January 05, 2021
The only way to ensure you're getting the best tasting beer from your kegerator every pour is making sure your system is clean. Luckily, cleaning your kegerator isn't difficult and it can take as little as 15 minutes to complete but there are several different methods you can use to get the job done. Here is the ultimate guide to cleaning kits and how to keep your kegerator clean.
Why use a cleaning kit?
Cleaning your kegerator system is essential not only for the taste of the beer but to increase the longevity of the dispense parts in your kegerator. Proper care of these parts means you'll spend less time and money replacing parts over time. The most obvious reason for using a cleaning kit is to ensure you're achieving the best taste and dispense experience.
Dirty beer lines can lead to excessive foam and particles of old beer contaminating your fresh beer. Additionally, dirty beer lines can harbor bacteria that will contaminate your fresh beer. A cleaning kit uses equipment that can properly access and clean your kegerator parts. It also uses proper food-grade sanitizer, which not only breaks down particles but eliminates bacteria for fresh and clean tasting beer.
Buildup of bacteria, yeast, and mold aren't the only terrible things that you can find in your beer lines. Beer stones, known as calcium oxalate, is a toxic precipitate that promotes the growth of microbes and is known to cause sores if ingested. Not to mention, your beer will taste awful if you have any of these building up or hiding in your dispense system. To keep your beer flowing smoothly and tasting fresh, clean beer lines are essential. Learn more about the parts of your kegerator by reading our article on the Anatomy of a Kegerator.
How often should you be cleaning your kegerator?
The rule of thumb is your kegerator should be cleaned at least after every keg or every two weeks at a minimum. This is extremely important to prevent contamination from your previous keg to your new keg. Additionally, if you haven't used your kegerator in some time, it is important to ensure all your beer parts, especially your faucets and keg couplers are clean. You don't want old particles, dust, or bacteria to contaminate your next pour.
Powder VS. Liquid Cleaners
Both powder and liquid beer line cleaning solutions will thoroughly clean your kegerator but it really comes down to consistency. Both formulations have to be dissolved into water before cleaning your kegerator. A liquid cleaner is easier to dissolve and isn't as messy. Powder solutions can leave behind residue but if properly dissolved, it shouldn't be an issue. Powder solutions are more travel friendly and easier for storage.
No-Rinse Cleaner VS. Standard Cleaner
You will find that there are two types of cleaners available, the standard cleaner that requires a flushing step afterward and no-rinse cleaner, which does not require you to flush your dispense system afterwards. The purpose of no-rinse is to save you time and resources, like water. No-rinse cleaners are great for when you have limited time in between kegs, ideal for commercial purposes or if you have limited access to water.
What kind of cleaning kit should I get?
When it comes to cleaning methods, the biggest difference is the equipment being used, which will save you some time. The more efficient and convenient the cleaning method, the higher the cost of the kit. It is best to choose a cleaning kit that will suit your cleaning preferences because cleaning kits are designed to be used universally on all kegerators.
Gravity Cleaning Kit
Gravity cleaning kits are economical compared to other methods. This method uses gravity to flow the cleaning solution through your dispense system, exiting from the keg coupler. It is important to place a bucket under the coupler to catch the solution.
These kits tend to come with a bottle for your cleaning solution and are often designed to connect to your beer tower. Using your dispense system's check ball lifter to hold the bottle upright and allow it to drain through the system. After the solution has run through the system, be sure to rinse your system out with cold water to remove any residue.
Hand Pump Cleaning Kit
Instead of using gravity to pass the cleaning solution through the system, this method uses a manual hand pump to force the solution through your draft system. Hand pump cleaning kits use pressure to push the solution through your beer lines ensures that particles and buildup that get stuck on the sides of your beer lines will be pushed out.
Placing a bucket at the end of the coupler, you take the dissolved solution in the bottle and pump it through your system. When you are done, a thorough rinse of your system with water is recommended. These kits are popular for cleaning direct draw and residential kegerators.
Pressurized Cleaning Kit
Pressurized beer line cleaning kits are a very fast and efficient means to clean your system. A pressurized kit includes a large bottle that is essentially a keg with a cleaning solution that is to be tapped into your system, just like a keg. Using the gas tank from your system, the solution is forced through your dispense system blasting out any residue and buildup.
Pressurized cleaning kits don't require you to remove the faucet before cleaning, saving the time of disassembly. Like with the other systems, flushing the system with water is recommended. While an expensive option, this is the fastest and most thorough cleaning method available.
Beer Line Cleaning Accessories
Cleaning kits often come with a few key beer line cleaning accessories for successfully and thoroughly cleaning your dispense system. You can also find these accessories sold separately for your replenishment needs. These accessories each play a major role in the cleaning process and ensure your dispense system will be clean.
Faucet or Cleaning Brushes
Made of nylon or stainless steel, these small brushes are designed to get into small and narrow spaces to thoroughly scrub those areas and prevent buildup from sticking. This is especially important if you are using a gravity or hand pump kit. From faucet brushes to pipeline cleaning brushes, you should be able to clean every part of your kegerator to ensure you have the perfect pour every time.
An underrated essential for keeping your dispense system running smoothly, probe lubricant maintains a single-valve keg coupler's moving parts. This lubricant is a food grade, odorless, tasteless, and safe to consume product.
Faucet Spanner Wrench
In order to clean your system thoroughly, you will often need to remove the faucet. A faucet wrench is designed for removing your faucet and it is an essential. Luckily, these are very affordable and are often universal for most faucets.
How to Properly Clean Beer Lines
Learn how to clean your beer lines from out kegerator experts: