Sterilisation (or how to learn to love your yeast)

Brewing despite being centered around encourage a fungus to turn your sugar into alchohol is a remarkably CLEAN affair. So much so that the slightest pieces of dirt or unclean equipement can cause actual bacterial infections of your brew.

The way to prevent this is simple. Clean everything which will be coming into contact with the brew such as:

  • Spoons and other utensils (such as scales)
  • Turkey Baster (For getting samples)
  • Fermenter (ESSENTIAL since it will be in this for at least 5-7 days)
  • Any jugs or other containers things will be sitting in
  • Thermometer (it will be dipping in the brew at some point)

The idea of brewing is when the yeast is pitched it is fighting some fierce “beach landing” where its trying to become the dominant fungi… i know how it sounds…


So in order to help the yeast multiply quickly we are giving it “ideal conditions” free of opposing bacteria and such. Yeast makes alcohol from sugars in order to kill off other bacterias etc since most bacteria are killed by alchohol (The yeast is sadly unaware of our impending plan to eat it)

Good cleaning practice comes from a couple of products i recommend:

Soda Crystals

These rock, you can get them in wilko for about 75p a massive bag. It’s a coarse powder which mixes with water to form a nice cleaning solution which rinses off easily. THIS IS NOT FOR STERILISING but since bacteria can live in dirt its important to remove ALL VISIBLE dirt. Once you have wiped this all over you can let it stand for a bit then rinse off with no trace.

Steriliser Powder

Youngs sell sterilising powder which is essentially Sodium Metabisulphate which is an anti fungal agent. It stops other nasty stuff growing on your fermenter while the yeast does it’s thing and will kill some of the bacteria already on. Best idea is to soak stuff in this for a bit to get max effect.

Special Brewery Grade Steriliser

Most brew shops and mail order places will do some “Brewery Equivilent” cleaner which is usually a combo of the above 2 and stronger. Very very effective at killing germs, bacteria and cleaning also.

Thin Bleach

This can be used to wash equipment and is quite easy to rinse off, but you MUST rinse a lot as bleach is very toxic. Make sure to NEVER use things like Domestos which are very thick and will cling. MAKE SURE TO GET “THIN” BLEACH (Basically the cheapest one is usually THIN bleach)

Other Stuff you will need:

Non stick scouring pads

Since germs etc can live in scratches try to get sponges which do not scratch. E.g. NOT brillo pads (they also have nasty cleaners in potentially)

Fresh cloths

Just buy cheap cloths and use a different one each time to be safe.

Tips for easy cleaning:

If you can find a large plastic container with a lid (Or a glass jar from IKEA would do if it has a seal on top) you can leave your utensils such as thermoeters, spoons, sponges and anything else just sitting in some of the steriliser liquid, this will keep it clean till you need it. Just rinse before use.

Fermenters, barrels and bottles not in use can be filled with this liquid or at least part filled to keep them clean till use. Cleaning after you brew saves a lot of time trust me. Nothing wose than dried on gack.


Put some of the steriliser mix in a cheap spray bottle to dispense easily in small amounts when you need to.