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Old 06-15-2010, 09:31 AM   #1
brewhan
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Jan 2010
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This may be a really silly question, but...

I've just got my hands on some Star San for the first time. In all the posts I've read on here which talk about Star San, no one seems to be talking about using a cleaning solution first.

So long as there's no visible dirt on my gear / bottles, is it ok to just use Star San?

I've also got some cleaning-solution-powder, from my local brewstore, made of "chlorine and cleaning soda". Should I be using this before the Star San?

Any help greatly appreciated!

 
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Old 06-15-2010, 11:28 AM   #2
Beerrific
 
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You are right, you want it free of visible dirt, organic matter, etc. For some things that can be as simple as a hot water rinse after using but for stuff that has a lot of gunk on it, you will need to use a cleaner.

 
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Old 06-15-2010, 12:17 PM   #3
wyzazz
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First things first, you always CLEAN before you SANITIZE. A lot of us use OxiClean Free for cleaning, it's cheap and works great with no brushing! I do an Oxi Soak on all my stuff overnight just to make sure it's clean, followed by a good rinse, then I Star-San everything and drain. Bottle/Rack while the surfaces are still wet with Star-San.

Next, Sterilization is different than Sanitizing. We Sanitize in brewing, Sterilization requires specialized equipment with temps around 270F if I recall correctly for a certain period of time. Not trying to beat you up about it, just trying to pass on the proper info.
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Old 06-15-2010, 02:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
"chlorine and cleaning soda"
I wouldn't use a chlorine-based cleaner. It can be a pain to rinse all of the chlorine off, as it takes very little to mess up the flavor of your beer. I use chlorine occasionally to bleach plastic items, but rinse, rinse, rinse.
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Old 06-15-2010, 02:55 PM   #5
Catt22
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Effective cleaning agents are also sanitizers although they may not be rated as such. The problem is that most require rinsing and the rinse water can sometimes contaminate the equipment. This is the reason that no-rinse sanitizers are used after cleaning. It's also good practice to use a sanitizer immediately before using the equipment. This may or may not be necessary, but it's certainly can do no harm. Star San is very economical to use and I use it liberally.

 
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Old 06-15-2010, 06:30 PM   #6
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Basically we're always making the assumption that the gear is already clean. You cannot sanitize something that isn't clean to start with (the organic residues will harbor all sorts of nasties, as well as be a possible food source for the nasties to grow).
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Old 06-15-2010, 10:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyzazz View Post
First things first, you always CLEAN before you SANITIZE. A lot of us use OxiClean Free for cleaning, it's cheap and works great with no brushing! I do an Oxi Soak on all my stuff overnight just to make sure it's clean, followed by a good rinse, then I Star-San everything and drain. Bottle/Rack while the surfaces are still wet with Star-San.
+1
I often leave a fermenter sitting on the sidewalk overnight soaking with some oxiclean, then rinse it well, and put it away. give it a quick rinse incase it picked up some dust, sanitize, and use.

 
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Old 06-15-2010, 11:21 PM   #8
billc68
 
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I rarely clean, I give everything a very thorough rinse after use and make sure there is no visible dirt. Then I usually rinse with hot water again before sanitizing.

I have been using Idophor to sanitize, I have yet to have sanitation issues.

 
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Old 06-16-2010, 11:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malkore View Post
Basically we're always making the assumption that the gear is already clean. You cannot sanitize something that isn't clean to start with (the organic residues will harbor all sorts of nasties, as well as be a possible food source for the nasties to grow).
If it's "clean to the eye" meaning free for visible dirt (i.e. rinsed off but no oxyclean etc.) why can you not sanitize? The "nasties" will all be killed by the sanitizer.

I personally take my equipment from the garage or basement which may have built up a nice layer of dust and give it a good rinse with warm water. Sanitize if need be (being used during\post boil) and have never had any issues. *knocks on wood*

So I say no, it is not necessary. Good practice to clean well before sanitizing? Hellz yeah! I just hate cleaning so try and skip corners
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Old 06-16-2010, 01:56 PM   #10
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I agree with 'clean first'. You could just clean and not sanitize and probably get away with that for a while too. Many times a beer will be contaminated just to the point that it only tastes a little 'off' but is fine otherwise. So imo, take the "I do this and never had a problem" accounts with a grain of salt (you'll see these over and over).

If you have hard water you may prefer PBW (5-star, same company as Star-San) over Oxiclean Free. The PBW rinses significantly better/easier than Oxiclean with hard water. PBW costs way more. But you can reuse it. I always save old PBW solution because I always have a gunked up fermenter or flask coming up in the pipeline. So I use fresh, hot PBW for kegs and carboy 'final cleaning' and use old stuff for soaking carboys/blow-off tubes to get the gunk off. PBW gets bottle labels off pretty well too.

FWIW, sometimes something will appear to be free of dirt/gunk but will have a thin film of oil/grease on it (not likely with brewing stuff but you never know with new/used equipment, especially kegs). A good way to see this is on glass/stainless to run water over the surface and look for a 'break-free' surface. The water should just run off like a sheet. If it 'beads', you have non-volatile residue (i.e. oil/grease film). Water will usually bead on plastic anyway so not a good test for plastic.
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