How To Clean a Kegerator & Clean Keg Draft Lines
If your brew doesn’t taste right, you might need to clean your Kegerator and draft lines. Whether using this equipment at home or in a commercial environment, it’s an almost unforgivable sin to allow poorly-maintained equipment to interfere with the taste of your draft. So, how do you clean your Kegerator and draft lines?
To clean your kegerator and draft lines, use specially-designed beer line cleaners to remove sediment and yeast residue left in the system. For best results, disassemble the entire system for a thorough clean.
Read on for more detailed information and tips on how to clean your kegerator and draft lines
1. Get Cleaning Equipment
Here’s what you will need to clean your Kegerator and draft lines:
- Gloves – These will protect your hands from hot water and caustic chemicals that you will use to clean your draft lines and equipment. Rubber household cleaning gloves will work.
- Safety glasses – As a precaution, you should protect your eyes from accidental splashes when using caustic cleaning solutions. You can buy these from a DIY store.
- Liquid line cleaner – Specialty chemicals are essential for cleaning sediments and yeasts from the lines and tap.
- Clean hot water – You will need this to rinse the lines and parts. If you have a powder-based liquid line cleaner, you must mix it with water.
- Brushes – Brushes are helpful if you need to scrub certain parts to eliminate sediments.
- Cleaning bottle and pump – You can use these to flow the cleaning agent through the lines. Bar-King Quick Connect Kegerator Beer Line Cleaning Kit (available on Amazon) comes with cleaning powder, and you can use it for both standard and ball-lock kegs.
- 2 Buckets – Use one bucket to catch the waste cleaning solution and water to rinse the lines and the other to soak the faucet and coupler.
- Beer faucet wrench – You will need this tool to remove the beer tap for cleaning. KegWorks Heavy Duty Beer Faucet and Hex Nut Wrench (available on Amazon) combines a spanner wrench for tightening faucets and a hex wrench for your keg coupler. It also has an ergonomic rubber grip.
You can find most of these items at home except for a pump that flows the cleaning agent through your draft lines.
Instead of buying each item individually, you could purchase a beer line cleaning kit. Kegconnection Kegerator Beer Line Cleaning Kit (available on Amazon) is affordable and comes with the wrench, cleaning solution, and brushes. You’ll get about 20 cleanings out of the solution.
2. Disassemble Your Kegerator
This step involves disassembling your Kegerator and can feel quite daunting if you’ve never done it. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Turn the CO2 Tank Off
Ensure that your CO2 tank is in the off position. You can do this by adjusting the regulator to 0 PSI. After this, you can safely disconnect the coupler from the Kegerator and set the CO2 tank to one side while you disassemble it.
Store the CO2 tank upright, outside your home, and in a sheltered area that’s protected from rain and snow.
2. Loosen the Tap
Use the faucet wrench to loosen the tap. Remember that Kegerator beer faucets employ a left-hand thread, so you must turn it clockwise to remove it.
If your threads are in good condition, you should be able to remove the faucet by hand once you have cracked the nut.
3. Check the Faucet Threads for Corrosion
If you feel a slight grinding or biting sensation as you remove the draft faucet, check the threads for rust. If any corrosion is evident on the threads (look for a white powdery residue), you should clean it before reassembly.
You can clean rusty threads on your Kegerator tap by spraying a little WD40 on a small piece of a scouring pad and gently scrubbing the threads so as not to damage them.
All you’re doing here is removing the corrosion on the surface. If you don’t, it acts as an abrasive, slowly destroying the threads. You are more likely to strip or cross-thread if you don’t deal with rusty threads.
4. Disassemble the Faucet if Needed
Depending on how dirty your system is, it may be prudent to disassemble the faucet entirely to give it the best possible clean.
Disassembling your beer faucet will allow you to inspect all the seals and washers for wear and deterioration. If these get damaged, your beer tap might start to leak.
Inspect Your Faucet Carefully
Faucets take the brunt of wear and tear, and the best ones are made of stainless steel and are highly resistant to wear. Plated brass taps are also common.
If you notice exposed brass on your tap, it is a strong candidate for replacement. While brass is generally considered safe, damaged plating can allow sediment and bacteria to build up faster.
If you need a replacement tap, this MRbrew Draft Beer Keg Tap (available on Amazon) is constructed of 304 stainless steel, which will not rust and contaminate your beer.
3. Prepare Your Cleaning Solution
There are many cleaning solutions available for cleaning draft equipment. Most of them come in powder form and will give clear instructions on how to mix them up. Read the instructions carefully and take note of any first-aid instructions.
You need 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of beer line cleaning powder to 1 gallon (3.8 liters) of water, but this varies depending on the manufacturer. Wear gloves when mixing and handling caustic cleaning chemicals and observe the safety precautions.
You will also need clean hot (but not boiling) water to mix the cleaning solution. This increases its effectiveness. Hotter is better, but you should always keep the gloves on to prevent burning your hands.
A More Natural Solution
Some Kegerator owners like baking soda and vinegar to clean their draft lines and taps. This may work if your lines are fairly clean to start with, but for the best results, you should use a commercially available option.
Baking soda and vinegar are relatively inexpensive and widely available. You can buy them in the grocery store, in bulk, or online.
Five Star PBW Non-Caustic Alkaline Cleaner (available on Amazon) is an environmentally friendly option if you don’t want to use acidic cleaners. However, you should still wear gloves with natural alkaline cleaners as they may irritate your skin.
4. Soak Your Faucet and Coupler
Before cleaning the lines, take one of your buckets, put your faucet and coupler in it, and cover them with the cleaning solution.
Allow your faucet and coupler to soak for at least 15-30 minutes. Ideally, you will have disassembled the faucet for this step. You don’t have to strip the faucet each time, but try to do it every other time you clean your Kegerator unless you change kegs frequently.
Don’t use all of the cleaning solution to soak your parts because you’ll need some for the lines. You only need enough to ensure that the parts are entirely submerged in the solution.
5. Clean Your Draft Lines
There is no one-size-fits-all approach regarding cleaning your draft lines, and the steps below serve as a general guideline. Refer to any instructions you may have received with your cleaning kit and adjust as necessary.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Fill the cleaning bottle with the premixed cleaning solution. Wear gloves and safety glasses while handling the solution.
- Put an empty bucket in your Kegerator. Ensure that the line is inside or lined up with it.
- Fit the bottle with the solution and pump the cleaning solution through the beer lines. Ensure the bottle securely attaches to the pump and the solution gets caught in the bucket.
- Let the solution remain in the lines for a few minutes. This will help eliminate any stubborn sediments.
- Use a pipe brush where necessary. If your lines are heavily soiled, this is recommended. It can be time-consuming scrubbing the lines but worth it to remove the residue.
- Clean the bottle and fill it with hot water. Be as thorough as possible to ensure there is no caustic cleaner left in the bottle.
- Rinse the lines thoroughly. It’s good practice to rinse a few times – having a clean bucket to catch the rinse water can help you determine when the lines are satisfactorily rinsed. This will ensure that you don’t have any caustic residue. Even ingesting small amounts can be harmful. Don’t forget to rinse the parts.
6. Inspect the Beer Lines
The flexible clear tubing used to transport your brew from the keg to your glass is an often-overlooked wear item for draft equipment. If your beer has been tasting stale or old, this could be the culprit.
If you notice any yellowing, cracking, or other imperfections in your beer lines, they should be replaced. Bad lines can disrupt the beer’s flow and create excessive foam.
Damaged or old beer lines are more effective at trapping impurities that can not only ruin the taste of your beer but also pose a health hazard. That odd taste you thought was natural homebrew bitterness might be more dangerous.
6. Scrub the Faucet and Coupler
Don’t take off your gloves and safety goggles just yet – it’s time to give the faucet and coupler some attention. You don’t need excessive force, but brushes can spray tiny droplets, and you don’t want to get caustic chemicals in your eyes or skin.
Use your brushes to carefully scrub the faucet and coupler to remove any beer residue that didn’t come off during soaking. Pay special attention to the inside of the faucet since this is where you are most likely to find stubborn residue.
Once you are satisfied, rinse everything thoroughly to ensure no residual caustic cleaner may contaminate the system. You’re nearly finished – but you should let everything dry properly before the next step to prevent corrosion.
7. Reassemble Your Kegerator
Once everything is completely dry, you can start reassembling it. For the keg coupler, simply attach the lines\’ and fit a keg if you have one ready.
If you disassembled your faucet, a light coat of silicone grease on the o-rings and moving parts would keep them in optimal condition. Silicone grease is a food-grade lubricant with NSF Registration No. 138969. Replace any worn washers or perished o-rings unless you want a leaky beer tap.
Once you have refitted the beer line to your tap, don’t forget to turn it anti-clockwise (left) to tighten it. A light coat of WD40 on the threads will help keep them from corroding. You only need to tighten it enough that it won’t come free by hand. Stripping threads here might necessitate a new tap or tower.
8. Establish A Cleaning Schedule
It is important to clean your Kegerator draft lines regularly. If you have ever been to a pub where your favorite brew didn’t taste quite right, it is likely that they did not maintain their equipment correctly.
You should clean your Kegerator draft lines and other equipment at least every 2 weeks or when you change the keg. Not doing this can affect your beer’s taste and could also make you sick due to the bacteria that is likely accumulating in the lines.
Setting a recurring reminder on your phone or maintaining a calendar for your draft equipment will ensure that you don’t forget. If you change kegs often, you may lose track of the time between cleanings, and you don’t want to wait until your friends start complaining about it.
If you’ve followed this guide carefully, you should now be able to enjoy an ice-cold draft from your Kegerator with the peace of mind that your equipment is safe and sanitary. It’s not an overly complex system but it does require routine maintenance if you want to enjoy your beer safely and responsibly.