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.
Very common household chemical and super cheap. Only a small amount will make a strong sanitizing solution.
- Easy to find
- 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.
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.
Very effective iodine based sanitizer that can be found at any homebrew store or bought online.
- No rinse
- Short contact time
- 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?