The Best Homebrew Cleaners

July 9,2010 by 19 Comments

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

  • Cheap
  • Easy to find
  • Multi-Tasker


  • 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


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

  • Very good cleaner
  • Cheap
  • Multi-Tasker


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


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

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


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


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.

  • Cheap
  • Good cleaner
  • Multi-Tasker


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


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)

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


  • 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

  • Best cleaner for stainless steel
  • Cheap


  • 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?

Hey everybody, this is Billy Broas, from, and I’m down here in the basement of my new Denver house, or as I like to call it, the “beer cave.” This is where I do all my crazy homebrew experiments, and you’ll probably be seeing a lot of this place in upcoming videos.

So let’s talk about homebrew cleaners. Now you might have seen my video on sanitizers, so I should clarify the difference. If you don’t want to ruin your batch of beer with a nasty infection, you have to both clean and sanitize, and in that order. So you clean for the same reason that you clean your house, to remove dirt or grime or gunk, or anything visible like that from your equipment.

Now, you sanitize to remove those invisible germs or bacteria that can infect your batch of beer and ruin it. So the key thing here is that if your equipment is not clean, it can’t truly be sanitized. That dirt or grime can hide bacteria that your sanitizer can’t reach. Also, there are different products for both cleaning and sanitizing.

So what are the best cleaners? Well, there are a bunch, but I’ll show you the most common ones. I’ll start with what I call the general cleaners, and I use these on the majority of my equipment, like buckets, siphons, and carboys. And then I’ll mention a couple of what I call special-use cleaners.
So first up we have common household dish soap. The pros of this are that it’s really cheap and you probably already have it in the house. The cons are, you have to rinse like crazy to get rid of all those bubbles, and if you’ve used it before, you know what a pain in the ass that is. Now, the bad thing is, if any of this dish soap is left behind in your equipment, you’ll taste it in the beer, and it’ll kill your head retention.

Now, overall, I don’t recommend the soap. It’s okay if you really rinse it, but there are better cleaning products, and it’s really not worth dealing with the hassle.

So next up we have Oxi-Clean, and you probably already know how much I love this stuff. I talked about it in my video on how to remove beer bottle labels, and how great it is for that. But it really is my favorite overall homebrew cleaner. It’s really effective, it’s cheap—this is about $9.00 for this big tub, and you can use it for all sorts of stuff around the house.

Now, the cons are that it makes things a little bit slippery and hard to handle, and you also have to rinse pretty thoroughly, but it’s not as bad as dish soap. One thing about Oxi-Clean, make sure you get the kind with the green label, what they call Versatile Free. The other type has a perfume, and that can stick to your gear, and you don’t want that.

So next up, we’ve got PBW, and this is a similar product to Oxi-Clean, it’s an oxygen based cleaner. It works really, really well; in fact, I found that in some situations it works better than Oxi-Clean. The cons are that it’s a little bit expensive. It’s seven or eight dollars for this one-pound jar, and also you’re not going to find it at Walmart. It’s not readily available. You’ve got to get it from a homebrew store or online. So overall PBW is good to have if you have something really tough that you have to get out, but Oxi-Clean is my go-to cleaner.

Okay, now we have bleach. If you know me, you know I’m really not a huge fan of bleach. I talked about it in my sanitizer video, and I feel the same way about it for a cleaner. The pros are that it’s cheap and readily available, the cons are that it’s dangerous, it’s stinky, and you have to rinse like hell to get it off your equipment. You really don’t want this stuff getting into your beer. It’ll make it taste horrible. So just say no to bleach.

Now we’ll move on to the special-use cleaners. I use these for certain situations. The first is if you have a kegging setup and you want to clean your beer lines, and it’s a product called BLC. This is actually a different one called Superflush, it’s a more generic version. You’ll find that any good tap or line cleaner will work. It’s great to use, you put it in your keg, you pump it through with CO2 and you have crystal-clear beer lines. So it’s a great product.

So my other special-use cleaner is something called Barkeeper’s Friend, and I use this for everything I have that is stainless steel, so all my converted kegs, like this, my corny kegs, my pots, they all get Barkeeper’s Friend. It’s a light abrasive, so you can scrub it on with a sponge or a rag, and it’s also dirt cheap. This thing is about two dollars.

So to wrap it up, my favorite cleaners are Oxi-Clean for general cleaning, Barkeeper’s Friend for stainless steel, and BLC for beer line cleaning. So let me know what cleaners you use, and talk to you down in the comments. Cheers!

About Billy Broas

He is the founder of The Homebrew Academy, a BJCP beer judge, and the homebrewing expert on the Rocky Mountain PBS television show Colorado Brews. He lives in the fine beer town of Denver, Colorado.

19 responses to “The Best Homebrew Cleaners”

  1. mike says:

    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’s Brew Review

  2. 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!

  3. Jorge says:

    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…

  4. Vanessa says:

    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!

  5. Colin Wright says:

    Beer cave is lookin RIGHT!!!

  6. Tim B says:

    OxyClean for sure Billy!

    It does everything!

  7. Dad says:

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

  8. Billy Broas says:

    @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.

  9. Uncle Steve says:

    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.

  10. Jorge says:

    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…

  11. Billy Broas says:

    @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.

  12. sean says:

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

  13. Terry Fish says:

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

  14. Billy Broas says:

    @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.

  15. davey says:

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

  16. davey says:

    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..

  17. Billy Broas says:

    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 ; )

  18. John Lyness says:

    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. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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