Guide to Cleaning and Sanitizing Winemaking Equipment

We can probably all agree that readying equipment for winemaking is not exactly a carboy of fun; nevertheless, it is an absolutely crucial aspect of winemaking. Reports of wine gone bad and, sadly, accidents resulting from improper washing and sanitizing of equipment and handling of chemicals are all too common — pitted stainless steel, expensive oak barrels relegated to planter duty, shattered carboys, and trips to the hospital. So, what is the difference between washing and sanitizing? Which agents should be used to wash or sanitize a particular material? Does technique matter? How safe are these chemicals? Precise answers to these questions are complicated. Here, we provide basic information by reviewing the types of chemicals found in washing and sanitizing products, their effectiveness, resistance of equipment to these products, and suggestions for their safe and effective usage. Understanding Washing and Sanitizing Washing is the process of removing organic and inorganic contaminants to a level of insignificance. Washing agents are designed to facilitate this process by breaking down, solubilizing and dispersing contaminants into water, so the contaminants can be washed away.