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What is the best homebrew sanitizer for making beer?

best products for santization

Chances are you found this page because you are looking for the best sanitiser to use with your homebrewing.

Smart move, brewer.

You know why right?

You know because every decent beer maker knows that to make a good beer you need to have all your equipment and bottles sanitized so that your brew is not spoiled by nasty bacteria.

Have you ever had a batch ruined by a lack of proper cleaning or sanitisation?

So then, let’s cut to the chase, here’s a list of what are the best sanitizers to use when making beer or even cider or wine.

Choose what you want but no whining about ruined beer if you don’t properly prepare your gear before you make that wort!



Star San - the best comes first

Product Details

If you want to use a product that will destroy all the microorganisms that could screw up your beer, then Star San is the sanitizer for you.

It's described formally by the manufacturer as "a self-foaming acid sanitizer ideal for brewing, dairy and other food and beverage equipment."

It is an extremely effective bactericide and fungicide and is not affected by excessive organic soils. Star San also reduces water spotting and can be used without rinsing under the proper concentrations. STAR SAN is a blend of phosphoric acid and dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid."

So as bonus then, when using Star San there is no need to rinse it from your beer bottles or the carboy when can be pretty handy when all you wanna do is make beer!

One can use Star San as a spray on or for soaking gear and beer bottles. Used at a ration of one ounce to 5 gallons of water it will do a damn fine job of keeping those bacteria at bay.

It is probably the most well known and well recommended sanitizing product known for home brewers.

This bloke said of his use of it in his Amazon review:

"This works great and is very easy to use. I just followed the directions on the bottle and had no issues. I like that it doesn't have to be completely rinsed just allowed to dry."
The only down side is that the manufacture knows this and you can be charged an arm and a leg for it!

Iodophor


iodophur for home brewing cleaning
Iodophor is another popular sanitiser adopted by the beer brewing community. Iodophor has been traditionally used by the food service industry and medical industry to sanitize equipment but it works just fine on your brewing gear.

Iodophor is a three-things-in-one iodine product. It's a detergent, germicide and sanitizer.

The solution takes approximately 10 minutes to sanitize your equipment and like Star San, it's a no rinse product when used at the recommended concentration.

This Amazon review is telling:


"I had been using bleach to sterilize my stuff but too often had bleach aftertaste in my beer. Since moving to BTF Iodophor, my batches taste great and have the hoppy aftertaste I want and not a mix of hops and bleach."

It is a good idea to keep it way from your clothes because it will stain them. So wear old clothes when preparing your solution and be careful!

That said it is odourless, tasteless, and easy on your hands.

Powdered Brewery Wash known to many as PBW


This cleaning product was originally used widely used in commercial breweries (hence the name) but over time countless home brewers across the country have cottoned on to how they can use it for sanitizing their brewing equipment. 

It's one of the most commonly used santisiers and for good reason as it works!

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. If you are looking for some guidance about how to clean your brewing equipment, they will probably say use this powdered wash.

PBW is also pretty handy for removing beer labels from bottles.

Make your own substitute PBW with basic ingredients


You can also make your own version of PBW as a substitute using ordinary home products.

Basically what you do is combine a home brand like TideOxiclean, or Napisan with a product that has metasilicate as an ingredient - we've found that many home DIY brewers use a cleaner called Red Devil TSP/90 to fill that part of the equation. Mix them together in 70 / 30 ratio in favour of the laundry soak and you've a home DIY sanistizer!

Now this last one is a pehaps a bit of a surprise however, it's tried and true for many home brewings.

Are y'all ready for this?

Laundry soakers as sanitizer


That's right, it's probably already sitting on your laundry shelf.

Here's a handy trick, this chemical is basically what you might know as Tide or Napisan or any product with a brand name that tries to use the word 'oxy' as in oxygen cleaning or oxidization agent.

That's right, most of the fancy laundry soaking products have sodium percarbonate as a key ingredient!

Chances are you already have some in your home laundry so feel free to use that.

I have done so several times with no problems whatsoever!



Bleach


When I was a young lad I used to work as a cleaner in a butchery. Once of my jobs was to clean the bin which housed all the meat scraps and bone that could not be made into mince or whatever.

That bin sat outside all week until Thursdays when it was emptied and then it was my job to clean it.

Because you know, maggots.

So I would prepare a bleach solution to clean it out, kill the maggots and most importantly get rid of that smell that was created when the hot sun beat down on that damn bin all week.

One week I managed to accidentally kick the bucket of bleach solution over and it went all over one of my brown boots.

No big drama right?

No drama until I looked down a short while later and my boot had turned mostly orange.

And that's when I learned truly the power of bleach!

But brewers have known for much longer that bleach can be used to clean home brewing equipment.

It's pretty cheap, readily available at supermarkets and it does the job of clean bugs and bacteria in its path.

All you need to do when using bleach is to make up a solution with the ration of 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water ( or 4 mls per liter). You then need to soak for about 20 minutes and the santization should be done.

The thing about bleach though is that it can have a bit of a strong pungent smell. While at the suggest use ratio, you probably don't need to rinse it off your gear, we strongly recommend that you do.

Given that Star San is pretty much good to go after less than a minute of contact, we suggest that if you can afford it, you use that and don't muck around with bleach.

It might stop up from changing your shoe color too!

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There are other options out there too - caustic soda, using boiling water, cooking in an oven and using an autoclave etc.

So there you have, there's plenty of choices out there for the best homebrewing santisizer. To our mind, it comes down to three areas of choice:


  • The more you spend, the better the quality and ease of use - so it's clear then that PBW and Star San are the best bets there 
  • If you are lookin for a mid range price, try a product with sodium percarbonate 
  • If you want cheap and cheerful with a longer sanitization time, you'd go with a standard bleach. 

In the end, all roads lead to Rome!

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