Friday, July 13, 2007

Cleaning and Sanitizing

There is a difference! Cleaning is only the first step in insuring that your beer or wine has as good a chance as possible of getting off to a good start. Sanitizing is the second step in this process. You cannot do one without the other!

Cleaning involves the use of a detergent which cleans away dirt, grime, residues, etc. from your fermenter and other equipment. There are many types of cleaning detergents available including tri-sodium phosphates (TSPs). My cleaning process actually begins when I finish a batch of wine or beer. I give my equipment a thorough cleaning with detergent (I use good old dishwashing detergent) and water immediately after racking my beer or wine out of the fermenter. This is the time when the residues are soft and the easiest to remove. After a thorough scrubbing with dish soap and water I give my equipment a thorough rinsing and turn it upside down to dry. When I am ready to brew or make wine again my equipment is relatively clean.

When I am ready to make another batch I again wash my equipment with dishwashing detergent and water and then thoroughly rinse the equipment with water prior to beginning the sanitizing of the equipment.

Most brewers and winemakers use either chlorine bleach or iodine solutions to sanitize their equipment. You can also use a "no rinse" cleanser. The products we sell at BlueStem Winery for sanitizing include B-T-F Iodophor Sanitizer (an iodine based sanitizer) and Easy Clean (a "no rinse" oxygen-based sanitizer). We have had very good luck using both of these products. Contact time with your equipment should be approximately 15 minutes.

A chlorine bleach solution should be mixed at the ratio of 2 tablespoons per gallon of water while an iodine solution should be mixed at a ratio of 1-1/2 teaspoons per gallon of water. Thoroughly rinse with good water after using these solutions.

Remember to always clean before you sanitize and to always rinse thoroughly (except after using a "no rinse" sanitizer).

You can find both B-T-F Iodophor and Easy Clean on the BlueStem Winery website at

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