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Many batches ago I abandoned the sanitizing solutions sold (at ridiculous markups) from standard homebrew stores in favor of OxiClean Free. My logic at the time (being out of sanitizer, and at a grocery store) was that the active ingredient in OxiClean was sodium percarbonate, and the active ingredient in One Step was also sodium percarbonate.

I haven't had a skunked batch yet, but inductive reasoning doesn't always lead you to the truth - so what is the general consensus on OxiClean as the sole equipment sanitizer?

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up vote 17 down vote accepted

Oxiclean isn't a sanitizer, it's a cleaner. You can see here for the difference (What is the difference between Clean, Sanitized and Sterilized?). If you're fairly clean it might not matter, but using oxiclean will not kill bacteria; it will only remove a fair amount of it.

That being said, I believe you're close; the brewery cleaners and oxyclean (free) do have the same active ingredient. There is one major difference, however, and that is that the cleaners made for breweries are no-rinse (when used in the correct concentration). Oxyclean requires a rinse after use. That's what you're paying the extra for, the ability to use it without re-introducing bacteria from your local water supply.

I use oxyclean in a pinch, but I always sanitize with StarSan afterwards. I'll also use oxyclean to clean labels off of bottles, etc. But, again, I always rinse afterward.

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Seconded on using as a cleaner but not sanitizer. Especially the first time I use some bottles I run them through an OxyClean soak to remove labels and such. Rinse and sanitize after and you're all set! – mummey Nov 16 '10 at 18:55

You might want to give the cleaning episode of the Brew Strong podcast. Jon Herskovits of Five Star Chemicals is in that episode, and they talk about the differences between cleaning and sanitizing,etc.

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And then listen to the sanitation episode: thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/469 – sgwill Nov 16 '10 at 17:22

I never found One Step to be a very effective sanitizer. Some informal experiments I did years back showed that OxiClean seems to sanitize, but I'm not satisfied enough with those results to give up using StarSan. Yes, it's expensive, but it's also very effective. And it's not as expensive as losing a batch of beer to infection.

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Great point: "And it's not as expensive as losing a batch of beer to infection" – sgwill Nov 16 '10 at 19:14
It may be somewhat expensive, but bottles of StarSan last a long time for me. I usually only use 0.5 oz per brew day, which makes 2.5 gallons of sanitizer. I fill a spray bottle with some of the solution and liberally spray things that need to be sanitized. – Dustin Rasener Oct 20 '11 at 11:27

As mentioned above, oxiclean is a cleaner, not a sanitizer. I strongly recommend picking up some BTF Iodophor solution for sanitizing. 2 capfuls of solution is enough to sanitize a standard 5 gallon carboy, keg, etc. Great stuff

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