When sanitizing your carboys, do you fill them all the way up (6+ gallons) with sanitizer or do you put in less and swirl it around?

This may depend on what type of sanitizer is being used. I'm using StarSan, but I'm interested to hear the answer for other sanitizers as well.

  • As a side note, if you guys are tired of making sanitizer while brewing, look into No Chill brewing. No need for sanitizers on the brew day itself! Works like a charm for me, on my last 20+ batches.
    – GHP
    Jul 1, 2011 at 12:13
  • What would no-chill have to do with sanitizer?
    – jsled
    Apr 25, 2012 at 15:37

5 Answers 5


I use a that scrubby cleaner thing with some cleanser and maybe half a gallon of water to get all the particulates loosened up and get the surface clean. Then I rinse it with water, and put in maybe a quarter gallon or less of sanitizing solution, just enough to make sure I touch every surface with it. The carboy doesn't need to be immersed in it, it just needs to have some sanitizer get on it for about a minute for it to be effective. Then I pour out the solution and let it dry, easy!


This is specific to Iodophor, but the manufacturer states that you do not have to fill a carboy up to sanitize with it. As long as you slosh enough around to get all the surfaces wet, then the sanitizer will work. Star San would work the same way, just make sure the foam touches all parts of the carboy. No need to waste sanitizer and water by making more than a gallon of solution, if you are just cleaning that one carboy.

Edit: Also, specifically for Iodophor, we home brewers typically make the solution WAY TOO STRONG. If you mix it to the proper concentration, the solution will appear like normal water with just a tinge of color. If its as dark as, say, tea, then you are making your solution too strong.

  • Additionally, I keep a large bowl to reuse the sanitizing solution for all the tiny pieces like stoppers and airlocks. I keep this bowl throughout brew day so that if I accidentally touch a part against something dirty, I can just dunk it in the sanitizing bowl.
    – Jerry C.
    Jun 30, 2011 at 22:24

I use iodine from the chemist for sanitation (it is not called Iodaphor, but it's essentially the same thing). I don't fill up the carboy, but just add a few drops to a couple of litres of water and swill it around for a bit.

The iodine is about 2% solution, and following Papazian's recommendation that equates to about a teaspoon in 19 litres (5 gal), or a couple of drops in a couple of litres. It is easy, non-toxic (in those concentrations), economical and seems to work!

  • Very cool, I might have to look into this once I run out of StarSan. However the bottle is huge and super concentrated so it may take a while...
    – pjreddie
    Jun 29, 2011 at 18:51
  • Glad this is useful. Should say that if you do start using iodine check the concentration of the bottle because it can vary, and in high doses iodine can be toxic.
    – Poshpaws
    Jun 29, 2011 at 18:59
  • 1
    There are concentration test strips you can buy that work just like pH strips. I used those in the beginning of my brewing and can now eyeball the right levels.
    – GHP
    Jul 1, 2011 at 12:11

At this point, I have a glass primary and secondary carboy. At the end of use, I scrub them with hot water and oxyclean. Then I add 2.5 or 3 gal of star san solution and leave it in the carboy for storage. I recycle my star san solution until it starts to look cloudy (although I saw an episode of brewing tv where they just used ph strips. They said as long as the ph was lower than 3, the solution was still good). On brew day I usually siphon or pour the star san solution into a clean bucket to use for sanitizing my other equipment, and at the end of brew day I transfer it into my secondary.

  • Oh... I forgot to mention that before using my carboy I lay them on their side and roll them around a bit to make sure the star san solution touches every surface.
    – forkmantis
    Jun 29, 2011 at 16:33

I've been making wine for over 10 years. B-Brite is the only "cleaner" I use. (Can't call it a sanitizer anymore, the feds want all kinds of money and a paper trail). 1 tbl spoon in a gallon or so of hot water, swish it around items and rinse 2 or 3 times. Never had a problem. Also works great for taking labels off bottles if you leave the bottles in a bucket for awhile. I usually leave it over nite, but in a pinch an hour is enough.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.