You must clean all of your equipment right before you start brewing, and keep everything clean throughout the process. Bacteria and fungi are everywhere and if enough of them get into your beer they will completely ruin it. The bad part of this is that all of the cleaning and sanitizing can be tedious. The good part is that if you do clean everything fastidiously (which anyone can do with effort and concentration), you have a very good chance of making an excellent first batch of beer despite your inexperience.

At the first stage of brewing, you will need to clean and sanitize the following items: brewpot, primary fermenter, brew spoon, airlock and stopper, saucepan, small bowl, rubber spatula, and mixing spoon. Later stages will also require you to clean and sanitize other items.

Cleaning refers to the removal of any visible crud, sediment, film, dust, etc. from all of your equipment. This can be accomplished with dish soap or other non-lethal household cleansers and cloths or brushes. Don't use abrasive stuff, because it can scratch your equipment and make it more hospitable to crevice-dwelling bacteria. Once you've cleaned an item, rinse it well and set it on a clean counter-top or something until you are ready to sanitize it.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW Make Your Own Beer?