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From NB Blog - Keeping It Clean

Keep It Clean

Dirt and microbes are the mortal enemy of every brewer – but proper cleaning and sanitizing can take your beer from good to great! Here are some tips on how best to remove ‘dirt’ from brewing equipment. What cleaner should you use and which should you not? How can you ensure your equipment is actually clean and can be sanitized? Let’s first talk about how to clean fermentors and fermenting equipment.

Dirt is a general term used to describe organic and inorganic build up. For beer and wine, the most common sources for ‘dirt’ are protein and mineral build up. They come from the grain, fruit, hops and water, and will adhere to plastic easily resulting in scale, scum and biofilms when bacteria start to grow. Your fermentor may appear to be perfectly clean, but this is deceiving and could be a recipe for disaster.

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So does this mean the whole “PBW soaking will eat your plastic fermentors” line is a myth? I soak for maybe half an hour, but haven’t done an overnight soak with better bottles or the big mouth for fear of degrading the plastic.

This is part of my reasoning to ferment in kegs. Sneezles61

We asked our friends at Five Star Chemicals, and it is definitely a homebrewing myth.

PBW will not damage plastic. It is non caustic and an oxygenated product so it will stop working after 10-12 hours. The worst thing that will happen if you let it sit too long is that the surfactants will come out of solution and the plastic will feel really slimy until you rinse it thoroughly.

How do you recommend cleaning used beer bottles? I usually brush clean and rinse after use and run them in the dishwasher. I store them till I need them and then rinse with PBW, invert rinse with water, re-run in the dishwasher using heat only, followed with a rinse with Star-San and inverted draining. I am now thinking that it would be best to wash with PBW ASAP after the bottle is used to avoid the build-up and then continue as at present.

I’ve always been concerned about dried scum scratching the inside of my fermenter it I scrub it directly. I just rinse out the excess trub, add PBW, and fill with hot water. After 4 hours I dump and rinse. No scrubbing, (or possible scratching), required. Just my 2 cents.

That’s overkill. Rinse them thoroughly with hot water after pouring. Sanitize them me store them upside down and you’re good to go.

When done drinking out of a bottle I rinse out twice and invert the bottle onto a dish rack. Then generally store bottles upside down or in cardboard box.

Right now dealing with an 20 year old glass carboy. Was clean and pulled off a good beer. I have the carboy with small amount of H2O and a sock I am using as a rag to slush around. This method has worked 100% in past. The opening is ~0.5" small. This morning realize the last 2% is actually in grooves built into the old carboy glass. So …

Rinse off bleach/iodine before using items using very clean potable or distilled water. If you’re using
bleach to sanitize, add one ounce of bleach to five Gs of water, followed by one ounce of white vinegar. Do not mix the bleach and vinegar together before adding to the water! The vinegar will make the water more acidic, which helps the bleach sanitize. Or…

Here is an old recipe for PBW. Go to your hardware store and buy some Sodium Metasilicate. Mix it with Oxyclean at a ratio of 2 parts sodium Metasilicate to 1 part Oxyclean. This stuff cleans like crazy.

Or just may toss the carboy in a dumpster :slight_smile:

And I thought my procedure was overkill… Here’s what I do:

Double rinse bottle right after pouring. Dry, store.

Bottle day, soak batches of bottles in PBW in sink for 5-10 min
Visually inspect each bottle for dirt
Double rinse PBW out
Soak in Star San
Transfer to clean dishwasher racks to drain until I have enough to bottle

I’m actually thinking of eliminating the PBW soak, just because the bottles are always pretty clean anyway.

Just my opinion, but there seems to be a lot of cleaning over kill and time spent handling.

I pour then jet rinse with hot water followed with cold water.
Store upside down in Fast Rack to dry.
Then drop in a 24 bottle case upside down. (Twenty-four bottle cases are free from local tavern if you have a lot of loose bottles purchased by the 6-pak.)

Bottling day.
Add a couple of ounces of Star San solution to each bottle. (Might get a Vinator someday.)
Shake and drain in Fast Rack.
Fill the bottle.

Only donated bottles, bottles with labels, or returns get a one time PBW cleaning.

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