Originally Posted by bigfloppybunny
Why cant I just sanitize the hydrometer itself and stick it right in the fermentation bucket?
You can. I used to. Thing is, I aerate my wort by dumping it from the kettle into the bucket through a screen, so there's a 3-inch layer of foam on top of the wort surface!
Now I just reserve the last quart or two of wort in the kettle (along with the vast majority of hops and trub) and skim off that with a baster to get my OG sample. It takes a few minutes for the trub to drop out, and in that time I can pitch and seal the fermenter without worrying about what nasties are floating in the air.
EDIT: Just noticed you're not talking about just the OG sample. For later samples I use a sanitized drinking straw and turkey baster through the airlock hole.