Because we are dealing with microorganisms cleaning and sanitizing is extremely important.
– hot water
– soap or PBW
– white vinegar (or Star San if you have it)
– spray bottle
Cleaning vs Sanitizing
While you might think these are the same thing they are not. Cleaning removes debris, oil, dirt and other impurities. Sanitizing removes and/or neutralizes microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, viruses, etc) that may remain after cleaning is complete. It is important to do both.
Some websites recommend only using vinegar to clean and sanitize your fermenting equipment. I’ve successfully used PBW (link above) that was originally used for beer manufacturers to clean their fermenting equipment. It is safe for the environment and works extremely well to clean all kinds of organic messes. (I even used it to help clean a drain the other day. It’s uses are endless). I’ve also used plain old dish soap to clean. Just make sure to rinse very well in hot water.
I usually keep a solution (please read all directions and dilute exactly as the directions say or you won’t get proper sanitization) in a spray bottle for my beer brewing. It works well for Kombucha as well. Vinegar works well for this as well. I’ve used undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle and also diluted vinegar in a sink of water. The most important thing with sanitizing using these methods is that you coat the entire surface and that you let it stand at least one minute.