The Best Homebrew Cleaners

by Billy Broas



Cleaning your homebrewing equipment isn’t glamorous, but it’s a crucial step in making great beer. Don’t confuse cleaning with sanitizing. Cleaning is done before sanitizing and its purpose is to remove dirt and grime. Sanitizing is performed to eliminate most of the bacteria that can infect your beer and potentially ruin it.

They are separate steps, and I’ve already done a video on the best sanitizers for homebrewing.

Here are the products most commonly used for cleaning homebrew equipment, and my picks for the best cleaners.

Dish Soap

I bet it’s sitting next to your sink right now. Dish soap will do the trick but you must rinse thoroughly to make sure none is left behind. Otherwise, it will leave a soapy taste in your beer and ruin head retention. If you do use it, try to find a perfume-free variety. Other than that, you’re better off using a different cleaner for the rest of your equipment.
Dish Soap
Pros

  • Cheap
  • Easy to find
  • Multi-Tasker

Cons

  • Difficult to remove all of the suds
  • Anything left behind will affect flavor and head retention
  • Not as good a cleaner as PBW and OxiClean

OxiClean

My #1 homebrewing cleaner. Cheap, very effective, and good for a variety of household uses. It’s even great at removing beer bottles labels. Just make sure you rinse it thoroughly.
OxiClean Versatile Free
Pros

  • Very good cleaner
  • Cheap
  • Multi-Tasker

Cons

  • Leaves equipment slippery
  • Best to use versatile free, which isn’t always easy to find

PBW

A common homebrewing cleaner, PBW is oxygen based and cleans very well. In fact, I’ve found that it’s the best cleaner out there. The only drawback is that it’s expensive and OxiClean is almost as good (plus much cheaper).
PBW Homebrew Cleaner
Pros

  • Performs better than all other cleaners
  • Almost all homebrew shops and websites carry it

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Leaves equipment slippery
  • You can find it at homebrew shops no problem, but the local Wal-Mart won’t have it

Bleach

Like soap, bleach is another item you probably have around the house. I’ve already mentioned that I don’t like it for sanitizing, and I feel the same way about its use as a cleaner. This is nasty stuff and not something you want to splash around on a messy brew day. It will clean, but so does PBW and OxiClean, and without the drawbacks of bleach.
Bleach
Pros

  • Cheap
  • Good cleaner
  • Multi-Tasker

Cons

  • Must rinse like crazy
  • A small amount will hurt your beer’s flavor
  • Stinky, nasty, shirt-staining stuff

BLC

If you have a kegging set up, you should have BLC on hand. You can put it in your kegs and pump it through your system to get your beer lines crystal clear. The generic alternatives work well too.
Beer Line Cleaner (BLC)
Pros

  • Great cleaner for beer lines
  • A little goes a long way

Cons

  • Not cheap, and just one more cleaner to buy

Bar Keeper’s Friend

A powder that is great for cleaning stainless steel. I use it on my converted kegs, pots, and corny kegs. It’s a light abrasive that you can scrub with a sponge to get out those tough stains. It’s smart to keep a container of this handy.
Bar Keeper's Friend
Pros

  • Best cleaner for stainless steel
  • Cheap

Cons

  • You’ll go through it fast
  • Again, one more cleaner to buy

My Top Picks – Summary

  • Best All-Around Homebrew Cleaner – OxiClean
  • Best Cleaner for Beer Lines – BLC
  • Best Cleaner for Stainless Steel – Bar Keeper’s Friend

What cleaners do you use for homebrewing?

Click Here to Read the Transcript

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

mike July 9, 2010 at 11:30 am

Oxyclean FTW!

That is all I use at this point. I have no kegs or big pots or anything so it is really the only thing I need. Nice video!

Mike
Mike’s Brew Review

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Peter at Simply Beer July 9, 2010 at 11:42 am

Cleaners, I use oxyclean when i want a good hard clean, other wise I usually use starsan, a sponge, and a hose at the end of a brew session. I don’t like the film left behind from Oxi, so I only use it after few brew sessions. The star san and sponge are working pretty well for me to clean off any grime. For my Taps and Keg Lines, BLC all the way, no exceptions.

I’ve never used Bar Keepers Friend, I’ll have to try that out on my kettles. Good tip!

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Jorge July 9, 2010 at 12:14 pm

I usually get bleach at the end of my brew session and rinse off well…

Bleach gets rid of any odors on my plastic bucket and has worked great for me so far… I sanitize everything with Iodophor, and I’ve never had a problem with bleach sticking to any of my equipment…

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Vanessa July 9, 2010 at 1:49 pm

We sanitize with Iodophor, but clean with C-Brite.

We use oxyclean, but mostly just for label removal and bottle cleaning; they get a rinse thru the dishwasher before bottling though to get rid of the slipperiness!

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Colin Wright July 9, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Beer cave is lookin RIGHT!!!

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Tim B July 9, 2010 at 10:17 pm

OxyClean for sure Billy!

It does everything!

Reply

Dad July 10, 2010 at 12:29 am

Nice job Billy! Hope to see the ‘Beer Cave’ in person soon.

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Billy Broas July 11, 2010 at 6:02 pm

@Mike It’s a great thing. Also good on those t-shirt stains!

@Peter Yea BKF is really good for the hop gunk I get plastered on the side of my kettles. BLC for sure on beer lines.

@Jorge If it works for you that’s all that matters. For some reason I always wind up wet when cleaning. Not good when bleach is involved!

@Vanessa I’ve heard C-Brite works pretty well too. Thanks for sharing your experience. They sure do get slippery don’t they?

@Colin Not bad eh? I spend waaay too much time down there.

@Tim B That seems to be the consensus!

@Dad Hope ya can come out here soon too.

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Uncle Steve July 12, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Billy,I hope your Dad invites me to come with him. ROAD TRIP! You need another “taster”. Love the Beer Cave. Like the clean cut look in the video too.

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Jorge September 18, 2010 at 1:38 am

I gave Oxiclean a try after hearing many brewers swear by it, and I do like it much better than bleach… I even took it a step further though (thanks to a good friend who is chemistry ‘smart’ unlike me), added a little TSP 90 and it’s supposed to be almost a good as PBW, only not as expensive…

You should try it…

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Billy Broas September 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm

@Jorge Welcome to the club! Oxiclean rocks. Even gets out all those BBQ stains on my white t-shirts. Good tip on the TSP. I’ve got a bunch of PBW still, but will give that a shot when it runs out and I need extra cleaning powder.

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sean October 5, 2010 at 4:44 am

i ues SEVENTH GENERATION 12DLF25, 25 OZ DISH LIQUID is good.

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Terry Fish October 10, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I run a exterior cleaning biz … I use OXI clean for cleaning asphlat shigles works great … It does not smell or kill plants …

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Billy Broas October 11, 2010 at 4:33 pm

@Terry Amazing what you can use oxiclean for, isn’t it? Thanks for the comment, and for reassuring me that it doesn’t kill plants. I’ve given my garden a quite a few oxiclean baths.

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davey March 1, 2012 at 10:40 am

Why do people spell it ” Oxyclean”? I always see it as Oxiclean.

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Billy Broas March 1, 2012 at 10:47 am

You know, I’m glad you brought that up. It’s always bothered me lol.

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davey March 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Hey Billy,

I saw your 5 kits you like. I ordered this one yesterday and it shipped out same day. I looked around awhile and couldn’t find one that touched it for the money. Let me know what you think..

https://bellsbeer.com/store/products/Deluxe-Brewer%27s-Best%C2%AE-Beer-Brewing-Equipment-Kit-w%7B47%7D-Better-Bottle%C2%AE.html

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Billy Broas March 2, 2012 at 8:45 am

That’s a solid kit, it will serve you well. The reason I recommend the MoreBeer one is because I prefer using a carboy for the primary, in which case you’ll want a 6 or 6.5 gallon one. They all make good beer though, if you use them right ; )

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John Lyness August 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm

OK,
Not sure if I can do this or not but I would like to post a link to Power Punch 22 our very unique user-friendly beer line cleaner. http://www.perma.com/cleaner/fgac1019.htm Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Reply

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