Cleansers and Sanitizers

Homebrewing Techniques- keeping it clean.

One the most important things you can do to ensure great beers every time you brew is to clean and sanitize your equipment.  By removing deposits built up on equipment and reducing exposure to wild yeast and bacteria you will allow the yeast you pitch into cooled wort to complete fermentation before any spoiling agents can flourish.  There are a variety different cleansers and sanitizers are available to the home brewer and each have their own advantages and shortcomings.

Chlorinated Alkaline Cleanser
Available under a number of different names, these cleansers work both to clean stubborn beer stone and to prevent potential spoilage of you beer.  These cleansers are easy to use and require only a simple rinse with fresh water.  They also excel at removing stubborn beer stone buildup from beer equipment, beer glasses, fermentation vessels, and especially draft beer lines.

Oxygen Based Cleaners
These cleansers work by releasing oxygen into solution that is supposed to both clean and sanitize at the same time.  While they do a great job of reducing harmful bacteria and yeast they do not work as well on tough beer stains.  The key advantage is the short working time and the ease of rinsing these cleaners off brewing equipment surfaces.  These are also widely available from homebrewing and very safe to handle.

Excellent sanitizer, but not a very good cleanser.  Do not mistake for the iodine used to treat wound and available in the local pharmacy.  Iodophor requires only a 2-minute soak time and no rinsing, but beware, it will stain anything it touches and will begin to turn plastics a shade of brown that can disguise stains and residues that need to be cleaned.

This is one of the easiest sanitizers to find and use.  It is widely available in grocery and hardware stores and can be very effective at making equipment free of wild yeast and bacteria.  The main shortcoming of bleach is it requires longer soak times and rinse times, and it does not effectively remove beer deposits from equipment.  While it can work in a pinch, we do not recommend using bleach when other much better cleansers are available.  If you do find you need to use bleach, mix 2 oz to 5 gallons and let the solution contact equipment for 15 minutes.  Then be sure to rinse equipment with plenty of clean water and let air dry before using.