If you brew your own beer at home or if you are thinking about getting into it, Sanitization of your beer bottles is the single most important factor you need to consider and learn how to do well. Most home brewers have suffered the loss of many a batch of beer due to unclean bottles.

This article will show you how to either wash your bottles using a modern dishwasher with a steam/sanitization cycle or using a bathtub in your home.

Things You Will Need

Brand new beer bottles - amber swing top bottles
Dishwasher with Sanitize/Steam Cycle or large bath tub or trough
2 Gallons of Bleach (if washing in the tub)
Dishwasher detergent and lemon juice (if washing in a dishwasher)
Plastic bucket or container with holes and a lid.

Step 1

It is possible to get home brew beer bottles from your local liquor store, but I recommend that you start with brand new bottles to eliminate the variable of added contaminents to the bottles.

Step 2

We are now going to take your new bottles and clean them in a large bathtub or your dishwasher. Prior to putting the bottles into the bathtub or dishwasher, make sure they are clean and rinsed using orinary household chemicals. For the bathtub, use tub cleaner, and for the dishwasher, just run it through a cycle with dishwashing detergent. You can decide on which one of the two methods you want to use based on availability of either a tub or dishwasher with a steam/sanitize cycle.

Step 3

Read here if you are going to wash your bottles in a dishwasher with a steam/sanitize cycle:
Simply run the dishwasher empty on the steam/sanitize cycle with some dishwasher detergent and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Read here if you are going to wash your bottles in the tub:
First clean the tub with tub cleaner and bleach. Scrub the tub to get rid of contiminates and soap scum and then rinse the tub with clean water. Now, fill the tub with cold water and an entire bottle of bleach. Let this bleach sit in the tub for at least 24 hours, then rinse it out again. Make sure the area is well ventilated or that you keep your bathroom fan running to get rid of the bleach fumes.

Step 4

Read here if you are going to wash your bottles in a dishwasher with a steam/sanitize cycle:
Load the bottom tray of your dishwasher with your bottles. Place them in with the mouth over the rack and the bottom facing up. This wasy the water will spray up into the bottles. Try to fit as many as you can into the dishwasher. Place the swing tops in the upper tray. DO NOT PUT ANY DISHWASHING SOAP IN THE DISHWASHER. Run the dishwasher on the steam/sanitize cycle with water wash only. No Soap!

Read here if you are going to wash your bottles in the tub:
Fill the tub half way with clean cold water again and pour in 3 cups of bleach. Lay your bottles into the tub making sure to fill each of them with the bleach water. Keep the bottles in the tub for at least 20-30 minutes. Also place the swing tops in a clean plastic bucket with holes and submerge them in the tub.

Sanitizing your bottles is the single most important key to your suceess as a home brewer. Sure, there are many elements to actually creating your own beer at home, but if you do not sanitize your bottles correctly, you will waste your time, money, and ingredients. If you follow these steps above, you should be able to effectively sanitize your bottles and rule out this variable for any failure in your home brewing endeavor. If you follow these steps and find that you are still getting bulging bottle caps, try starting with brand new cleaner bottles and then follow the steps again. Happy brewing!

Tips & Warnings

You can get bottles from a liquor store if you let them know that you are ahome brewer. Do not get the twist-off bottles, but instead get the amber bottles with the swing top.

Be sure to date each bottle by writing the date with a marker on the cap.