Cleaning & Sanitizing
Cleaning and sanitizing is not a one step process. Cleaning is the process of removing organic and inorganic (mineral) contaminants from your equipment. Until these have been removed, your equipment cannot be effectively sanitized. Sanitizing is the process of eliminating most of the microorganisms and creating an environment which is inhospitable to them. Sterilizing is the process of killing all microbes including their spores which is virtually impossible in the home fermentation environment.
The most important part of making good beer, wine, mead, cider or cheese is sanitization.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to maximize the effectiveness of your cleaning and sanitizing efforts:
§ Dirty equipment will always contain bacteria.
§ You can only sanitize clean equipment.
§ Use cleaners and sanitizers as directed by the manufacturer. Never think that if a little is good, then a lot is better. Generally, ‘a lot’ is bad. Higher concentrations don’t always work as well requiring more water to rinse leaving a chemical residue.
§ Cleaners and sanitizers can only do their job when they come in direct contact with soil or surface. This means that cleaners must come in contact with all surfaces and hand cleaned followed by a rinse or soak with sanitizer (depending on the requirements of the sanitizing agent).
§ Always add cleaning or sanitizing chemicals to water. Never add water to the chemicals.
§ Sanitizers are not cleaners and should be used only as the final step.
§ Some sanitizers like iodophor (pH 7), StarSan (pH 3 or below) and to a lesser degree metabisulfite are pH sensitive. So, observe the requirements of the agent you have chosen to avoid creating a breeding ground for bacteria rather than a sanitizer.
§ Keep track of what is sanitized and what is not. Don’t’ put sanitized items like racking tubes on unsanitized surfaces like a countertop.