A Pictorial Guide to Homebrew Sanitising

From the multiple articles I have read, plus the podcasts I have listened to, and the general advice from others, sanitising is quite possibly the most important part of the brewing process. If bacteria gets into the wort, siphon, carboy or bottle, you risk ruining your beer. Soap and water are the standard way to clean most things. For the bottles and carboy, a food safe sanitising agent is recommended. You can use household bleach, just be sure to rinse really well, it is not food nor human safe (I did my own research). Scalding the glass carboy and bottles with hot water is also useful. I scalded the plastic bottles with hot water, some of them warped. Oops. Be careful with that.

If after the sanitising process, the siphon and/or hose still has a beer smell, you might need to simply soak separately in a sanitising solution for a while. If the smell does not go away, it is a good idea to replace it.

Soap and water, the tried and true friend for cleaning.


You might need to take a brush to the bottle


Add a small amount of sanitiser to the bottles, then fill with (scalding) hot water. Scalding hot is not good for plastic bottles.


Don’t be afraid to take the brush to the bottles, sediment in the bottle may need to be scrubbed off.


Rinse the bottles with (scalding) hot water, and invert to drip dry.


This is an extreme case of a dirty airlock, there was some kreusan overflow.


Soak the dissembled airlock in a small amount of sanitiser with hot water. Once it is clean, rinse well with hot water, and allow it to drip dry.


This carboy was just emptied, after a bottling. It is an extreme example of being dirty. Give it a really good rinse with hot water before continuing.


Add a small measure of sanitiser to the carboy, and fill with scalding hot water.


Allow the carboy to soak for a while. The sanitising agent may react with the remnants, once the bubbling has subsided, you are good to continue,


Take the brush to the carboy, and give it a good scrubbing.


This is a two for one special, siphon the sanitiser solution from the carboy. This will in part, also clean the siphon. Once drained, fill with hot water and siphon again.


Once drained, invert the carboy, and allow it to drip dry.

There you have it, sanitised homebrew equipment, ready for your next batch. As I outlined in a previous post on the home economics of homebrewing, water consumption is quite high. This exercise cleaning up during this batch was about 16L or 4 gallons of water. I am acutely of this usage, as I had to cart extra water by wagon, to the trailer, as depicted below.