Should you sanitize your hands?

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Active Member
Jun 2, 2022
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Orange County, CA
I'm very new to homebrewing, and a question I've had is should I sanitize my hands. It seems to me that we spend all this time sanitizing equipment and it feels wrong to then touch that sanitized equipment with unsanitized hands. So I've been spraying my hands with star san whenever handling anything that's been sanitized, but wondering if I should be using hand sanitizer instead, or gloves or something.
I wear nitrile gloves and spray them with star san anytime I work with a material that is added after boil (hops, enzymes, etc).

After a while you find that starsan on your hands is really rough on the skin.
I do the glove thing too. But I work in the medical device industry and so I have tons of them available.

I'm interested in what others do for this. Like if you're assembling a spigot or something that has been soaking.
As long as you don't touch the sanitized surfaces that need to remain sanitized, it shouldn't matter.

Now, I'm not saying you should have dirty hands from yard work or cleaning out the gutters, etc. or dripping dirt everywhere.
Clean hands and wrists, washed with soap and rinsed with or dunked into clean water ought to be sufficient. Also consider the clothes you're wearing, such as loose sleeves, anything that could touch those sanitized surfaces or spread dirt over them.

I use a half-size bucket with 3 gallons of Starsan. I dunk my hands and wrists in it regularly. I also use smallish (~8"x 8") cotton washcloths in my Starsan bucket for mopping surfaces, such as insides of fermentation buckets, lids etc. I like the thick foam it produces that clings to the surface. I like to submerge smaller items, jugs, jars, hoses, tubing, etc. too for at least 3 minutes. Larger items get mopped and/or sprayed.

When tinkering with yeast, I shut the AC/heat pump off...
I do the glove thing too. But I work in the medical device industry and so I have tons of them available.

I'm interested in what others do for this. Like if you're assembling a spigot or something that has been soaking.
I hate wearing gloves, only use them when absolutely necessary, like oil changes. Of course I do wear work gloves for yard work, moving large items, etc.
i use hand sanitizer whenever i'm going to touch post boil stuff. maybe it's unnecessary, maybe not.

either way, it doesn't hurt anything to do so.
Personally, sanitizing my hands seems like major overkill. I truly don’t believe it’s necessary and have never done it, no infections in hundreds of batches. As an aside, when I get starsan on my hands it drys them out like crazy for a few days.
I can't think of a time when my hands would be in contact with the wort after boil, (or before boil for that matter). See no reason to sanitize hands, I do usually wash them though, when I have a snack.
I'm generally not too concerned about it. I wash them with soap and water, and occasionally dip them in star san if I think about it, which is not frequently. I haven't had any issues yet...
One thing for Star-San (and well, iodophor too I guess) is you can put it in a spray bottle. You can also pour it from a bucket into a fermenter for a while too. I mean - it's obvious, but also maybe easy to forget.

Let's say you were sanitzing your fermentation equipment - including the little parts. You could assemble it all by hand, dump the sanitizer in the fermenter if you were concerned about parts you touched, and then spray it outside like say around a spigot or anything else you were concerned about. Or spray it inside. Many options.

Point being - sanitizer need not necessarily be confined to a bucket.
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I wash my hands before touching anything post boil. Also dip hands in Star San. I wash my hands probably 10x during brew days, and my hands show it the next day. Especially during the Winter.
Large dish towel, sprayed with star san, laying on a bit of countertop in case I have to put anything down for a moment,.. a partially filled 5-gallon bucket of star san with any lids, airlocks, tubes, stirring implements or whatever sitting in it, I wear a pair of cheap cotton work gloves with a pair of the big rubbermaid gloves over them; allows me to reach right into the boiling wort if I need to, for a few moments anyway, and I can constantly dip them in the big bucket of star san or set them on the 'sanitized' dish towel when I take them off.
When I'm touching the hydrometer or the siphon I'll dip my fingers in the Starsan, stuff like that. I'll rinse or wash my hands when done.
Probably overkill.
Hands is what we use to touch the world. They're ecosystems for microbial communities. I'd at least wash hands (and arms) on the cold side or wear fresh gloves. Cleanliness is next to godliness, they say. Why monks brew nice beer, I guess.
Y'all are crazy. Who's getting their grubby hand in their beer? Wort goes into the fermenter hands free, I can pitch yeast without touching the yeast or the wort and seal the lid put on airlock all without touching anything that will touch the beer. It's the same for packaging... What's the issue here?
The last thing that should come in contact with the items that touch your beer/wort should be sanitized.

From boiling to fermenter, the only thing I sanitize is the tip of the hose going into the fermenter (and the fermenters themselvers obviously).

When I transfer from primary to secondary or to keg, I sanitize the racking cane and only handle it by the top loop. I also sanitize the hose, but I have to handle it when I put it into the secondary/keg. So I use a paper towel soaked in sanitizing solution, which I run on the length of the hose as it goes into the receiving vessel.

So I use a paper towel soaked in sanitizing solution, which I run on the length of the hose as it goes into the receiving vessel.
Thanks for mentioning that! This is as good a place as any to suggest what I've been using: Cheap basket coffee-filters. They leave far less particles than paper towels, and hold up much better as well as being cheaper. I just pull them out one at a time as needed like with a box of Kleenex, fold and dip into or spray star san on 'em. (or with rubbing alcohol around the neck and stopper of glass carboys to stop the stopper from sliding back up every time I try and push it in...damn star san is slippery!)
I make a tub of sanitized water to drop parts and tubing in. Often have my hands dipping n it too. Works for me. I dont use gloves. Seems just like hands once you start touching things.
I also hate wearing gloves, I don't even wear them doing oil changes but I will wear them if I have any cuts on my hand.
I also wear silicone gloves when working near hot wort.
Hands are notoriously rich in microbes, and hard to really sanitize. But I do dip my fingers in the StarSan when handling cold side items that I'm sanitizing and manipulating, such as the (post-chiller) tubing and thru-mometer. Also, when assembling/sanitizing my Flex+ fermenter, and dealing with components (hop cylinder or sack, floating dip tube) that go in my kegs.

Arguably, washing with soap may be more valuable than splashing with StarSan. Happily, my finger skin doesn't much object to either.

Gloves are the gold standard for sanitized handling of things.