There are few things that can ruin a batch of beer faster than poor cleaning and sanitation habits. Cleaning home brew equipment is important to remove debris and other materials that can feed mold and bacteria. Equipment should not be allowed to sit after use. It needs to be cleaned right away. Residual materials left to degrade equipment may render it unusable. Pre-boil equipment should be cleaned thoroughly. Surfaces and valves should be closely inspected and the equipment should be air dried to prevent mold. While the boiling process kills off bacteria or yeast that may contaminate the wort, once the beer begins to cool, it is in danger of being tainted. Therefore, anything coming in contact with the beer after boiling must be sanitized. This includes valves, fermenters, hoses, bottles and kegs.
Sanitation can only occur after the surface has been cleaned of other materials. Otherwise, bacteria can hide beneath the residue and contaminate the beer. Regular dish soap should not be used to clean brewing equipment. It leaves a rinse resistant residue. Bleach is inexpensive and will clean thoroughly. Metals should not be left in bleach since it can result in corrosion. Other suitable cleaners include TSP (trisodium phosphate), sodium percarbonate cleaners and PBW (Powder Brewery Wash).