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There are actually 2 questions here. The first one is more of an opinion (although I would like to know), but the correct answer will only be awarded for the second question.

I have been researching online to find out what the best way is to clean and sanitise your equipment. From what I have gathered so far, I was going to use Oxiclean to clean my equipment, and Hydrogen Peroxide to sanitise it. These both seem to work well, are no rinse solutions, and are pretty cheap.

My first question is, are these good choices for this?

My second question is, what amount of these should I dilute them with, and how long do I soak my things for in order to ensure they are properly clean? Should I just use warm water?

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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Oxiclean is a fine cleaner, requiring just a few minutes contact to clean, depending upon how soiled the equipment is. As it's decomposition includes hydrogen peroxide, it can also be used as a sanitizer in sufficient dosage. Hydrogen peroxide is a great sanitizer, but there are some drawbacks

  • it's corrosive to metals, since the peroxide increases the amount of oxygen in contact with the metal
  • it requires full contact, so requires a full carboy of solution to sanitize a carboy
  • requires at least 5 minutes contact time
  • pure hydrogen peroxide requires no rinsing, but cleaners or sanitizers that contain compounds that break down to hydrogen peroxide (such as Oxiclean) do usually require rinsing.
  • cannot be reused - once made up into solution, the active ingredients break down to release oxygen. After a couple of hours, the solution has lost it's effectiveness.

For sanitation duties, you may want to consider StarSan instead. Here's how it stacks up

  • also corrosive to metals, but less so than peroxide. I've left a plate chiller in starsan for weeks with no harm done. Not recommended for storage in kegs, since pitting can occur at the liquid-air boundary.
  • doesn't require full contact. a small amount in the bottom of the carboy swirled around to cover all of the inside surfaces is sufficient.
  • contact time is 30 seconds
  • no rinse required
  • can be reused. stored in an air-tight container starsan can last for many months. I throw out usually because it gets too dirty, rather than that it's lost it's effectiveness.

For me, starsan is simply hassle free and much easier to use than hydrogen percarbonate or chlorine based sanitizers. Another good sanitizer is iodophor, although this requires full contact, and so not as convenient as starsan.

See

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Great answer. However, I'm not an expert, but I don't think Iodophor requires full contact. I believe I heard an interview with a guy pretty high up in that company that talked about Iodophor specifically for home brewing, and the gist of it was that (a) you don't need full contact, and (b) homebrewers typically make their iodine solutions WAAAY stronger than what it necessary. If your iodine solution looks golden, its way over-powered. It should probably be just faintly yellow-tinged. There are test strips you can buy to tell you the proper concentration too. –  Graham May 7 '12 at 13:12
    
So are you recommending oxiclean for cleaning and starsan for sterilization? Also what is the cost of starsan, and can I get it at a local store? –  Metropolis May 7 '12 at 14:01
    
I'm not sure about local stores, since I don't live in the US. You can get it from the big online homebrew stores, like nothernbrewer, more beer etc, often with discounted shipping (at morebeer, shipping is free for that product.) I have a 32oz container that's lasted me 5 years. –  mdma May 7 '12 at 14:04
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Use warm water - around 150-160F - and leave to soak for an hour. If you use higher concentrations then soaking time is less. But really you just have to do it to get a feel for it. –  mdma May 7 '12 at 14:25
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FWIW, higher concentrations than what's recommended in most cases is a waste of money on the reagent. Two higher concentrations can adversely effect certain equipment like vinyl aluminum and brass items. –  brewchez May 7 '12 at 23:38
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My process is simple and has never failed me.

  1. Oxiclean to remove all visible stuffs. rinse with warm water
  2. Fill a bucket with 5 litres of water and 1/4oz of StarSan, pour a bunch into an empty spray bottle, and the rest into fermenter/carboy/bottles.
  3. Spray all surfaces and anything that will be going near/in the beer after the boil is completed with the StarSan. Wipe dry after 60 seconds.

I have never had an infection using this method - and I brew in an apartment with two animals around and tons of plants and wood surfaces.

NOTE - when using StarSan DON'T FEAR THE FOAM - i rack and bottle into the foam every time and have never tasted anything or noticed any ill effects.

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The way I was taught, cleaners are used for anything visible, such as hop material at the top of a carboy or a tube filled with gunk, and sanitizer is for everything contacting your beer that you CAN'T see. Using a good sanitizer will reduce the population of bacteria on equipment surfaces to as low as possible.

I can't comment on oxiclean (which would be more akin to PBW), but generally soaking things in PBW will remove/loosen most things within a few hours or certainly overnight. Once it looks clean to the eye, a sanitizer will do the rest. I definitely recommend StarSan. It foams so you know it's working, doesn't discolor plastics, and just a minute or so of contact and you're good to go. It's also great to put in a spray bottle to check keg leaks and prevent boilovers.

PBW + StarSan is a great combo!

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+1 Great thanks for your input! –  Metropolis May 7 '12 at 15:56
    
I also use PBW, although have used oxiclean in the past. It's an alkali cleaner, and can be reused to some extent depending upon how soiled it gets and how long it's exposed to the air. –  mdma May 7 '12 at 18:46
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