How to clean a growler

How to clean a growler

The Importance of

Caring for Your Growler

You are responsible for caring for your growlers to make sure you have an enjoyable experience with each fill. Good news – it’s EASY! In fact, usually people’s biggest problem is over-complicating cleaning their growlers. Here are some easy steps for cleaning and caring for your growlers between fills:

Store it cold until you have time to clean it. The best thing to do is to clean a growler as soon as you finish drinking it, but we know that’s not always possible. So, to limit bacteria’s ability to take hold, keep the growler in a cooler or in the fridge until you have a few minutes to wash it out.

  • Triple rinse with hot water. Make sure your tap water is nice and hot, then fill, swirl and rinse your growler about 3 times. This should knock out anything that has started to develop in your growler.
  • Air dry upside down. Allow your growler to sit upside down and air dry completely. A damp growler can harbor bacteria, whereas a dry growler will not.
  • Leave the cap off. Don’t cap your growler once it has been cleaned. Capping the growler will result in stagnant air, which could promote bacteria growth. Allowing the air to circulate will reduce this risk.
  • When you bring in your growler to be filled, we will visually inspect it and take a sniff to make sure it is clean. If we can see mold or if we pass out from the smell, we will first poke fun at you for your growler transgressions. Then, if we aren’t busy, we may clean your growler for you while we make you memorize the 4 steps above. However, if we have too much going on to spend the time necessary to sufficiently clean your growler, or if you are a repeat funky growler offender, we may ask you to purchase a new clean growler.

    As long as you are bringing in a clean growler without any visible grossness or pungent aromas, then we’ll gladly sanitize it for you and provide a new cap when we fill it!

    Here, Katy will show you how to do it:

    Did you find a beer you really love but your local brewery doesn’t sell it bottled or canned? Growlers are a great way to take home beer from your favorite brewery after a day of tasting.

    You can typically bring your own growler to a brewery or purchase on site for a few dollars.

    There are many benefits to growlers – they are reusable, relatively inexpensive and convenient.

    How to clean a growler

    However, with those benefits comes the challenge of cleaning them. If you own one of the standard brown glass jugs you’ve probably noticed how small the opening of the growler is.

    This opening size is great for pouring that delicious beer – but not so much for cleaning.

    The good news is, cleaning your growler is not complicated. As long as you follow a few simple steps, it will be funk free and ready for many future uses.

    The quick answer for how to clean a beer growler: rinse well with warm water and allow to air dry.

    But for those folks who like step by step instructions, let’s dive into the specifics.

    Steps Clean a Beer Growler

    It is important to clean the growler as soon as possible after pouring that last pint.

    Just like with wiping things that spill on your countertop, the sooner you attend to it the less work you’ll have to do in the long run.

    1. Rinse the growler with warm water.
    2. Swirl the water around inside
    3. Dump the water
    4. Rinse, swirl and dump a few times to ensure all the inner surface has been cleaned
    5. Rinse the growler cap under warm water
    6. Place the growler upside down in a drying rack to allow any remaining water to drip out

    Once your growler is dry, store it with the cap off.

    Next time you are ready to head to the brewery, give the inside of the growler a little sniff test. Hopefully, there’s no funky smell. In that case, just give it another good rinse and you’re off to refill.

    How Clean a Funky Growler

    We’ve all been there. You had the best intentions of cleaning the growler promptly, but that was before the beer kicked in. Now you wake up the next morning and the sticky, smelly growler is still in the sink.

    All is not lost. You can still clean and reuse the growler, but it may take a little more effort.

    Basically, we’re going to follow the above steps but add in a good soak between the rinsing and drying.

    Now, here’s an important tip: do NOT soak your growler in a soapy water.

    Why? Because of the small opening of the neck, it is difficult to ensure all the soapy water is rinsed and allowed to drain from the bottle. You don’t want your next beer to taste like soap, do you?

    Instead of you basic dishwashing soap, use a solution of a dye free, perfume free oxygenated cleaner, such as Oxiclean Versatile Free.

    Oxiclean Versatile Free can be found at many grocery stores, but if you have trouble finding it you can always find it online (affiliate link).

    For most growlers, add about a teaspoon of the Oxiclean and then fill with warm water. Allow the cleaner to dissolve and stand in the growler for about an hour. Proceed with a rinsing well.

    After the growler has dried following the guidelines above, give it a good sniff. Hopefully there’s no odor and you can call it done.

    But if the growler still stinks, we need to step up our efforts.

    1. Fill your sink with enough warm water to cover the growler and then add in Oxiclean at about the same ratio – 1 teaspoon per gallon.
    2. Submerge your growler to get the cleaning solution inside and let it sit for an hour. (And throw in the cap, too)
    3. Remove the growler from the cleaning solution.
    4. Rinse and swirl with warm water
    5. place the growler back in the Oxiclean and water.
    6. Allow it to soak again for another hour or longer.
    7. Then rinse and air dry upside down in drying rack

    If it still smells after drying, repeat the soaking until there’s no longer any lingering stink.

    Your local brewery may refuse to fill a dirty growler, so unless you want to buy a new one on the spot it is best to take care of the one you have.

    A clean growler will also ensure your beer tastes great. So now that you have a clean growler it is time to go get it filled again!

    At the Factory

    Your Craft Master Growler has been pre-cleaned at the factory with a Tri-Sodium Phosphate (TSP). If you choose to pre-clean yourself with TSP (as is common in the foodservice industry for new stainless-steel products) follow manufacturer’s recommendations, use a soft terry cloth, rise thoroughly, then dry.

    Prior to first use

    We recommend prior to initial use to wash the interior of your growler with the provided packet of PBW (0.75 oz per gallon.

    (Powdery Brewers Wash (PBW) is a patented alkali cleaner originally developed for Coors and now widely used by breweries and the recommended cleaner by brewing related stainless-steel equipment suppliers. Safe handling instructions are below

    PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS

    WARNING: Causes skin irritation. Causes serious eye irritation.

    FIRST AID: Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. If you feel unwell, seek medical advice (show this label where possible). IF INHALED: Allow victim to breath fresh air. All the victim to rest. IN ON SKIN: Wash with plenty of soap and water. Wash contaminated clothing before reuse. If skin irritation occurs: Gently wash with plenty of soap and water. If eye irritation persists: Get medical advice/attention. IF IN EYES: rinse cautiously with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses, if present and easy to do so. Continue rinsing. If eye irritation persists: Get medical advice/attention. IF INGESTED: Rinse mouth. DO NOT induce vomiting. Obtain emergency medical attention.

    PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENTS: Wash hands thoroughly after handling. Wear protective gloves, eye protection. If on skin: Wash with plenty of water. If in eyes, rinse cautiously with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses, if present and easy to do. Continue rinsing. Specific treatment (see FIRST AID on this label). If skin irritation occurs: Get medical advice/attention. If eye irritation persists: Get medical advice/attention. Take off contaminated clothing and wash before reuse.

    Firefighting Instructions: Use water spray or fog for cooling exposed containers. Exercise caution when fighting any chemical fire. Prevent fire-fighting water from entering environment.

    Suitable Extinguishing Media: Foam, dry powder, carbon dioxide, water spray, sand.

    Precautions for Safe Handling :Wash hands and other exposed area with mild soap and water before eating, drinking or smoking and when leaving work. Provide good ventilation in process areas to prevent formation of vapor.

    NON-WARRANTY: Manufacturer or seller makes no warranty, express or implied, considering the of this product other than the purpose indicated on this label. Manufacturer or seller is not liable for any injury or damage caused by this product due to misuse, mishandling, or application not specifically described on this label.


    Emergency telephone: Infotrac 1-800-535-5053

    Cleaning The Growler

    • Rinse your growler by filling it to the top and then emptying halfof the water. Shake the remaining water around inside the growler and pour out the rest.
    • Add the packet of PBW to the empty growler, and re-fill with warm water, replace the cap and shake (cartridge holder can be washed separately. Caution:warm water and PBW will create pressure inside the growler! Prior to opening either open the tap (recommended) or pull the zipper tab on the safety valve to release the internal pressure!
    • Let the solution sit for 30 minutes.
    • Remove cap and empty your growler (if you hold the growler with the tap facing down, some water will also run from the tap.
    • Fill the growler with clean tap water and rinse thoroughly.
    • Allow the growler to dry with the cap removed prior to the first filling.

    Sanitizing Your Growler

    Sanitize with Star San or another acid-based sanitizer as per the markers recommendations as part of your regular cleaning regiment. This has the added benefit to establish a uniform passive oxide layer that will maximize corrosion resistance.

    Storing Your Growler

    Beer and beverage residue not thoroughly cleaned leaves organic and nonorganic residues and microorganisms. The better your growler is cleaned the less chance you will have microbial growth (such as mold).

    Your growler is air tight, so stored with the cap off or loose will help reduce the surface population of microorganisms. Rinse your growler thoroughly with water prior to each use. You can purchase individual pre-measured packets of PBW for an occasional cleaning or if the growler has been stored for a long period of time. It is recommended you sanitize with Star San, or similar prior to filling.

    Tap Cleaning

    A common problem with beer taps of every type is dried beer residue is sticky. If your tap is stuck, the golden rule is not to use excessive force to try to open the tap as this can damage your tap. Preventive maintenance is best, which is thoroughly rising the tap, including holding it under the sink and opening and closing the tap. If the tap is stuck rising under hot water should open the tap. If not, then you can remove the neck nut, take off the tap and soak it in a bowl of PBW. Then rise thoroughly.

    How to clean a growler

    Sight Level Cleaning

    If you unit has a built-in tap, included is a sight level. With thorough rising and sanitizing after use, you won’t need to take the sight glass apart. If you do, the level, and the tap, can be more thoroughly cleaned by occasionally completely removing the Neck Nut and following these steps.

    How to clean a growler

    How to clean a growler

    How to clean a growler

    Be mindful that if the unit is not sealed properly when replaced, there is a potential for gas leaking. This will be fairly obvious the next time the growler is pressurized (it might leak gas or beer). However, removal and replacing is fairly straightforward. Components should slip easily into their original position without force, and the neck nut tightened by hand until the last couple quarter turns with a crescent wrench to seal the gasket to the top of the pipe unit.


    Do not use chlorine bleach or chlorine-based products which can damage your growler’s surfaces. Do not use Scotch-Brite pads or stainless-steel scrubbing pads on the interior or exterior as these will damage the surface and potentially produce rust. Use soft terry cloth.

    Exterior Care Of Your Growler

    Exterior surfaces can be polished with household appliance stainless steel and brass polishing products as per the manufacture’s recommendations. Always use only soft cloth.

    In my time pouring beer I’ve seen (and smelled) some disgusting growlers. Airborne bacteria quickly turn beer into a vinegary mess. It’s hard to believe people would abuse a growler in such a way, but some finish their beer, cap it and let it sit until the next refill.

    Beer is food. No one puts fresh food in unwashed containers that have been sitting around for weeks. Why would you do it with beer? Love your growlers well, and they’ll supply you with delicious beer for years to come. Here are a few tips for cleaning growlers:

      1. After your growler is empty, rinse it thoroughly, and rinse the cap too.
      2. Clean your growler (see options below).
      3. Dump the growler, rinse it and let it air dry with the cap off (and never cap a growler that is not dry).
      4. When you’re ready for a refill, rinse your growler, cap it and go.

    Growler Cleaning Methods

    • Good – Run your water until it’s as hot as it gets, fill the growler with very hot water and leave the cap off and let it soak overnight. Don’t use dishwashing liquid, it can leave residue on the glass.
    • Better – Using unscented, dye-free OxyClean, fill the growler with 1 teaspoon of OxyClean and warm water and let it dissolve and sit about an hour.
    • Best – Get PBW at a local homebrew store, fill the growler with 1 teaspoon of PBW and warm water and let it dissolve and sit about an hour.

    Keep those growlers clean, people. They will provide tasty beer for years to come.

    How to clean a growler

    Growlers are a really great way to bring your favorite craft brew home with you. They’re convenient, they’re eco-friendly, and they’re fun to use! Most breweries will fill your growler for you for a set price as long as it is completely clean. Below are some suggestions on how to get your growler perfectly beer-ready.

    3 Ways To Clean Your Growler

    1. Rinse with hot water

    Growlers should always be cleaned immediately after emptying in order to prevent bacteria growth. If you’ve just emptied your growler, you can usually get away with just a hot water rinse. Get your tap really hot, fill the growler with water, swirl it around, drain, and repeat.

    2. Scrub with a brush

    If you want to do a more serious cleaning, the Brewers Association suggests a carboy cleaning brush . They come in an L-shape so you can effectively scrub the bottom and sides of your growler. Be sure there is no exposed metal on the brush, though, as this can scratch up the inside.

    3. Growler cleaning tablets or powder

    Dish soap is generally not recommended to use on growlers, as it can leave residue that affects the taste of your beer. If you’ve left beer sitting in your growler too long, or you just want a more thorough clean, an unscented cleaning tablet or powder is the way to go.

    The best powder option is PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) . Add about an ounce to your growler, fill with hot water, and let the cleaner do its thing for half an hour. It’ll effectively and safely remove any stuck residue from your growler!

    Cleaning tablets do much the same thing. Although if you had to choose one of these cleaners, we would recommend PBW as it is specially formulated for brewery items.

    If you’re looking for a full sanitization option, Star Stan is what most brewers turn to. It completely eliminates bacteria from your containers.

    How to clean a growler

    How Do You Clean A Really Dirty Growler?

    If you’ve left beer sitting in your growler for too long, you might notice some unwanted lifeforms growing in there. Mold and bacteria can be a big problem, but an accidental science project doesn’t mean you need to throw your growler out.

    Swishing crushed ice and salt around your growler can help scour the sides and break up mold and gunk. But you can also go straight to PBW to remove the residue. You’ll definitely want to finish with a sanitizer like Star Stan to make sure your growler is perfectly clean and safe to use.

    See also: Best Portable Growlers for Fresh Cold Beer On-The-Go

    Keep in mind that if you can’t clean your growler right away, it’s best to stick it in the fridge until you can. The cool temperatures will help prevent any yucky bacteria growth until you can properly clean it.

    If you’re planning on bringing your growler to your local brewery for a refill, be sure to check with them to see if they have any special instructions.

    Cleaning a growler is an easy process – you’ve just got to make sure you keep up with it! For more information on growlers, be sure to check out our guide on Everything You Need To Know About Growlers .

    How to clean a growler

    • Post author:Sean Woitas
    • Post published: October 8, 2018
    • Post category:Blog
    • Post comments:0 Comments

    Stainless steel growlers have some amazing benefits, and you’re probably aware of them if you already own one. Beer growlers keep your brews fresh for a long time, and they allow you to bring your craft beer to new places easily. If you have one of these awesome items, then you should know how to take care of it and how to properly clean your stainless steel growler. A clean growler ensures that your beer tastes the same way as the brewer intended and it’s the difference between a great drink and a nasty brew.

    How to Clean Your Stainless Steel Growler:

    Step 1: Store it cold

    One of the best things you can do for your stainless steel growler is to keep it cold until you have time to clean it. You won’t always have time to clean it right after you finish drinking out of it. Keeping it cold limits bacteria growth, so stick it in the fridge until you have time to wash it.

    Step 2: Rinse it well

    The next step is to rinse out your growler really well with hot water. Fill the growler, then swirl the water around and rinse it about three times. This should knock out anything that has started to develop in your growler.

    Step 3: Use cleansers

    If you’ve let your growler sit for a while before you rinsed it, then you’ll want to use a cleanser to clean it out. Don’t use anything that is fay or oil-based because those products make it harder to rinse out the growler completely, possibly leaving residue behind on the walls. This might even ruin your next fill. Use a cleaning powder, such as the DrinkTanks Tank Powder – which is an all-natural powder that was specially formulated to remove all leftover residue and odor from previous fills and renew stainless steel growlers to their original glory. Sprinkle in the amount specified in the directions, fill your growler with hot water, and stir until the powder is completely dissolved. Let the filled growler sit for 15 minutes before moving on to your next step. (Seems like a good time to enjoy a cold one while you’re waiting for your timer to go off!)

    How to clean a growler

    Step 4: Use a brush

    Next, use a brush to give your growler a good scrub. Make sure you don’t use a brush with metal wires for cleaning your growler because it might damage the container. This is more of a concern with glass or ceramic growlers, but stainless steel growlers can still get damaged over time. A brush like DrinkTanks Tank Brush is perfect for cleaning any stainless steel growler. Its extra-dense sisal bristles are scratch-resistant and full coverage and the extra-long 18″ handle ensures you’ll get every inch of your growler clean, no matter the size. Take care not to scratch the sealing ring inside the cap. Use cold water for this step.

    How to clean a growler

    Step 5: Let it air dry

    Next, let your growler air dry upside down. Lean it against the wall at an angle so the water can drip out. Do NOT try and dry it with a towel. If you try drying it with a towel, you will most likely leave small fibers behind, affecting the overall quality of your next fill.

    Step 6: Leave the cap off

    Finally, don’t put the cap back on your growler until you plan to fill it next. Capping your growler will result in stagnant air, promoting bacteria growth. Allow the air to circulate to reduce this risk.

    Once your stainless steel growler is properly cleaned and cared for, it’s brewery clean and ready to go! Cheers!

    I’m a fan of beer growlers. My husband and I have a few from our favorite breweries, and they take turns tagging along with us when we go out for dinner so we can bring some fresh draft beer home with us.

    What I don’t like about beer growlers is their thin necks and tiny openings that make them challenging to clean. But if you handle them properly (and immediately), they’re easier to keep clean than you might think.

    Clean it right away

    As soon as you’ve poured that last ounce of beer, rinse the growler out a few times with hot (but not boiling) water. If you’ve got a sprayer attachment on your sink, that works great to get into all the crevices of the growler, but regardless, immediate hot water poured in and swished around should do the trick.

    Avoid soap

    Soap can leave a residue on the glass and affect the taste of your next beer, so most beer connoisseurs recommend against using dishwashing liquid. (That includes putting the growler in the dishwasher, which you shouldn’t do anyway because it might get chipped or damaged by other dishes.)

    Other more effective options for extra-dirty growlers is to fill them with water and a little vinegar and swish or soak it with water and a bit of unscented OxiClean. If you’re a regular growler-user, it might be worth investing in a bottle of Star San , a foaming, no-rinse sanitizer.

    If you’ve got a soft-bristle brush or baby bottle brush, that can help scrub out any residue from the nooks and crannies, too; but steer clear of wire brushes that can damage the glass.

    Let it air dry

    After it’s rinsed, turn your growler upside down and prop it up so it has some breathing room to air dry. Let it air dry completely (a moist growler is a breeding ground for bacteria). Then—and this is important—do not put the cap back on. Do not store your growler with the cap on. Air needs to circulate in the growler to avoid bacteria growth, especially if you’re not using it regularly. Store the growler tucked away someplace where dust or debris won’t find its way inside.

    If you didn’t clean it right away

    We should all clean our growlers immediately and properly upon consuming the last drop, but sometimes we don’t. If you’ve finished your beer and you’re not in the mood to clean up (or you’re not near a sink), the folks at The Glass Jug recommend storing it in a cooler or refrigerator. The cold temperature will help limit any bacteria growth until you’re ready to clean.

    When in doubt, give it a whiff

    After you’ve cleaned it—and again before you are about to refill it—give that growler the old sniff test. If it smells funky, it is funky and you’ll need to rinse again. If it’s odorless, you should be good to go.

    How to clean a growler

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    The old-timey glass containers known as growlers may be bulky and don’t necessarily fit well in your cabinets, but they do allow you to do something magical — enjoy fresh draft beer at home. Once only known to your beer-nerd friend who just got back from some microbrewery tours in Colorado, it seems like every other bar and grocery store that has opened in Dallas now offers a range of customized growlers and the option to fill them on-site.

    As a Dallas craft beer-enthusiast, there’s no doubt you’ve already jumped on the bandwagon and invested in a growler or two for yourself. But what are you supposed to do once the delicious liquid is drained from the bottom? How does one clean and store such a thing?

    We sat down with a few local experts on the subject to get some real answers on how to make the most of your growler experience and avoid pissing off your bartender.

    Ok, let’s go ahead and get this one out of the way first. How the hell am I supposed to clean this damn thing? Tommy Gutierrez, who fills growlers at Whole Foods Market Addison and Craft & Growler: The best way is to just rinse it with hot water — as hot as you can stand — a few times, then leave it upside-down to dry.

    John Jose, co-founder of Dallas-based Union Growler Company: Absolutely. Never try and clean it with dish soap, because soap residue can stay in the growler and will give an off taste to your next beer. For that same reason, don’t run your growler through the dishwasher. If you do need to clean the growler, use a product like Star San (available at home brew stores), which is made specifically for cleaning brewing vessels.

    Tommy: Also, be sure to clean the cap the same way. I’ve seen a few caps, especially the white metal ones, which weren’t cleaned well and mold started to grow in the threads. Not good.

    How should I store it?

    John: You should always store your growler with the lid off to allow any residual moisture to evaporate from inside the growler. Then, the next time you use it, give it a quick rinse with plain water to get rid of any dust.

    Tommy: I attach the caps to the side of my growlers with a rubber band to make sure that they don’t get lost in the cupboard.

    Let’s say I’m at Whole Foods and want to take home Rahr & Sons Iron Thistle. A six-pack of 12 oz. bottles sells for $9.99, but a 64 oz. growler costs $11. Why should I pay more for less? Tommy: I hear this a lot, and the simple answer is that fresher is always better. You might get slightly more liquid volume from a six-pack, but drinking fresh draft beer is definitely going to be a more enjoyable experience.

    What separates a good growler filling station from a lousy one?

    John: I look for growler filling points that either flush the growler with CO2 before filling or inject CO2 while filling. This pushes oxygen — the enemy of fresh beer — out of the growler. Also, I watch to make sure the bartender fills the growler completely with liquid beer. Sometimes, they’ll fill it only to the point where the top of the head reaches the fill point on the growler, but that head will settle and you’ll end up with less beer.

    Tommy: I always want someone knowledgeable behind the bar who isn’t afraid to let me sample before I buy.

    Makes sense. But, couldn’t that be abused? How many samples is too many samples?

    Tommy: If you’re buying a growler, I will let you sample as many beers as you need to make a decision that you’ll be happy with. But, in most cases, especially if we’ve talked about what you’re looking for, I’d say around three samples should be enough. Some people want to spend a longer time sampling a wide variety of beers, and for them I recommend going ahead and buying a flight — almost every bar that offers growler fills will also offer flights for purchase. Then, you can take your time, have a little more of each beer, and enjoy yourself without feeling rushed. The bottom line, though, is that I want to make sure that every customer has a great experience and goes home with something they are going to enjoy.

    Another basic question — how long will the beer stay fresh once I bring it home?

    John: There are a couple of factors at play, including how well the growler was filled and what kind of lid you use. The best lids are black poly-seal screw tops or flip tops with a wire cage. Both of these will form a tight seal and minimize the amount of oxygen leaking into the growler, which minimizes spoilage. Metal screw tops aren’t airtight and the beer will spoil much quicker. With a good fill and a good seal, beer inside an unopened growler will last anywhere from 2 – 5 weeks.

    Tommy: But once you open it, you’ve introduced oxygen into the growler and the clock is ticking. Your beer will go flat within 24 to 48 hours after opening.

    As a bartender, what’s your pet peeve when it comes to filling growlers?

    Tommy: Man, stinky growlers for sure. I’ve seen several with actual mold growing inside, because the customer didn’t rinse it out well enough and then stored it with the cap on. You know it’s about to be bad when you can’t unscrew the cap due to the gas that’s built up. When I finally do pry it off, it usually smells like nail polish remover. This is no fun for me, and its no fun for the customer who has to wait for me to clean it or wind up with funky tasting beer.

    Anything else we should know?

    Tommy: This is random, but every growler filled in the State of Texas has to have the Surgeon General’s warning label on it. Sometimes, people will bring in growlers that they bought in other states with other laws, but in order for me to fill it I have to put a sticker with the warning label on their growlers. It’s not my rule; it’s state law.

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