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Home Brew Sanitizing Best Practices

This month’s host of the ongoing Fermentation Friday series is Matt at World of Brews. The topic this time around is:

I have been reading a lot of forums and books lately about cleaning and sanitizing practices. Like most topics in home brewing there are 100’s of different ways to clean and sanitize your equipment. I would like you to post about the process and chemicals you use to prepare your equipment. I would also like you to discuss what you have tried in the past and why you finally settled on your current process.

So when it comes to sanitizing, the Brew Dudes use Star San. It is a flavorless, odorless, no-rinse food grade sanitizer…and it’s effective. We generally use it to soak equipment in, but it can be used to hand sanitize items. You can put it in a spray bottle to use to spot sanitize on the fly.

I have used iodophor as well, but I only use that for small sanitizing jobs. For instance, I soaked my bottle caps in an iodophor solution before I bottled the last batch.

Here’s Star San and Iodophor – back together again for the first time…..

Star San And Iodophor

For cleaning equipment, we use One Step Cleaner or Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW). These are cleaning agents that work really well for cleaning brewing equipment. It’s pretty important to make sure you clean anything you are going to sanitize very well. We have had the problem of contamination because the sanitizer just could do that job we had laid before it. You must sanitize any equipment that will come in contact with your wort/beer – post boil. If you take the time to clean and sanitize, you will be on your way to brewing greatness.


Mash Tun Accessories Purchased


Porter: The toilet bowl of all beer styles.


  1. Ryan Tenney

    I had been using C-Brite for cleaning and sanitation. Forget the fact that it’s toxic, it just doesn’t work that well. Sure it’s always done an acceptable job as a sanitizer, but it just doesn’t do anything to a carboy that was subject to severe blowoff during fermentation.

    I started using StarSan and PBW about 2 months ago and I won’t go back. Though, sometimes the self foaming nature of the StarSan is a pain in the ass. I always feel weird about leaving a lot of foam in the carboy or keg, so I usually end up rinsing it out with cold water. How do you deal with that?

  2. Paul

    Do you find that Star-San leaves your stuff really slippery? Just this past weekend we brewed up a batch of Fat Tire. Had various components soaking in Star-San, airlocks, carboy bung, etc… Upon ‘trying’ to put the carboy bung in, it slid right back up out of the carboy. Eventually, soaked it in vodka, and scrubbed it clean, resoaked for a bit and it slid in no problem, and stayed. Ever have that happen? I did use the proper amount for a 5 gallon batch. Otherwise, I like the stuff.

  3. Aaron

    I use bleach because I’m cheap.

    I’ve found that it makes things slippery as well, until they’re rinsed off. I’ve always just written it off as an effect of the material being cleaned of trace dust/oils that otherwise cause traction.

  4. Ryan Tenney

    I don’t usually have that problem with StarSan, I do have that problem with PBW… Get a little PBW solution on the outside of a carboy and I can’t hang onto it to save my life.

  5. Matt

    I have used Liqud Ciastic in my brewing equipment for Cleaning and Peroxyacetic Acid for sanitation for Homebrewing but I wouldn’t recomend this to the home brewer .Ive worked in breweries and these are both dangerous chemicals that need to be handled with care or they will burn your skin,

    A good caustic based cleaner and Iodophor and you should get by .Also use a sulphur based stanitiser like Sodium Metbisulphate in some water when keeping your equipment in storage will work wonders ,

    Also do a Hydrogen peroxide soak every so often of all your equipment to change up the sanitation regime .

    Hydrogen peroxide will convert into water and oxygen (Peroxyacetic acid is very strong Hydrogen Peroxide and Acetic Acid ) so its safe for brewing

  6. StarSan does leave a slightly slippery surface, but not like PBW does.
    I like to be sure I have fully rinsed out my cleanser (PBW) before I sanitize.

    As always, DONT FEAR THE FOAM! Just rack right on top of it.

  7. Hopshead

    Another vote for “don’t fear the foam” its what sanitizes your equipment.

  8. Danx

    I’ve been making mead for a while and I use and swear by B-brite… this is a bad thing?

  9. Danx,

    No, that’s not a bad thing. If it works for you, use it.


  10. Polishqueue

    In Kentucky (and some but not all other states) we can buy 190-proof grain neutral spirits at most liquor stores. Common brands are EverClear and GoldenGrain. 190-proof is essentially pure ethanol, as the alcohol is anhydrous, making 100% only possible (or at least available) under laboratory conditions. It is used for making liqueurs and cordials (and applejack and cherrybombs, too, of course) and so it is certainly food-grade (i.e., not intended for mixing with gasoline as fuel) and safe to use around your beer.

    It will kill — on contact — just about any micororganism that exists, having essentially the same properties as the isopropyl alcohol used in surgery, only just not poisonous. Due mainly to taxes at the retail level, it’s not the cheapest disinfectant you can find; I think I paid about $19.00 for a 1-liter bottle, but then you also don’t need very much of it. A little spray bottle from the Dollar Store filled with about a half-pint will last a long time and allows you to casually spray any piece of equipment with just a light mist. No “quick dipping” in a chlorine solution (which doesn’t work anyway unless you leave it soak there for awhile — and that’s for EACH end of that racking cane, mister) and no need to rinse, ’cause there’s no odor or flavor at all. Best of all, it can be reused! It’s impossible to contaminate it (at least biologically; you can get it dirty of course). I pour a few drops (less than a half ounce) into my carboys and plastic containers after I wash them, seal them up, and shake ’em around. The alcohol vaporizes, absorbing the standing water (no fear of mold) and the container will be remain perfectly sterile for, well, decades I guess.

    When bottling or racking I spray a couple of squeezes into the air around where I’m working every five minutes or so, like it was air freshener. No worries about airborne bacteria anymore.


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