Brewers Insights – Cleaning and Sanitising

Posted on 26th October 2020

This week, lets have a look at different products for cleaning and sanitising.

The range of products has increased hugely over the last year or so and I

would like to straighten out any confusion on what products are best for what

material at different stages of the brewing process.

It may be that you have been brewing for years using products that you are

familiar with, but actually there are now products that are easier to use and

more suited to the process. Equally the range can be a properly confusing for

new brewers

So broadly speaking there are 4 groups of products here. We have Chlorine

based cleaner / sanitisers, sodium percarbonate based cleaners, phosphoric

acid based sanitisers and products that make shiny things shiny after a brew.

VWP is available in package sizes from 100g up to 4kg, it has been around

from the year dot and is often the choice of people that have been brewing for

decades. It’s a chlorine based powder that you make up with hot water and it

both cleans and sanitises in one go. However, it needs thoroughly rinsing and

many of the brands that produce stainless brewing products including Ss

Brewtech and Brewtools strongly advise against the use of chlorine based

products on their equipment. So if you are using then then best stick to use on

plastic and glass.

When brewing I tend to look at cleaning and sanitising as two separate steps

and use the most appropriate product for each.

For cleaning almost all products are sodium percarbonate based, this is the

product that gives the OXI part of the name in washing powders. Just a

warning, do not get anything sodium percarbonate based on wood as it turns

it black, including my kitchen worktops!

The big advantage with these

cleaners being they are safe to handle, they are both non hazardous and non


Here we have our own brand, neat, sodium percarbonate, it is the most

economical way to buy it and is sold in 500g to 1.5kg packaging. This is a

powerful cleaner, used in warm or hot water, over 40c, on any surface at any

point in the brewing process, just sock the soiled item, anything from a few

minutes to over night is fine. It does need rinsing. One note, if you live in a

hard water area then this can cause a bloom to be left behind even once


This is where the branded products have an advantage, they include various

water softeners. However, obviously it does come at a price.

The range includes PBW, ChemClean, Chemipro Wash, StellarClean and The

Grainfather High Performance Cleaner. There are various packaging sizes

and prices. One thing to take note of is, some of them including PBW are

effective in cold water, they are also all very good in clean in place

applications. These can be used at any point in the brewing process and

again, they do need rinsing.

If you want to give one a try then an option is the 50g pouch of StellerClean, it

will make 5 litres of solution for just £1.

Once you have cleaned, the next step is sanitising. Anything that comes in to

contact with wort after the boil or finished beer need to be sanitised, this

includes wort chillers, fermenters, tubing, kegs, bottles, caps. If it is after the

boil or any equipment, if you are brewing a kit, sanitise it.

Using a no rinse sanitiser for this is by far the easiest way. These are

Phosphoric acid based products and most have a dilution rate of 1.5ml per

litre of water. They can be used as a spray, or you can submerge or even use

a soaked cloth to sanitise. The contact time is 30 seconds, then simply shake

off the excess and use the item. They have no effect on flavour or head

retention so no problem used with bottles or kegs. They are designed to foam;

this clings to the item and helps with the sanitising process.

These final products are our Bar Keepers Friend range. These are for when

you stainless kit is clean but may have some water spots. It’s available as a

spray, which is the mildest form. Simply spray on and polish off. The powder

and cream have abrasives and can tackle serious burnt on soiling, you can

keep stainless spotless with these products. Do bear in mind that all three of

these will fade etched logos and volume markings of stainless so avoid those


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