Cleaning Brewing Equipment & Kegs (OxiClean "Baby" or "Free" oxygen based cleaner)

OxiClean Baby or Free oxygen based cleaner

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Similar to powdered brewery wash (PBW) but slightly less potent, OxiClean "Free" or "Baby" (same product, simply targeted at different markets) is an oxygen based cleaner that is 100% fragrance, chlorine, detergent and dye free. Safe for use on the 304/316/804 stainless steel and other materials used in our brewery and available in powder or spray form. We use it to clean everything in the brewery from kettles to kegs. A good rinse is required after. Both Oxiclean and PBW contain percarbonate so they also have some sanitizing properties through the release of hydrogen peroxide. 

Whenever a quick cleaning is required we prefer to use OxiClean liquid in spray bottle as it's more convenient than the powder. If a long soak is required (such as with kegs or when doing a deep clean of the hot side equipment) the powder works fine and costs less.

When the brew day is done a few squirts of OxiClean liquid together with a wipe down with a blue non-scratch scrub sponge and hot water rinse is used to clean the Mash/Lauter Tun and Boil Kettle. To clean the Boil Kettle heating element a narrow bottle brush is passed in and around the heating element rods. The Hot Liquor Tank does not need cleaning as it only ever has water in it. To clean the hoses, pumps, and chiller we run hot water infused with OxiClean through them followed by a hot water rinse. Nothing needs to be disassembled as this is the hot side of the brewing process where everything will be boiled anyway.

About once a year we like to do a thorough cleaning of this hot side brewing equipment by heating up and dissolving a scoop or two of OxiClean powder in the Boil Kettle and recirculating through all the hoses, pumps, and chiller for an hour or two at 170F to get off any build-up. No scrubbing required and nothing needs to be disassembled first. Everything is then rinsed with water. The long soak with OxiClean always returns everything to looking shiny and new (see pictures below).

Larger / commercial setups will typically include clean-in-place (CIP) permanently installed spray balls and clean with a 1.5-2% caustic solution (little to no scrubbing required). Adding an oxidizer may help here and reduce the amount of scrubbing.

Passivation isn't required after cleaning stainless brewing equipment, assuming you're not cleaning with a steel brush or scrubby (which you shouldn't do). Once the metal is clean, the oxygen in the atmosphere will reform the protective chromium oxides instantly. The steel will be nearly as passivated as if it was dipped in acid. Nitric acid passivation may create a more chromium-rich passive surface, but it is not necessary for brewing use.

To clean kegs we do something similar. Since this is on the cold side of the brewing process the cleaning is more critical, so all of the keg fittings are removed first and left to soak in a small bowl of hot tap water with a few squirts of OxiClean liquid. A scoop of OxiClean powder is added to the keg which is then filled with hot tap water. The keg is left to sit for at least 24 hours and then rinsed with water, re-assembled, and immediately filled with beer and chilled. No scrubbing required. If your have concerns about your water supply best to use a no-rinse sanitizer such as Star San before filling.  

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