Cleaning and Sanitizing the Gear Rundown
With equipment and cleaning chemicals in hand, it's time to apply them. Each piece of equipment requires a bit of special care. First, a few general rules:
When dealing with any strong chemicals, take appropriate precautions. Gloves and glasses are a smart idea!
Clean everything while it's still fresh. Dried yeast and syrupy malty goo is exponentially harder. Rinse everything immediately after use. They'll be available faster on short notice.
The main downside of the ubiquitous plastic bucket is sensitivity to scratches. Breathe too hard and you create a bacteria-harboring furrow. Handle your cleaning tasks with a soft sponge or a plastic scrubbing pad.
Glass carboys are virtually bulletproof as long as you don't press too hard with any metal-tipped brushes. Carboys handle any chemical that you throw at them. For routine cleaning, spray them out to remove major debris. Mix up your favorite hot cleaner and soak overnight. A quick swipe of a carboy brush takes care of anything else.
Save sanitizer solution by filling the carboy halfway. Plug it with a solid stopper and lay it on the side. Roll it to the other side after five minutes for complete sanitation.
If you practice good rinsing, your used bottles need a quick spritz. For a cache of dirty bottles fill a big tub with cleaner and soak the bottles. Bleach or ammonia soaking (not together!) takes off stubborn bottle labels.
Rinsed and dried bottles can be sanitized via the oven (see above) or by soaking them in sanitizer. Air dry them on your bottle tree or dishwasher rack (a bottle on each post). When dry, cover with sanitized foil.
Kettles are the low-maintenance pieces of the brewhouse. Most sessions they just need a scrubbing. Brush out spigots to avoid mold. When the kettle interiors look brown and grimy, tackle the beerstone. Follow the directions above to restore your kettle's shine.
Stainless steel's corrosion resistance stands up to the strongest chemicals with nary a blemish. Aluminum kettles are cheap and reliable, but strong acids and caustics damage them easily.
Hoses and Racking Canes
All the warnings about cleaning while wet apply in triplicate to your hoses and racking gear. A hose with dried goo is a dead hose. For quick rinsing, get a barb adapter for your sink. Stick a hose on and let the water pressure rip. Pulse the water on and off to dislodge anything stubborn. Soak the canes and hoses in a wallpaper tray and rinse. Twirl and hang to dry hoses.