As a supplier of cleaning and sanitation products to the brewing industry I have found there are a lot of different ways to keep equipment clean. I could review the many different types of cleaners and sanitizers that are available and discuss the differences and what is best for each brewing situation but I am limited on space so I am going to review with you five basic steps of cleaning that will be beneficial to producing an excellent beer. I would recommend if you have a question regarding cleaners and sanitizers to reach out to me, or contact your local chemical supplier, or home brew shop. Then you can review and select the correct cleaners that best suit your brewing needs based on your equipment, soil and brewery environment.
The three main purposes of any cleaning cycle are to prevent the transfer of flavors and odors from one batch to another, to eliminate soil contamination (which may harbor microorganisms) and to clean efficiently. We know our goal, so let’s review some of the general definitions that are used when discussing sanitation.
Clean to remove soil from a surface.
Soil - Any unwanted, undesirable material on a given surface.
Sanitize - The treatment of a cleaned surface to reduce total bacteria to a safe level.
5 Basic Steps of Cleaning
The 5 basic steps in the process of cleaning that are interdependent with each other are Pre-rinse, Time, Mechanical Action, Chemical Concentration, and Temperature. If one of these areas are neglected it can affect the quality of the cleaning.
Pre-rinse - Rinse - Rinse – Rinse. The Pre-Rinse is an area that sometimes gets neglected. Prior to cleaning any equipment it is vital to rinse. The Pre-rinse removes 90% - 98% of the gross soils. The rinse step should be ambient temperature to 110 degrees F. but not HOT water.
Time – is the time of contact. Contact time is generally defined by the reaction of the cleaning solution with the soil at a certain concentration, temperature and mechanical condition. This is a variable step that is dependent on type of equipment, soil load, and soil type.
Mechanical Action – CIP, COP, Foam Cleaning, or Manual (Brush) Cleaning. These are all processes to use to clean equipment. Whatever the cleaning process used, mechanical energy is always required to remove soil from surfaces. Each one of these processes have minimum requirements to ensure the cleanliness of the equipment.
Concentration – Chemical Solution Strength. One area where more is not always better. It is important that the process is reviewed to ensure you are not over-using or under-using cleaners. Use test kits or test strips to ensure you are using the cleaners and sanitizers at the recommended usage levels for the process.
Temperature – Temperature can affect cleaning results both negatively and positively. Be aware that if you go too high with your temperature you can have detrimental effects on your equipment and cleaning. It is important to follow the recommended temperature for the cleaning product you are using from the label, or the recommendation from the supplier. If a desired temperature cannot be used, you will need to extend the wash time or adjust the other steps to ensure a quality cleaning program.
Not Fun, But Necessary
Cleaning and sanitizing equipment is the least enjoyable part of the brewing experience. But if you follow the 5 Basic Steps of Cleaning it will help ensure that you produce a quality final product. The good news is this: when your work is complete you have easy access to a pint.
Wesmar has an entire product line devoted to the brewing industry. Wesmar can provide a total cleaning and sanitation solution to fit every need, no matter what size of brewery.