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Sanitization is one of the foundations of good brewing almost all beer, there are exceptions, since the time of Louis Pasteur and Dr Emil Hansen has been brewed with a pure culture that is a single strain or type of yeast with no significant contaminants.  Keeping all equipment and ingredients clean and sanitary is the way to keep wild yeasts and contaminants at bay.

Note. Sanitary is not the same as sterile.

I don’t think anybody really likes cleaning but anything that’s going to come into contact with our beer must be thoroughly cleaned and then sanitized.

If it’s not clean it can’t be sanitized!

Contaminants can hide under the dirt or in cracks, scratches and so on.

Best practice is :-

* Use it.
* Rinse it.
* Strip it, including valves, taps and hoses.
* Clean it.
* Dry it, all of it including the inside of tubes.
* Store it.
* Sanitize it.
* Use it.

If you follow that outline and take special care to store your equipment dry inside and out you will save yourself a lot of grievous contaminations.

If there are things you can’t strip or that may have been damp when stored then an extra cleaning step will be required before sanitization.

Beersmith have a good article about how to actually do the cleaning.

I like the no-rinse sanitizer StarSan, I keep some in a spray bottle to sanitize bits n bobs I use during brewing. It’s very useful for something that may have been touched or dropped.
It seems expensive to buy but a little of the concentrate goes a long way so it’s not costly in use.  There is a StarSan mantra “Don’t Fear The Foam” it foams in use but all you need to do is drain it out.  

StarSan is no-rinse NOT no-drain. 

The only disadvantage I’ve found is that StarSan throws a precipitate in hard water so I make it up in Tesco Ashbeck bottled water.

Whatever type of sanitising agent you use read the instructions and Allow the Recommended Contact Time.