The Basics of Cleaning and Sanitisation

Post #1 made 11 years ago
[Like all, "The Basics," in the General Brewing Skills section, the following is not a definitive guide. It is simply a guide that will get a new brewer under way safely and with confidence. Please advise BIABrewer of any errors. Please justify, in full, any contrary topics that you may choose to start in this forum. If well-written and justified, they will be, "promoted," as best as we are able.]

[center]All brewers, new and experienced, are encouraged to start new topics in this section provided they have read the below.[/center]

[center]The Basics of Cleaning and Sanitisation[/center]

Cleaning and sanitisation of brewing equipment is a practice employed to minimise the possibility of our final beer becoming tainted or infected. See The Basics of Identifying Faults for more details.

The practice should involve two chemicals, one being alkaline and the latter being acidic. The serious new brewer should not skimp on chemical costs and should treat chemicals as being a necessary cost and part of brewing.

Cleaning removes the solids from our equipment. Sanitisation removes microbes. It is very important to use both alkaline and acidic chemicals to avoid invisible layers building up on equipment.


Cleaning involves pulling apart equipment and "washing," it. Washing means using an alkaline chemical along with some form of microfibre cloth or a brush. These clean without scratching.

Once equipment has been cleaned, it should then be rinsed with water at the same temperature or higher than used for cleaning.


Prior to re-assembly or use, the equipment should be sanitised using an acidic chemical which should be of the, "no-rinse," type. A spray bottle is often a handy way of doing this.

The spray bottle should also be used to spray assembled parts and equipment any time boiled wort (for kits please read, "at all times,") or beer is about to touch that equipment. Depending on the chemical used, a minute or two of contact time is usually needed for the acidic chemical to have effect.


There is a bewildering array of chemicals that will achieve the above but all have their limitations. For example, chemicals that may work well on plastics could well destroy metal or nylon equipment and vice versa. Other chemicals are over-priced and often quite poor in their effectiveness.

At time of writing, BIABrewer recommends new brewers use Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW) for their alkaline chemical and Starsan for their no-rinse sanitiser. Become familiar with how they should be used and be sure of your advice if you consider changing to other chemicals.

The company that supplies the above two chemicals is, "Five Star Chemicals." and they have an established history of assisting home brewers with a high level of integrity.

In keeping with the tone of this forum you are most welcome to start topics that involve alternatives to the above two chemicals. If you do create such a topic, be sure though to list thoroughly what the chemical does and doesn't do as well as it's price and availablity.


Cleaning and sanitisation is a complex subject and it can also be a frustrating one. A, "clean," brewer will still sometimes get an infection whilst another brewer using nothing but a garden hose can sometimes produce one great beer after another :). It doesn't happen often but it does happen.

One final word of warning, be very careful when adding new equipment to your brewery. A ball-valve for example might look great and be easy to use but they aren't much fun to pull apart, clean, sanitise and then re-assemble.

[center]All brewers, new and experienced, are encouraged to start new topics in this section provided they have read the above.[/center]
Last edited by BIABrewer on 02 Mar 2010, 19:12, edited 41 times in total.

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