Full disclosure: I still identify as a newbie, but wanted to share some lessons on cleaning and sanitation. tl;dr: Newcomers sometimes hit a wall after a few brews, sanitation being the cause. Long post. I write this for the almost-newcomer: You’ve brewed a couple of times, with pretty good results. But what’s going to happen, soon, is a bad batch. You see, sanitation is easy with new equipment: It starts out clean. But over the course of 3 or 5 brews, it gets dirty, in places you can’t see. Start with good sanitation habits from the beginning and you’ll never have the almost-newcomer’s sanitation problem. To start with: Clean is an absence of dirt/crud/etc. Sanitized is a (relative) absence of living things. Sterile is a complete absence of living things, and not necessary in brewing. And after cleaning anything, rinse it well: You do not want any cleaning solution remaining. I tend to over-rinse, just to be sure. Cleaning accessible metal – like the inside of my BrewZilla 35, a corny keg or a fermenter – is a mostly mechanical process, with some chemical assistance. For example, a non-scratching scrubbie pad, some dish detergent and careful physical effort to scrub at the surfaces should get it clean. Your concern is generally not the large, flat surfaces, as these are very accessible, but the little corners, cracks, and fittings where the scrubbie doesn’t get. A brush may help, and some kettles don’t have a bottom seam (being slightly rounded inside), but think microscopically about that seam: That hundredth-of-a-millimeter seam can’t be cleaned mechanically, but leaving anything in there means it cannot be sanitized. Hold that thought. Now, a boil kettle doesn’t really need to be sanitized, since the act of boiling sterilizes it. But you probably want it clean, if for nothing else, to eliminate any unwanted flavors. Fermenters, on the other hand, definitely want to be sanitized, and therefore must start out as clean. Scrub, scrub, scrub until it is really clean. Inaccessible metal – the inside of my counterflow chiller for example – also needs to be cleaned. And possibly sanitized, depending on what the object is. A counterflow chiller’s insides, where the wort touches, is sanitized by running very hot wort through it at the end of the boil. Some say a few seconds is all it takes, but I run it five or 10 minutes while things whirlpool. But cleaning is a different story: I don’t have a brush or anything even close to mechanically scrub the insides of a thirty-foot piece of 3/8-inch copper tube. Just as your local bar can’t scrub the insides of their tap piping system. For this, we resort to chemicals, such as the alkaline cleaner known as PBW. And, it is just as effective in those microscopic seams (wherever they are) mentioned above. Hot (120-150F) PBW is effective at cleaning. In 30 minutes or so – longer generally does no harm – you end up getting pretty clean. Cold PBW also works, but overnight or longer is recommended. For my counterflow chiller and BrewZilla, I put in maybe 3 gallons of water* and the recommended amount of PBW**, set it to heat to 140F or so and let the pump circulate the cleaning solution for a while. Rinsing is important, I rinse 3 or 4 times or more until I am completely satisfied all PBW is completely gone...then I rinse once more. May be a bit excessive, but that’s just me. At the same time, anything that needs cleaning but isn’t a good candidate for the dishwasher gets tossed in there to soak. * I’m also a cheapskate, and willing to scrub the top half of the BrewZilla manually. So I save some PBW (and therefore money) by not filling it up to 8 or 9 gallons. You might decide differently and fill it up to the tippy top, using an extra few cents’ worth of PBW. ** 2 oz/gal (15g/l) for fermenters, ¾ oz/gal (6g/l) for everything else. No harm going stronger (to a point), but significantly weaker means less effectiveness. Corny kegs are what I consider accessible metal, at least the tank part is. You really should take the valves off every time, clean them (and the dip tubes) in the sink with dish soap (I have a long, thin brush for the tubes), and use a long-handled scrub brush with dish soap for the insides. Use hot water, if possible. See below for sanitizing. Then there’s plastic. Accessible plastics, like the inside of a 5-gallon open bucket, can also be scrubbed, but here you wish to avoid scratching the surface (use a plastic brush) and avoid scented dish soap. That lemon-scented Ajax will leave lemon-scent in the plastic. Again, hot water is preferred. You can also fill it up with a PBW solution and let it soak. Indeed, for plastic containers with a small opening, where scrubbing is impossible or difficult, PBW is a great option. Remember that PBW, if not too terribly dirty, can be re-used for other cleaning tasks, like soaking the insides of a keg after the brew pot soak. But don’t try to keep the PBW solution for any length of time, it is meant to be disposable. Same with your tap lines, including party taps: Disassemble them, clean them best you can, then soak everything in PBW overnight. I run everything that fits – malt pipe screens, false bottom, some of the tri-clamp hardware (not the clamps themselves, though, not necessary, and not the gaskets) and stuff like spoons and bowls through the dishwasher, without any rinse-aid and about half the normal detergent, at the hottest temperatures I can get. Clean and sanitized. As for sanitizing, something like StarSan, mixed properly, does the trick, but it takes a minute or more of contact for that to happen. But only if it’s all clean. For my kegs, I put in about a quart of sanitizer solution, shake it up and pressurize it with CO2 (about 10 PSI) for storage. If when I go to use it there’s still pressure I know it’s not leaking. Release the pressure, pop the top, dump the sanitizer and let it drip upside-down a minute, purge it with CO2, seal it all back up and fill the keg from the fermenter. I also use a spray bottle filled with fresh StarSan to sanitize just about everything: gaskets, fittings, most anything that needs it. I spray it a few times, to get that minute of contact. Things like fermenters get slightly filled and shaken, then drained. You may be tempted to rinse, but really, there’s no need: StarSan is completely flavorless. Other products, like Iodophor, must either dry completely or get rinsed. Read the manufacturer’s instructions! I have buddies who take these tasks rather lightly, and to my knowledge they’ve never had an infection, so perhaps all this is excessive. I dunno, I’m perhaps over-thinking and over-doing all this. But I have it down to a routine, and it really doesn’t take that long to do. I wrote all this not just to remind myself of my thoughts, but to help anyone new to all this by explaining what one person happens to do for cleaning and sanitizing, and why. Of course, you should do whatever you think best. I’d love to hear your comments!