Everything that comes into contact with your beer after it’s boiled needs to be disinfected and sanitized. There are a number of cheap solutions available and they will all minimize the risk of infection in your beer
Bleach: Again bleach is one of the cheapest and most commonly available options for sanitizing your brewing gear. You’ll want ordinary unscented household bleach in a quantity of 1 tablespoon per gallon and leave your equipment to sanitise in this for around 10 minutes. It is then a good idea to rinse with boiled water although most people do use tap water without any issue.
Star-San: This is one of the most cost effective sanitisers and one of the easiest to use too. Star-san is a no rinse sanitizer and is diluted in water according to the instructions. This solution can then be sprayed onto your equipment which will be sanitised within 30 seconds. Star-san foams very easily which helps it penetrate into all surfaces, also the foam needn’t be rinsed as it also acts as a yeast nutrient. Only small quantities of Star-san is required per use therefore, one bottle can last quite a while.
A number of other sanitisers are available from your home brew shop and should be used according to instructions. Most of the time I use either bleach or star-san because they are so cost effective and easy to use.
Tips on Cleaning and Sanitizing Your Brew Gear
First off, whatever chemicals you are using make sure you protect yourself, most chemicals require the area to be well ventilated and wear gloves to protect your hands.
Clean Items As Soon As Possible: Your fermenter will be a lot easier to clean just after you racked beer out of it rather than a few days later when everything has dried out and stuck like glue. Rinse everything straight away and make cleaning later on so much easier.
Use the Right Tools: If you use a carboy/demijohn invest in a bottle brush, you will make life so much easier in the long run if you make cleaning less hassle. Another thing to point out is that using an abrasive pad on plastic equipment is not a good idea, all that you will do is scratch the surface and create more crevices for bacteria to inhabit.
Be Consistent: I know it’s not the best part of brewing but being sloppy with cleaning and sanitation is a good way to ruin a batch of home brew. Take your time, be thorough and you will never have to risk getting an infected brew.