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Sanitizing corks before bottling

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Smoky Mountain Reign

Registered Member
Jan 26, 2012
Durham, North Carolina
I'm bottling 5 gallons of Grand Cru Bergamais (28 day wine kit) tonight. As for sanitizing the corks before bottling, typically I just make up a solution of oxy clean and well water. Let the corks float in the solution for 15 minutes or so and then grab one as I need one. I haven't had a problem with cross contamination yet. That being said, I have recently invested in Star Sans so I might follow the oxyclean soak and rinse with a quick squirt of Star Sans solution in a spray bottle.

This got me thinking...what routine do others use to sanitize corks?


Lifetime Patron
Lifetime GotMead Patron
I used to soak corks for a minimum of 30 minutes in metabisulphite solution prior to using, but that was before I learned that soaking corks can actually degrade their lifetime. These days I just give 'em a quick rinse in clean water, followed by a dunking (about 30-60 seconds) in StarSan solution, and from there they go right into the corker. I've had no issues with bottle infections doing it that way.

Some corks are now coated with a light layer of solid lubricant prior to sale, which makes insertion dry a feasible approach. If you do more than a quick rinse of those corks, you actually strip away the lubricant and make them harder for the corker to insert.

Chevette Girl

All around BAD EXAMPLE
Lifetime GotMead Patron
Apr 27, 2010
Ottawa, ON
I use one of this style of bottle washers to sanitize my bottles with sulphite solution, so when I'm all ready to cork after filling my sanitized bottles, I spray down my corker with sulphite solution, count out the number of corks I'll need, toss them in the washer's bowl, and just make sure each one's had a good dunking before I pop it in the corker. I used to boil them but you're not supposed to do that anymore because almost all composite corks are coated these days and boiling destroys that, although I never had a cork leak or fail, I have had a few that have had slight weeping of a very small amount of sticky liquid through the cork, just enough to obliterate the codes I'd labelled the corks with.
Etowah Meadery - Drink Unique
African Bronze Honey - 50% off for GotMead members