is no visible debris before starting though. Cleaning is the process of removing any debris you can see, but cleaning wont take care of the germs you can see. Sanitizing your equipment actually kills the bacteria you cant see.
Cleaning the Equipment:
It is best to use bleach or OxiClean to clean your equipment, but it is ok to clean your equipment with a household detergent (like dish soap). If you must use a detergent, dont use anything scented and make sure you carefully rinse after cleaning. Rinsing is really important during this step, because any of these chemicals can ruin your beer if they make it past this step. Also it is important to never use anything abrasive when cleaning as it could scratch your equipment (making it much harder to properly sanitize).
Do: Rinse thoroughly Don’t: Use a scented detergent or abrasive cleaning tools
Sanitizing the Equipment:
There are lots of products out their made specifically for sanitizing home brewing equipment. Bleach and Iodophors would be the most common, however there is Potassium Metabisulfite, Sodium Metabisulfite, Napisan… and the list goes on!
I highly recomend Star-San, which is a iodophor. The main ingredient is phosphoric acid, and it is no rinse (which makes it really simple). This is probably the most popular and widely available sanitizing agent for home brewers.
What equipment to sanitize:
- Carboys / Fermenters
- Bottling Bucket
- Stiring Spoon
- Bottles or Keg
- Airlocks, Plugs, Lids
The process of cleaning and sterilizing your equipment may not be as fun as brewing, but it is just as important! This method can be used with any of the home brewing kits and equipment on this blog, so don’t risk it. Some equipment has advantages / disadvantages when sterilizing, so make sure you check out some of the equipment variations.