Brewing kombucha is a controlled growth of bacteria and yeast, meaning you need to keep your supplies clean to prevent bad germs from sneaking in! Here’s how to sterilize and clean your kombucha supplies.
The kombucha naturally defends itself somewhat, with its acidic, low pH killing off many potential pathogens (especially with continuous brewing). But with clean equipment, delicious kombucha success is inevitable! Here’s how I sterilize and clean my kombucha supplies.
How to clean kombucha supplies
I follow two general steps when cleaning my kombucha gear:
- Rinse with distilled white vinegar: Highly acidic and perfect for killing off the bad bacteria that may be hiding out on your supplies. Simply swish it around your bottles and jugs, or pour it over your supplies (such as funnels or spoons). (Note: Do not use raw or apple cider vinegar, which may contain nematodes called vinegar eels!)
- Rinse with hot hot water: What the vinegar doesn’t kill, the hot water will! Carefully pour hot water into bottles and jugs, or submerge smaller supplies in the water. Swish it around so that it touches every surface, then pour out. Let supplies cool before pouring in the kombucha. (Shocking glass with hot water can cause it to crack – to prevent this, add just a little water and swish it around to warm up the glass before adding more!)
With your newly sterilized supplies, it’s important to pay attention to what other materials might be touching your equipment and ensure that they’re also clean. For instance, rather than use hand towels use paper towels. Avoid using a dirty kitchen sponge, which is laden with bacteria, and opt for a brand new sponge or paper towels instead.
And don’t forget to wash your hands! Similar to above, rinse your hands with vinegar then with warm water before touching your supplies or SCOBY.
Finally, avoid using soap, especially antibacterial soap. Antibacterial soap is indiscriminate in the bacteria it kills, and will hurt not only the bad but also the good bacteria (and in turn, hurt your SCOBY).
Need a deep clean?
Dishwasher: Have a lot of bottles that need cleaning? Stand them upside down in your dishwasher on the bottom rack. Run the dishwasher without any other dishes and without soap on its hottest setting!
And that’s basically it! Keeping a clean fermentation station doesn’t require much work or upkeep, just a bit of thought into what is coming into contact with your supplies. Happy brewing!