I thoroughly wash my mechanical media under running tap water, and biomedia gets a quick splash to get any gunk off. Washing with tap water won't sterilize the media - it just gets recolonized by what survives. Is it a good idea to wash month old media that just finished cycling in tap water? Of course not, but one should not wash their filter media in any way for as long as possible after completing the cycle, so that should never happen
Cycles are delicate when they are new... But once they are well established they are all but bulletproof.
I am not trying to get the OP to go do what I do, but rather just to know that they needn't live in fear forever - only the first few months
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