What are the differences between sanitizers?

Now that your equipment is clean, you also want to make sure it is sanitized before use. Sanitizers are a stronger product that really goes after the bacteria that might be on your equipment. Practicing good sanitation is the next step to ensure infection-free wine and beer. Sanitizing means to reduce the amounts of bacteria and microorganisms to levels such that yeast can dominate the fermentation.

IO Star:

IO Star is a low foaming iodophor for sanitizing your equipment. You want to make sure contact time is at least 1 minute. Be aware that IO Star is an iodine based product and easily stains anything plastic. This product is better used for copper or steel as it will not corrode the metal. Make sure to rinse the equipment after use of IO Star.

Star San:

This is an acid based sanitizer that does not require rinsing after use. You do want to make sure your equipment has at least 2 minutes of contact time with this product. We warn you now that Star San does foam when used. This is good because the foam does get into the cracks a little better than other products, but it does take awhile for the foam to go away. You can minimize the foaming by adding Star San after you have added the water to your fermenter. Then you can siphon the product from one container to another after that. Star San is an acid so contact with soft metals, plastic and rubber should be kept to a minimum. If you keep your mix in a sealed container, Star San will stay effective for 3 - 4 weeks.


This is pretty much the same as Star San, but without the foam.You do want the contact time to be about 3 minutes for best results.


PBW stands for Powdered Brewery Wash. This product is used by many commercial breweries throughout the world. This is another product that works quickly and does not require a lot of contact time to be effective. Soaking your equipment overnight will easily remove any stubborn, caked on organic deposits, without scrubbing. PBW is an environmentally friendly product that will not hurt septic systems.

There are a lot of options for cleaners and sanitizers out there, and some are very specific to certain types of equipment, but don’t panic. Just make sure to clean everything well before and after use, and you will be just fine.