So it's that time of year where none of the local shops are open (at least in my area) and I am itching to put on a new brew but haven't got any sanitiser.

I thought some Napisan (I believe AKA OxiClean - sodium percarbonate for washing clothes) might be useable but my research shows otherwise.

What can I find around the home that I can use to sanitise my gear? It's mostly plastic so I don't think I can use heat treatment. I usually use no-rinse but I doubt I'll have that luxury! If applicable, what steps will I need to take to treat after sanitisation?

7 Answers 7


Your best bet is probably Bleach. Here's the excerpt from How To Brew

The cheapest and most readily available sanitizing solution is made by adding 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water (4 ml per liter). Let the items soak for 20 minutes, and then drain. Rinsing is supposedly not necessary at this concentration, but many brewers, myself included, rinse with some boiled water anyway to be sure of no off-flavors from the chlorine.

  • bleach isn't that great -- the chlorine can really cause some nasty off flavors so you've gotta rinse.
    – tkone
    Jan 3, 2012 at 15:49
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    @tkone yup, you probably should rinse which is more or less what John Palmer said in that quote. Bleach would be a last resort for me, but it seemed like a perfect solution to the question.
    – sgwill
    Jan 4, 2012 at 18:42
  • The recommendation is right, but the instructions on that page are wrong.
    – Wyrmwood
    Nov 9, 2017 at 19:14

You can use iodine; it should be available at the drugstore.

Dilute 1 tablespoon in 5 gallons and you've got a no-rinse sanitizer.

  • The dilution depends on the active iodine percentage. Be sure to hit 12,5 ppm. Here is a online calc for any concentration, after a long explanation about it, but in portuguese: cervejarte.org/blog/2009/07/20/…
    – jards
    Nov 10, 2014 at 10:05

The recipe recommended by JoeFish (home made no-rinse sanitizer) on the homebrewtalk.com wiki has been deleted, so I'm reproducing it here, as rescued via the wayback machine:

For all of you wondering, yes you can make your own sanitizer at home. I recommend a good commercial no-rinse sanitizer (NRS) like Star-San, Iodophor, etc. In a pinch though, there is a simple solution to your sanitation dilemma (pardon the pun).

Everyone has heard the home brewers warnings about bleach and the brewery, and they are right. However, the man himself Charlie Talley (manufacturer of Five Star Chemicals, makers of Star-San) spoke about a homemade concoction that kills just as well in the event of large scale sanitation or the using up of your favorite sanitizer. Charlie recommends an accurately measured solution be made from the "dreaded" bleach, water, and house hold distilled white vinegar.

A mixture ratio of 1 oz distilled white vinegar to 5 gallons of water is thoroughly mixed, and then 1 oz of household bleach is added only after the vinegar is diluted in the water will work perfectly. This high dilution of the vinegar in the water before the bleach is added prevents any out-gassing of chlorine from the bleach that is added at the end. The vinegar actually helps the bleach work as a better sanitizer due to acidifying the solution more. The high dilution also means it leaves no residual tastes behind of bleach or vinegar, making it a perfect "cheap" no-rise sanitizer.

And for those of us who use metric, that's 5 gallons of water, then 30 ml vinegar, then 30 ml of bleach. Or for a smaller mix, 1 gallon of water, then 6 ml of vinegar, then 6 ml of bleach. (The bleach and vinegar order can be switched, so long as they are never mixed directly.)

Note that this is a more dilute solution than traditional bleach sanitizer, but it is equally effective due to the mild acidification. It is supposed to be no-rinse, but some brewers say even very small amounts of chlorine will form compounds we can smell, such as chlorophenols (supposedly detectable at 0.3 ppb). If this is correct, bleach is not an ideal solution unless rinsed or allowed to evaporate.

  • Just keep in mind this exceeds the recommended amount by 33%.
    – Wyrmwood
    Dec 1, 2018 at 1:36
  • @Wyrmwood can you elaborate?
    – piojo
    Dec 1, 2018 at 7:36
  • @Wyrmwood I see what you mean from your answer, but since there is no valid "limit" from any official or scientific guidelines, I beg to differ. It's exactly the amount recommended by some smart people, and too little or too much as suggested by other smart people.
    – piojo
    Dec 1, 2018 at 9:33
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    Yes, I was incorrect. Talley actually recommends 80 ppm which is 1 oz. However, the varying numbers are because 50 ppm is required for submerging (which is 20 ml for 5 gallons or about 4 tsp), and 200 ppm is required for spraying (the 1 tbsp per gallon). This is why John Palmer's says 4 ml (but he then incorrectly says use 1 tbsp per gallon). 6 ml per gallon is more than is needed for submersion, but it is indeed what Talley recommends.
    – Wyrmwood
    Dec 2, 2018 at 13:09
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    @Wyrmwood Sorry for my presumption. The two additional concerns in homebrewing are that it must not stress the yeast when diluted an additional few hundred times, and that it should not cause off-flavors when exposed to fermentation chemicals like ethanol, acetaldehyde, and anything else yeast produces. Though I hate quoting big names, Murl Landman of National Chemicals (BTF) said 25 ppm of iodine (no-rinse according to the FDA) is NOT no-rinse for homebrewing because too much iodine in the must will interfere with the yeast. homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/iodophor-subsitute.271298
    – piojo
    Dec 3, 2018 at 1:02

If you are in a super pinch and don't have any chemicals, boiling water is a great sanitizer/sterilizer. Steam works even better since it's at a higher temperature than boiling in an enclosed environment.

Metal and glass equipment can be put in an oven and baked at 250f and that will kill pretty much anything.

Both methods won't clean much off your equipment but you will have sanitized crud on it!


I know John Palmer recommends using bleach, however, his instructions on the web site are wrong. 1 tablespoon is almost 15ml. It's no wonder he recommends rinsing as at 1 tablespoon per gallon you're adding 75ml which is way over his 4ml per gallon recommendation. Even 1 teaspoon per gallon would be 5 ml per gallon (which is likely what he meant to write). Some also recommend 1 oz for 5 gallons, but that's also too much, about 6ml per gallon.

To make sanitizer from bleach, you should add 4 teaspoons bleach to 5 gallons of water and 4 teaspoons white vinegar to water (don't mix bleach and vinegar - add both to the water, otherwise you can create toxic chlorine gas). The vinegar will ensure proper pH and makes the mixture the benchmark for sanitizing. Here's the Charley Talley Interview this information is sourced from.


I've never used it myself, but here is a recipe for homemade no-rinse sanitizer.

Edit to note the recipe comes from Charlie Talley of 5-Star Chemicals, who produce the commercial no-rinse sanitizer Star-San.

Safety note: this recipe uses both vinegar and bleach. Mixing them directly together can produce chlorine gas, which can kill you. The recipe specifically notes to dilute the 1oz of vinegar in 5 gallons of water first before adding the 1oz of bleach. This high dilution and indirect mixing prevents that problem.

  • *which produces? I'll have to consult english.stackexchange.com :)
    – JoeFish
    Dec 29, 2011 at 15:16
  • 3
    I really can't get behind the average person mixing vinegar and bleach in the same solution. If you get the ratios off, you'll be producing a poisonous gas, with the potential to kill you.
    – baka
    Dec 31, 2011 at 19:41
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    You're entitled to your opinion, but that seems a bit alarmist when we're talking about 1oz of each in 640oz of water. The text also specifically says to dilute the vinegar before adding the bleach. JMO, of course. But then I sometimes run with scissors, so I'm a little crazy :)
    – JoeFish
    Dec 31, 2011 at 23:05
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    The problem is that if someone doesn't understand the chemistry and decides to make it "stronger", they may injure themselves and people around them.
    – baka
    Jan 9, 2012 at 13:09
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    The same could be said of bleach alone, Star-San, or a million other household chemicals that are normally safe. While I agree with the warning that mixing the two chemicals can be dangerous, I don't feel we need to censor an effective and safe recipe because some people do ignorant things with its ingredients. My opinion, of course. And this isn't the place to discuss opinions. I will update my answer with a warning about the dangers of mixing the chemicals and leave it at that.
    – JoeFish
    Jan 9, 2012 at 14:12

I use oxiclean to clean, with a thorough rinse (usually 2 or 3). then Star San to sanitize.

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