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How To Clean Beer Brewing Equipment

Whether using a beer making kit or brewing from scratch, cleaning and sanitizing your equipment is absolutely essential to producing tasty beer that is safe to consume. But with so many options out there, how can you make the best decision for your home brewery?

In this guide to cleaning and sanitizing brewing equipment, we’ll cover what you should—and shouldn’t—use to keep your equipment squeaky clean and safe to use.

Can You Use Dish Soap To Clean Brewing Equipment?

You should not use regular dish soap to clean your home brewing equipment. That’s because dish soap leaves residue behind on your dishes. While this residue won’t impact the taste of your food when eating off a dinner plate, it can add a soapy taste to your home brews. Homemade beers offer a wide variety of flavors, but suds shouldn’t be one of them.

Instead, use cleaning supplies that are specifically formulated for home brewing equipment, like Powedered Brewery Wash. To thoroughly clean your equipment, soak it in the cleaning solution for an hour or two. Then scrub the nooks and crannies clean with a soft brush. Don’t use wire brushes or other coarse materials, as these can leave scratches that harmful bacteria may grow in. 

How Do You Clean Brewing Equipment with Vinegar?

You can use white vinegar to clean light messes from your home brewing equipment, but make sure to thoroughly rinse with water to get rid of trace amounts that might be left over. What’s a light mess? These are small deposits or bits of residue that wipe off easily. To clean with vinegar, first, bring a gallon of vinegar to a boil. This will help loosen dirt and grime, which you can remove with a soft brush. 

Heavier messes, like larger buildups of organic matter or dried-on gunk, will require a more powerful cleaning solution. In these cases, try an alkaline cleaning agent like Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW).

It’s important to note that while white vinegar can help you clean your equipment, sanitizing brewing equipment with vinegar is ineffective. Cleaning refers to cleaning debris off a surface, and sanitizing is when you kill the bacteria on that surface. You’ll need an additional solution designed for sanitizing to prepare your equipment for safe use fully.

What Should I Use To Sanitize My Brewing Equipment?

You should use solutions that are specifically designed for home brewing equipment when sanitizing your home brewing equipment. This may sound obvious, but there are a lot of options out there, and not all of them are ideal. For example, sanitizing brewing equipment with alcohol can get the job done, but you need to avoid harmful products that include methanol or benzene. Bleach-based solutions are another option, but with thorough rinsing, they can positively impact yeast interactions in your brew. At Great Fermentations, we recommend:

Visit our website to learn more about how to sanitize brewing equipment with these solutions.  

Can You Use Bleach To Sanitize Brewing Equipment?

Sanitizing brewing equipment with bleach will kill the bacteria, but there are a couple of things you need to watch out for:

  • First, you need to thoroughly rinse off your equipment with hot water after sanitizing with bleach. Otherwise, your beer will be tarnished with a heavy and off-putting chemical taste.
  • Second, you shouldn’t use it for metal or plastic surfaces. That’s because bleach can stain and corrode metal and plastic—like your fermenting pot and siphon tubes—which will reduce the lifespan of those pieces of equipment. However, cleaning beer bottles with bleach is effective and won’t harm the glass.

Bleach is an effective disinfectant, but its uses are situational. Specialized brewing equipment sanitizing solutions, like Star San Sanitizer, are more versatile. Star San is non-toxic, won’t impact the taste of your brew, and foams up to ensure even the smallest cracks get sanitized. 

Can I Use Oxiclean To Sanitize Brewing Equipment?

Oxiclean can effectively clean your brewing equipment, but can’t sanitize and isn’t always the best choice. Depending on which Oxiclean product you use, you’ll have to watch out for the negative effects of bleach. These are:

  • Staining and discoloration of metal and plastic surfaces
  • The potential chemical taste left in batches

Some Oxiclean products also come with strong added scents, which can mess with the flavor profile of your beer. If you use Oxiclean, opt for a scent-free product.

To avoid the potential pitfalls of bleach-based and scented products, use a sanitizing solution that’s meant for home brewing equipment. Both Star San Sanitizer and SaniClean Sanitizer are food-safe and sanitize your equipment without damaging it. 

Where Can I Get Cleaning Supplies for My Brewing Equipment? Great Fermentations!

Cleaning and sanitizing is the most important step of any brewing process. Without the right supplies, your batch could be ruined by contaminants and foul tastes. At Great Fermentations, our goal is to arm you with the right chemicals for exactly what you’re doing. We don’t promote one-size-fits-all answers. Instead, we help you find products that work best for home brewers—to keep out contaminants while protecting your equipment.

Browse our online store, stop in for a visit, or give us a call to see how we can help you find the right cleaning and sanitizing supplies!

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