PDX Brewers Club

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Cleaning and Sanitization

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Household cleaners such as Dish soap and Laundry detergent can be effective cleaners for removing organic deposits on all home brewing equipment. Several rinses with hot water may be required to remove all traces of the detergent. Laboratory detergents such as Alconox rinse very easily.

- Scented detergents can contain perfumes which can absorb into plastics and manifest into your beer.

- Some detergents cannot be rinsed completely and can leave a film that can off flavor your beer.

Directions for Use:
- Products vary, read directions or experiment with different amounts. Excess amounts may require extra rinsing.
- Rinse required.
- Ok to use on all brewing equipment and materials (read warning section).

TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) / CTSP (Chlorinated Trisodium Phosphate):

TSP and CTSP are very effective cleaners for removing organic deposits and because of the phosphate rinse away easily. CTSP (the chlorinated form) provides sanitizing capability. Both TSP and CTSP are hard to find, but may be found at your local hardware store, in the paint section.

- Phosphate cleaners are regarded as pollutants to the environment.
- TSP/CTSP should not be left to soak for more than an hour. A white mineral film can form on glass and metal which requires an acid solution to remove.

Directions for Use:
- 1 Tablespoon per 1 Gallon of hot water.
- Rinse required.
- Ok to use on all brewing equipment all materials (read warning section).

Automatic Dishwashers:

Using an automatic dishwasher to clean you brewing equipment is simple and convenient. However, dishwashers ideally should only be used to clean small objects that the dishwasher sprayers can get to, like small pans, measuring cups, bowls. If you question whether a dish washer can properly clean an object then don’t use it. I have always found that elbow grease and dish soap clean better than a dishwasher any day. Dishwashers also have a sanitizing characteristic, but that doesn’t help cleaning and is discussed in the sanitizing section.

- Narrow openings in some brewing equipment can prevent water jets from cleaning the inside and/or rinsing the soap out effectively.
- Dishwasher drying additives such as Jet Dry work by putting a chemical film on items being washed. This film can ruin head retention of your homebrew. Do not use drying additives on home brewing equipment.

Direction for Use:
- Follow dish washer instructions. Do not use drying additive. Inspect all equipment after cleaning.
- Safe for all materials, but only use on equipment that can be effectively cleaned by the jets.


Bleach is an effective cleaner, because it forms a caustic solution that is good at breaking up organic compounds.

- Caution should be used when using bleach with a number of metals.
o Bleach removes the protective surface oxides of aluminum and can cause your beer to have a metallic taste.
o Bleach will blacken brass or copper and will increase the risk of adding unhealthy levels of copper to your beer.
o The chlorine in bleach is one of the few chemicals that can corrode stainless steel. Use bleach only for a sort period of time when cleaning stainless steel. Rinse well.
o Bleach must be rinsed well or it can combined with compounds found in wort and medicinal off-flavors.

Direction for Use:
- 2 &½ Tablespoons of bleach per 5 gallons of water for glass and plastic, let soak for 30 minutes. Rinse well.


Powered Brewery Wash (PBW), Straight-A, B-Brite, One-Step, and products like OxyClean are made from sodium percarbonate. These products use powerful oxygen to eat away just about any kind of brewing grunge, including the post-fermentation residue almost always found on fermentor walls. All the products above with the exception of OxyClean are made especially for the brewing and/or food industry. OxyClean is made for all-purpose household cleaning, but is a fraction of the price of the other cleaners listed.

- Percarbonate cleaners should not be mixed with ammonia or bleach based products.
- Solution should not be left in contact with dissimilar metals for more than a day, because corrosion can occur.

Directions for Use:
- Generally 1 tablespoon per 1 gallon, but follow manufactures instructions to be safe. Allow equipment to soak. These products leave a slimy film when poured out so rinse well.

White Distilled Vinegar:

White distilled vinegar (5% Acetic Acid) is a very effective cleaner for brewing equipment made of copper. Copper wort chillers and other copper tubing should be cleaned with white distilled vinegar before the first time you use them. By cleaning copper wort tubing with acetic acid once before the first use and rinsing with water immediately after each use, the copper will remain clean with no oxide or wort deposits that could harbor bacteria.

White distilled vinegar (mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide) can also be used to remove lead from brass fittings. A solution of two parts white vinegar to one part hydrogen peroxide (3% solution) will remove tarnish and surface lead from brass parts.

Direction for Use:
- For copper cleaning - make a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar to 5 gallons of water and bring it to a boil. Place copper pieces into solution and let it boil for a few minutes. Copper should come out shiny.
- For de-leading brass - make a solution of 2 parts white distilled vinegar to 1 part hydrogen peroxide (3%) and place brass fittings into it for 15 minutes at room temperature. If solution turns green then the copper in the brass is beginning to dissolve. The solution has become contaminated and should be re-cleaned in a fresh solution.

Oven Cleaner:

Brewers often scorch the bottoms of their brew pots resulting in a black, burned wort area that is difficult to remove. One method to remove this nuisance is to use spray on oven cleaner and let it dissolve the stain. After the burned on area has been removed, it is important to thoroughly rinse the area of any residue from the oven cleaner. Oven cleaner is caustic so rinsing with vinegar will neutralize any remaining cleaner. A detergent or other mild cleaner can remove any trace of the vinegar.

- The sodium hydroxide in oven cleaner is very hazardous to skin and should only be only be used with gloves and eye protection.
- Oven cleaner is very corrosive to aluminum and brass.

Directions for use:
- Spray oven cleaner on the burnt wort and allow it to dissolve the stain. If a large amount was used then rinse with vinegar to neutralize. Wash with a mild cleaner like detergent to remove the vinegar.



The most popular types of alcohol used for sanitation are ethyl and isopropyl. Methyl can be used, but is often not, because it is less effective and toxic. Generally a solution of 70% alcohol and 30% water make the best sanitizer than 100% alcohol. Alcohol will kill most bacterial organisms in less than five minutes, but it is best to let items soak at least 10 minutes to kill the stubborn ones. Isopropyl alcohol (better known as rubbing alcohol) is the most effective of the three and is the most common. Ethyl alcohol (usually 100+ proof vodka or ever clear) is second out of the three in effectiveness, but is very expensive because it is taxed. Isopropyl alcohol is best used in a spray bottle to sanitize your brewing environment such as counter-tops, tables, bottle openings, and hands. Ethyl alcohol can be used to soak bottle caps during bottling. Gargling high-proof alcohol in order to sanitize your mouth for siphoning is a myth, so don’t do it.

- Even at 70% solution alcohol is extremely flammable.
- Isopropyl and Methyl alcohols are toxic and are undesirable in beer.
- Do not use alcohol on tubing, because it can dissolve the plastic to some degree.

Directions for Use:
- Use a 70% alcohol solution in a spray bottle or on a piece of cotton to sanitize your brewing area.
- Fill a dish with high-proof ethyl and allow bottle caps to soak for several minutes before use.


Bleach has the advantages of being a powerful germicide, colorless, and nonpoisonous when diluted properly. For sanitizing purposes a concentration of 100 to 200 ppm (parts per million) is need to kill most microorganisms with an exposure time of 10 minutes. Bleach solutions degrade of time so you will most likely want to make a fresh solution each time it is needed.

- Equipment must be clean or bleach will react with organic materials rendering its sanitizing ability useless.
- Bleach is corrosive to many metal types. (see cleaning section for details)
- Bleach can combined with compounds found in wort and medicinal off-flavors. In order to combat this problem, allow the bleach to drip dry completely or rinse with pre-boiled water.

Directions for Use:
- Use 1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 gallon of water to get 200 ppm. Soak equipment for 10-15 minutes.


Iodophor is probably the most popular of the sanitizing agents available to homebrewer today. It is cheap, effective, and best of all you don’t have to rinse it as long as you use it at proper strength. Iodophor at 12.5 ppm (parts per million) needs as little as 60 seconds contact time to sanitize. The color of the Iodophor solution is a rough guide to it’s effectiveness as a sanitizer. If the solution still has its amber color, it is most likely still active. It is recommended that a fresh solution be mixed when the color fades or after a couple of days. Items need to be cleaned well, before sanitizing.

- Iodophor is red in color and will stain your plastic and/or vinyl equipment. It will also stain your skin and clothing if you get it on you.
- Always use Iodophor in a diluted form.

Directions for Use:
- Use 1 tablespoon of Iodophor to 5 gallons of water for 12.5 ppm. Let items soak for at least 60 seconds. For carboys and large buckets use a couple of gallons of solution and swish around for a couple of minutes. Drain well, but NO NEED TO RINSE.

Star San:

Star San is quite possibly the best sanitizer on the market. It meets or beats Iodophor in every category except cost. Star San can sanitize in as little as 10 seconds which makes it a perfect spray bottle sanitizer for those quick on the fly jobs. Another great feature of this sanitizer is the fact that it can be stored and remain effective for long periods of time. The fact that you can store it dramatically reduces the cost. Store in an air-tight container and discard if the solutions pH rises above 2.9. Purchasing a package pH testing strips is a worth while investment to help reduce the cost of your Star San.

Direction for Use:
- Use 1 ounce for 5 gallons of water. Let items soak for at least 10 seconds or longer. Drain well, but NO NEED TO RINSE.

Dry Heat:

Dry Heat is less effective than wet or moist heat in killing microorganisms, but it can still be used. The best place to do dry heat is your oven. For an item to be sterilized by dry heat it needs to be heated at a given temperature for a given time as shown below.

Temperature Time
338°F 60 Minutes
320°F 120 Minutes
302°F 150 Minutes
284°F 180 Minutes
250°F 12 Hours

The times indicated begin when the item has reached the indicated temperatures.

- Most plastic’s will melt or warp at temperatures needed for sanitation.
- Glass made with soda lime can burst do to the thermal shock of cooling from the above temperatures. Take caution when sanitizing Beer bottles and other glass using this method.

Directions for Use:
- Use temperatures and times above to heat appropriate equipment in the oven. Cover equipment with aluminum foil, especially bottle openings so that equipment stays sanitized after cool down.

Moist Heat:

Steam is an effective sanitizer and can be produced most commonly by automatic dishwashers with a heat-drying cycle. By loading pre-cleaned bottles or equipment, and not using any detergent or rinse agent, the steam from the drying cycle will effectively sanitize even interior surfaces. This method is best to use on bottles before bottling. The best part about using the dishwasher to sanitize your bottle is that you can use the door as a table and the dish washer racks as your bottle rack until the bottle is filled and capped.

- Rinsing agents such as Jet Dry can ruin the head retention of your beer. Don’t use it.
- Equipment may be hot when you go to remove.

Directions for Use:
- Make sure the inside of your dish washer is clean of debris. Load the inside of your dish washer with bottle or equipment. Turn on dish washer, run the hot water cycle, follow by a heat-dry cycle.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 October 2007 14:51