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A Guide to Cleaners and Sanitizers

No rinse? Sanitizer? Cleanser? What's the difference? Stop the insanity! There has to be an easier way, right? Well you're in luck because below is a quick reference guide to confusingly named cleansers and sanitizers.

Sanitizers 

Star San, Iodophor, Saniclean, Easy Clean, IO Star, and One Step.

These kill microbes and surface bacteria and make equipment safe to use with beer. The most important component in your brewery. Without sanitizers beer would be full of other organisms that turn beer sour and undrinkable. A key feature of these sanitizers is that they're "no-rinse" so your equipment can be soaked in sanitizer and then immediately used for brewing which reduces any risk for re-contamination. A note: some sanitizers are not classified as such by the FDA (like Easy Clean and One Step), but for brewing purposes, they work as well as those that are. For some reason, many include the word "clean" in the name. Don't be fooled, all the above mentioned products are effective sanitizers.

Cleansers

B-Brite, and PBW.

These are not sanitizers, they remove surface grime and particulates and are cleaners. These are essential to allow sanitizers to do their job. You can't sanitize a surface if it's not clean of grime and debris, which is where cleaners come in. These products should be used on bottles, fermenters, and other equipment which has extended contact with beer. Cleaners should be rinsed after use. That's the quick guide. Both cleaners and sanitizers are essential components of any home brewery, but they only work when you use them right. Now go, and ferment!