What is the PBW cleaner that homebrewers seem to keep talking about?

PBW for cleaning homebrew equipment
PBW cleans beer equipment very well

PBW stands for Powdered Brewery Wash.

This cleaning product is widely used in commercial breweries but countless home brewers across the country have cottoned on to how they can use it for cleaning their own brewing equipment.

It was originally used by the Coors brewery!

PBW is a trusted brand among most American home brewing communities. If you are looking for some guidance about how to clean your brewing equipment, they will probably say use this powdered wash.

It really is an amazing cleaner for beer brewing equipment.

Don't believe me and you think I'll say anything to make a sale?

Go onto any beer brewing forum and you will find season beer makers raving about this product. Go on, google it now and you'll quickly find we are not exaggerating about how good this cleaning product is.

The benefits of using PBW are many:

  • If you've ever used a 5 gallon stainless steel boil pot after homebrewing sessions you'll know how crusty the remnants on the bottom of the pot can be. A round with PBW will sort them out easily. All you have to do when cleaning with hot water, add just a little bit of PBW, mix it up, and let it sit. in the pot. All of that burned-on garbage comes right off
  • Stainless steel never looked so clean after an overnight soak!
  • PBW is environmentally friendly, biodegradeable, and will not harm septic systems
  • You can also clean your dish washer with it! In fact you can clean any stainless steel utensils and equipment with it - that's why it's so versatile as a cleaner for home brewers
  • If you need to remove an odour that is coming from some organic substance PBW will remove the substance and the accompanying odor. So it's great for cleaning up old brewing equipment that might need a bit of love before it's used again
  • Doesn't burn skin as other chemical agents can (like say Sodium Hydroxide) or create a strong pungent smell like other heavy duty cleaners

But wait, that's not all!

PBW has plenty of uses that might not seem so obvious for home brewing

Say you've been a little bit lazy and you haven't cleaned your beer bottles and the sediment has dried out at the bottom of the bottle.

Have you ever tried getting that crap out?

It's a real bitch to do, trust me. 

Why waste time with a bottle brush that just can't reach everywhere when you can soak all your bottles in Powdered Brewery Wash.

It's also handy for removing pesky labels from beer bottles that you want to use for homebrew. Give them a good soak and those labels will come off in no time. 

You can also clean your carboy or fermentor too! And we all know how easy is to think, heck, I've bottled my beer, I'll clean the fermenter next weekend...

That weekend becomes a month and suddenly all the brewing scum is as impenetrable as Fort Knox. A soak with PBW will sort that for you.

Odds are, if you let that fermenter soak overnight in the solution, you won't need to do any scrubbing, simply rinse it off with the hose and you'll be sweet. 

It's really easy to use PBW! 

The instructions are simple. It's just three easy steps:
  1. It's best used to soak your brewing gear over night to easily remove stubborn, caked on organic deposits without scrubbing.
  2. Use 1 - 2 ounces per gallon for cleaning boil kettles, or an ounce per gallon for fermenters, kegs, carbouys and other brewing equipment. 
  3. A quick rinse in the morning and you are ready to get brewing again!

So what do other users say about this cleaning agent?

The average review for PBW by Amazon reviewers is 5 out of 5. That's 100 percent of reviewers believing this cleaning agent does the business, and that's what you want. You don't want to muck around, you just want clean and sanitized beer equipment!

Powdered Brewery Wash is not a sanitizer!

Let's get this super clear. PBW is for washing and cleaning your brewing equipment. It will not necessarily kill the bugs that might linger. Before brewing, and after ensuring you have clean gear, you must sterilize the fermenter and any gear you are using including any spoons, funnels or other utensils. 

Many home brewers often use Star San. Like PBW, Star San is highly rated in the home brewing beer community as a sanitisation agent. A great thing about is that it is a no rinse agent. You spray or briefly soak your gear with it and you are good to go. Star San is very well priced on Amazon.

What are the active ingredients found in PBW?

The main ingredient is about 30% Sodium Metasilicate. It's chemical formula is Na2SiO3 and it's what kicks grease and beer smega to the curb. If you want to be brave and buy the main ingredient in bulk, there's plenty of value on offer on Amazon.

Another key component is sodium percarbonate. Don't get confused with sodium bicarbonate which is sued for things like baking and cleaning! The percarbonate is a really excellent cleaner of beer gear, and we use it often. 

Want to know a secret about percarbonate?

It's laundry soaker.

That's right, the powder you use to get your whites whiter and brights brighter is sodium percarbonate!

So if you want a cheaper substitute for PBW, you could use the second active ingredient in it and simply go into your laundry and grab the soak. Napisan, Oxiclean and many of those common and generic household brands have percarbonate in them.

To be fair though, the percarbonate is probably best for sanitising where as the metasilicate is the stronger cleaner. Combining them meanings you get the effect of PBW - so if you are looking to make a DIY cleaner using a combo of household products might have the desired.

An example of this is a combo of TSP/90 (AKA Red Devil) and Oxyclean in a ratio of 30% TSP/90 and 70% Oxiclean.

So, I'm convinced, where can I buy this wonder cleaner?

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