Overview of Cleansing and Sanitizing

The most critical aspect of making good beer is the cleansing and sanitizing phase. However, there is often confusion in the brewing community about the differences between the two and incorrect assumptions may lead to bad beer.

If there is one point grasped from this article, it is this; cleansers and sanitizers are not the same. Cleansers leave your equipment shiny and clean; sanitizers keep bacteria and other spoilage organisms counts low enough so that a batch is not spoiled. Before you sanitize, everything must first be cleaned otherwise the sanitizer will not be effective.

Cleaning Purpose:

  1. Remove organic and inorganic deposits.
  2. Removal of nutrient and hiding places for micro-organisms.

Sanitizing Purpose:

  1. Reduce the overall bacteria and micro-organism cell count so that yeast population dominates the fermentation outcome.

Cleansing and Sanitizing Factors:

Both with cleaning and sanitation there is the CATT factors:

  1. C-Concentration:  The stronger the solution often the more effective it is, but this is dependent on the cleanser or sanitizer.  Follow manufacturers recommendations as a starting point.
  2. A-Agitation:  Mechanical means of removal will also make cleaning much more effective.
  3. T-Time: The longer a cleanser and sanitizer can penetrate and break up organics the more effective it will be.
  4. T-Temperature:  Higher temperatures will increase the solubility of water and will also make the cleanser or sanitizer more effective thereby reducing the overall cleaning time.

Other Notes:

Every surface that touches your beer during the brewing process should be clean and free from oil or soap residues. Most brewers use their brewing equipment only for brewing, to prevent odors and oils from the kitchen from affecting the quality of your beer. The cleanser used is also important.

When cleaning avoid at all costs soap and oils in the brewing equipment.  Both will affect the quality and appearance of your beer because they interfere with head retention, causing the beer foam to dissipate rapidly. For this reason, your serving glasses should also be well rinsed to ensure the best possible presentation of your hand-crafted beers.

Cleansing Tips and Tricks:

  1. Let the chemicals do the work and avoid brushes.  They will eventually lead to abrasions and hiding spots for bacteria over time.
  2. Carboys are best rinsed immediately after use with hot water to avoid getting caked on residue.
  3. If residue is stubborn with carboy it may be required to leave the cleanser in the carboy overnight.  Worst case a brush may need to be used.
  4. A spray bottle of star san can come in handy for sanitizing funnels, lids, and other random pieces of equipment.
  5. If rinsing is necessary it is important to rinse with sanitized water.  This may also mean rinsing with cheap light lager beer.


1. Oxyclean (an industrial version)
2. PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash)
3. Bleach
4. Boiling Water
5. BKF (Bar Keepers Friend).  If you are using stainless steel.
6. TSP (tri-sodium phosphate solution)
7. dishwasher detergent.Calgonite brand
8.Antiformin S (it’s like bleach but with more caustic). It’s rapid! A 20% bleach solution makes an excellent cleaner too.
9. Draftec Beer Line Cleaner for the hoses/connectors/faucets.
10. an unbranded powdered beer line cleaner (not BLC) I get from the LHBS for cleaning my keg lines
11. Straight-A (percarbonate cleaner)
12. B-Brite
13. Easy Clean

PropagationNation’s Choice: PBW – it will remove nearly everything


1. Idophor / IO Star
2. Bleach
3. Autoclave
4. Starsan
5. Diversol
6. One Step
7. Everclear (hard alcohol will do the trick as well)
8. Potassium Metabisulphate

PropagationNation’s choice: Starsan – however, the foaming is a little annoying.

© 2011 All Grain Beer Brewing and Beer Recipe Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha