Best Homebrewing Sanitizers

April 30,2010 by 29 Comments

Homebrewing sanitizers are a crucial ingredient to brewing great beer. But with so many on the market, which one do you buy? I’ve done the research for you and will explain the pros and cons of each, and give my recommendation for the best sanitizer.

BleachClorox Bleach

Very common household chemical and super cheap. Only a small amount will make a strong sanitizing solution.


  • Easy to find
  • Cheap
  • Powerful


  • Must rinse it out thoroughly. While rinsing you risk contaminating the equipment if your rinse water is not sterile. Rinsing also takes a lot of time and water, which costs money.
  • Harmful to skin, eyes, and clothes.
  • If any amount gets into your beer it will ruin the taste.

Overall: Bleach has a lot of uses around the house but sanitizing homebrew equipment shouldn’t be one of them. The rinsing is a time and water waster, and unless you use sterilized water you risk contamination. Also, if you’re like me, you tend to make a wet mess – not good with bleach. Go with a sanitizer that is made specifically for homebrewing.

One-StepOne-Step Sanitizer

Common oxygen based sanitizer that comes with many starter homebrewing kits.


  • No rinse
  • Good cleaner


  • No longer classified as a sanitizer by the FDA.
  • Many homebrewers treat it as a strong cleaner, and will not sanitize with it.

Overall: From what I’ve read, it sounds like One-Step isn’t classified as a sanitizer by the FDA because they don’t want to go through the approval process, so they may get a pass there. Still, if there is doubt, why risk it when there are better alternatives? You’re probably OK using One-Step, but I’d recommend you buy Iodophor or Star-San when it runs out.

IodophorIodophor Sanitizer

Very effective iodine based sanitizer that can be found at any homebrew store or bought online.


  • No rinse
  • Short contact time
  • Cheap


  • Will stain plastic equipment over time. Will also stain skin and clothing.
  • If too much is used (easy to do), it will leave a funny odor and stain badly.

Overall: A great sanitizer and one that I used for years. It’s used by a ton of homebrewers and if Star-San didn’t exist, I would easily rank it #1.


A very effective acid rinse sanitizer. Find it at any homebrew store or buy online.


  • Foaming helps get in cracks and crevices
  • No rinse
  • Colorless and odorless
  • A little goes a long ways
  • Can be reused as long as pH is below 3


  • Will make your hands very dry
  • The foam scares people, which is silly

Overall: Don’t fear the foam! Star-San is my #1 pick for the best sanitizer. Put it in a squirt bottle and you will use much less, and make it easier to sanitize your equipment. Mix it with distilled or reverse osmosis water and it can be reused many times.

What do you use to sanitize? Is it one of the ones I didn’t mention?


Hey everyone I’m Billy Broas from and I’m going to talk about sanitizers.

Now, every homebrewer knows that sanitization is key to making a good clean beer like this one. If you screw that up your beer is not going to be clean it is going to be infected, it’s going to have bacteria, it’s going to taste nasty, and your most likely going to have to dump it out. But, which sanitizer is the best one, because there are so many out there? So I’m going to go through the most common sanitizers, tell you the pros and cons, and give you my opinion about the best ones out there.

So the first one up is bleach, and a lot of homebrewers use this and you probably have it in your house right now. That’s really the benefit of it. It’s really common, and really cheap. this giant jug was seven or eight bucks at Wal-Mart. It’s powerful stuff. It’s going to do the job and sanitize, but the thing about it is, it’s not no rinse. Meaning you have to rinse off your equipment after you use it. That raises two problems. One, it takes more time. And two, you might contaminate your equipment when your rinsing it out, undoing everything you just did with the bleach. On top of that, it’s pretty dangerous, you don’t wanna get it on your eyes or your skin. And if you get it on your clothes you know what’s going to happen. You’re going to have a tie dyed shirt. So bleach is great, it has a lot of good uses, but sanitization is not one of them to me and I wouldn’t recommend it with all these other good ones. So, don’t recommend the bleach.

Next up is One-Step, and if you bought an equipment kit at one point it probably came with this, that’s fairly common. And unlike bleach this is no rinse, so that’s good it saves you time. This bag is very cheap, it’s three or four bucks, but you go through a lot of it, so these bags and the cost really add up. But the biggest drawback about One-Step is that many brewers don’t consider it a sanitizer. It’s really considered more of a strong cleaner. And you know that’s kind of up in the air, but there are better and more effective sanitizers out there. So my thing is, if there’s better options, why not go with those? You’re probably OK with the One-Step while you have it, but once you use it up I would move on to one of these next two that I’m gonna talk about.

Now we’re on to Iodophor and this stuff is great. It’s a no rinse, iodine based sanitizer. It needs a short contact time, only about a minute. It’s pretty cheap. This bottle was about twelve dollars and it lasts a long long time. It’s really effective. You don’t have to worry about anything if you use it right. It’s gonna sanitize all your equipment really well. Drawbacks of it – you can see it’s a dark brown color, and over time it will stain your equipment. In fact it stains everything. If you get it on your clothes, your hands, your kitchen counter. It’s only cosmetic on your equipment, but that might matter to you. It matters to me. Especially on you vinyl tubing on your siphons, it will definitely stain that. So Iodophor, I recommend it, a lot of homebrewers use it. I used it for years, but it’s not my favorite, but I will show you my favorite right now. So this is Star San and in my opinion it’s the best homebrewing sanitizer out there. It’s really effective stuff. It’s no rinse. It needs a short contact time – only about a minute. It seems expensive because this little bottle is about eight dollars, but here’s the thing, you can use it over and over again if you use distilled or RO water. So this little bottle ends up lasting a long, long time. Now, a lot of new brewers are afraid of using Star San because it creates a lot of foam, and they don’t want to mix the beer with the foam. But as we say, “Don’t fear the foam”. It’s not bad for it. I rack on to the foam all the time when I’m transferring my beer and it’s never been a problem. In fact, the foam is a nutrient for the yeast. It’s a yeast food. So it’s actually good for it.

So to wrap up here I’m going to show you a little trick with the Star San. It will make your life a whole lot easier. You can actually it into a spray bottle and sanitize your equipment that way. So for example if I’m transferring from my carboy and I want to sanitize the neck of it, which is a good idea, I just give it a little sprits and it makes it super simple to sanitize it. Plus you use a whole lot less and it will last a long, long time. So this is a handy thing to have around.

So those are my picks for the two best sanitizers. The two I really recommend are Iodophor and Star San. One-Step is OK but I would get off of it, and I don’t recommend bleach.

Thanks for watching, and I’ll 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.

29 responses to “Best Homebrewing Sanitizers”

  1. Adam says:

    You know anything about B-Brite? The lady at the homebrew shop was really trying to sell me on it, but I had not heard of it. I used bleach now, though, so shows what I know.

  2. Chris says:

    My only issue with Star San (besides occasional fear of the foam) is that it leaves stuff slippery. I like to put my airlocks in a sanitizing solution until I pitch my yeast. Once when using a Star San solution I could not get the plug/airlock in the carboy. It would slide right out. I went back to Iodophor, despite it staining all of my gear :)

    • Bert Proulx says:

      Chris, first off I have never brewed yet, I’m in afghanistan and researching/studying in my bit of off time. I just wanted to state that the first video I watched spoke of the same problem, that person used Sanitary Napkins to quickly dry the mouth of the Carboy before putting the plug in.

  3. Billy Broas says:

    @Adam I’ve never personally used B-Brite but from what I’ve heard it is similar to One-Step – more of a cleaner than a sanitizer. There are a lot of accounts of One-Step being pushed on people at homebrew shops b/c they know you’ll go through it fast. Could be the same deal. As for the bleach, you can definitely make great beer using it, and plenty of people do. If it works for you then that’s cool. I just suggest trying the others that you might like better.

    @Chris It’s funny, I’ve heard people talk about how slippery it is but I’ve really never noticed or had a problem with it. That would annoy the crap outta me though! Thanks for sharing the experience.

  4. Pete says:

    Hey Billy,

    Thanks for all your advice, I like the site. I bought my equipment over the weekend and made my first batch. Luckily, the NMA helped me so hopefully it turns out ok.


  5. Billy Broas says:

    @Pete Thanks Pete glad you like the site. Congrats on you’re first brew! The NMA knows what he’s doing so I’m you’re good. Be sure to let us know how it turns out.

  6. Thanks so much for this. I’ve been wondering what to get for my next sanitizer because my kit came with B-Brite and I wanted to switch to something that is a real sanitizer since that is running out. I think I’ll go with your suggestion on Star San.
    .-= Mike –´s last blog ..Dogfish Head Dinner – Thursday May 6th =-.

  7. SudsyMaggie says:

    When I started brewing I used iodophor – loved it! Less expensive, easy to use, no problem. It stained my hoses and tubing if I didn’t rinse right away, but they’re cheap and easy to replace. Last summer I ran out so gave Star San a try. I really like it! It’s a bit more expensive, but if you brew frequently it’s the best deal for your money because you can reuse it for quite a long time (just keep an eye on the pH & keep it covered). I haven’t been brewing as often so I tend to make a new batch each brew day, which is expensive and kind of a waste. I’m thinking about going back to iodophor next time I need to buy. And yes – I’ve had the same problem of the airlock not staying put, annoying but harmless.


  8. Brad says:

    How long will the Star San be effective once you’ve made it up with RO water? Love the site!

  9. Billy Broas says:

    @Brad I’ve gone a few months and that’s only because my stash ran out. It’s still effective if the pH is under 3. You can test it with those pool test strips. Most homebrew stores carry them.

  10. Dan says:

    Hey Billy,

    Any harm in letting things soak in Star San as you complete various tasks during the brewing process?


  11. Billy Broas says:

    @Dan Not at all, I do that all the time. On brew day I typically make the sanitizer batch during the boil and then throw in everything to soak until the wort is cooled. I’d say it’s a smart idea so you don’t forget and have to make a batch at the last minute.

  12. Randy says:

    Saw a guy on youtube using Sodium Metabisulfite. Any opinions on this stuff. I know you have to rinse it.

  13. Simon says:

    How do you store your equipment?

  14. Brennan says:

    If you mix the Star-San with water in the spray bottle, doesn’t it raise the pH and neutralize it? Water is a weak buffer. I am asking because you said the pH needs to stay below 3.

    • Billy Broas says:

      Hey Brennan. If you mix the Star-San at the recommended ratio then the pH will be in the target range. If you added additional water then you would go above 3 and that certainly wouldn’t be good. Good question.

  15. Jeff says:

    I have used B-Brite on all my batches of beer so far. They have all turned out great! Now that I am almost out I am going to go to Star-San. Going to give it a try. B-Brite os OK, Just looking for something better. Going to start making mead on the side and small batches and will try it on that. Knowing that a wine takes longer to make and any unsanitazed area will grow bad, bad stuff.

    Billy, Just found your site and love it. Great info!!

    • Billy Broas says:

      I feel exactly the same why – if there is something better, and there are really no drawbacks, why not use it? Thanks for the comment Jeff and welcome to the site.

  16. Corey says:

    Great site, great info. I used to brew a lot, but haven’t brewed beer in about 5 years. Just recently heard about kegging homebrew so my interest has peeked again :). I always used bleach for sanitizing with no problems, but you made a good point on the possibility of re-contamination and like you I make a huge mess and have ruined some clothes in the process lol. Think I’ll try star-san or iodophor when I start brewing again. Thanks for the awesome info.

  17. Matthew says:

    I’ve been homebrewing using bleach as a sanitizer, and yes, it uses a LOT of water. I’m just about to start kegging, and that’s when I heard of iodophor. I had heard of star-san before, but never looked up much info on it. This article has helped me lots, and I’m heading to my homebrew supplier soon to pick up the star-san. Thanks much!

  18. Jeff says:

    Here is the thing.

    I have been brewing for 30 years.
    I have never had an infected wash.

    If you are doing it right lactobacillus will protect your wash from other nasty’s
    If conditions are bad I will use a little bleach and water. The biggest issue with bleach is how much of it people tend to use. A 1/4 teaspoon in a gallon of water is enough to wipe out even just about any bacteria on the planet. If you lightly rinse and by the time you add 5 or ten gallons of wash it will be so dilute that it will not effect your yeast in the slightest.

    You want real protection? get UVb lab lights,

  19. Jim says:

    Has anyone used Beer Clean sanitizer? It’s main ingredient Trichloromelamine, but it’s supposed to sanitize glasses at the bar I’m working at. Could I use that?

  20. Zarn says:

    I have been brewing for 14 years. I use One Step to clean and Iodophor to sanitize. Never any problems. One Step for cleaning… I use 2 tablespoons of One Step in 5 gal. of very warm to hot water, mix it well and immerse your utensils for a minute or two or until they look clean. For carboys or cornies dump the full 5 gallons in the vessel and work it with a carboy brush until clean. Be careful with your glass as rapid temp changes between One Step and Iodophor solutions will crack a carboy or burst a Hydrometer ( don’t ask how I know this). Rinse but be careful One Step is very slippery. I always rinse everything even though it is not required. The reason I do is One Step neutralizes Iodophor almost instantly if you place utensils directly into Iodophor if you do not rinse.

    Sanitizing with Iodophor… 1 tablespoon per 5-6 gallons COLD water. If the water is orange it is working. Immerse utensils and completely fill carboys and let stand for 10 minutes to complete the sanitizing processs. When done brewing I always immerse my cleaned utensils in Iodophor and dry them before storing.

    The nice thing is both One Step and Iodophor can be reused. I use left over, (clear) One Step to clean my fishing gear, buckets and all sorts of gear after it is used for brewing.


  21. Donald says:

    So, do you actually use equipment and bottles that are still wet with the foam? I mean do bottle. right into bottles still coated or wet with the residual star-San foam, or do you at least air dry first?
    Of course I’m talking about standard solution Star-San.


  22. Pat says:

    I just used bleach to clean my corboy and used hand sanitizer to clean my airlock. It only took a tiny drop to go a long way. Supposed to kill 99.9% of bacteria. Hope it works.

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