How to clean a kegerator (DIY under 30 dollars)

Cleaning your kegerator and the beer lines is something every homebrewer and professional pub need to do alike. It can be difficult without a beer line cleaner, and therefore be tempting to skip doing it altogether. The risk comes from the beer that sits around in the lines of the kegerator. The stagnant beer is an excellent environment for bacteria and yeasts. An infection will ruin your newly kegged homebrew but in the worse case also risking to make you sick. The kegerator should be cleaned every few weeks, usually when swapping to a new keg, but even more often if the lines aren’t used regularly. This can be a real hassle if you don’t have a beer line cleaner.

Here are the top DIY cleaner for your kegerator and beer lines that you can build for under 30 dollars. Three are pressure-based and the last one mimics a commercial system with recirculation of the cleaning fluid. This is a must-have for anyone with a kegerator or just need to clean some transfer lines. As of today, I’m using the last one with the capability to recirculate the cleaning solution in my beer lines.

1. Use an old keg to clean the kegerator

The simplest way to clean beer lines and kegerators are to use and old keg and fill it with the cleaning solution. By applying some pressure with CO2 the cleaning solution is pushed through the lines to clean them. The main drawback is the need for a spare keg and the waste of CO2 to push the solution. If you want to use two different cleaning solutions this system becomes more complicated to work with.

Pros
  • Cheap
  • Nothing to build
Cons
  • Waste CO2
  • Need a spare keg
  • No recirculation

2. Use a manual garden sprayer to clean the kegerator

The second option is built upon a small pressure sprayer to hold the cleaning fluid. On the nozzle of the sprayer, a beer Carbonation Cap is attached with something like a small piece of tubing. Another option is to find a sprayer with a 3/8″ threaded out. The thread will accommodate a standard 3/8 threaded liquid line post, it´s a good idea to use some PTFE Plumbers Thread Tape to hinder any potential of leaks from the joint.

Pros
  • No waste of CO2
Cons
  • Small capacity
  • No recirculation

Manual Garden Sprayer Hand
Stainless Steel Carbonation Cap (Alternative Plastic Carbonation Cap)
PTFE Plumbers Thread Tape (optional)

Cost: (for latest prices check Amazon)

3. Use a garden sprayer to clean the kegerator

The third option is an evolution of the first pressure build. Instead of using a small pressure sprayer the heart of the system is the bigger pressure system. The benefits compared to the smaller is a higher capacity if you have multiplay lines to clean and it´s easier to build. The drawback will come at a slightly bigger footprint compared to the second option.

Pros
  • No waste of CO2
  • Large capacity
  • Easy to build
Cons
  • No recirculation
  • Large footprint
beer line cleaner

Build:

  1. Remove the sprayer handle
  2. Push the Cabonation Cap onto the line,
  3. (Optional) If needed use a hose clamp to secure the cap

Garden Sprayer 1 Gallon Lawn
Stainless Steel Carbonation Cap (Alternative Plastic Carbonation Cap)

Cost: (for latest prices check Amazon)

4. Build a recirculation cleaner for a kegerator

The last option uses a pump to recirculate the cleaning solution through the beer lines and faucets. This mimics a commercial unit and will increase the efficiency of the cleaning. If you have springloaded beer faucets you might need to push/hold them open or remove them during the cleaning of the lines.

The recirculation will clean the beers for a longer time period and the flow will help to clean out harder sediments, this is why commercial units use recirculation flow for beer line cleaning.

It’s easy to change the fluid, just put the pump into another bucket of solution and start it again, wasting the first portion of solution coming out from the faucet before directing it back into the bucket.

Commercial cleaners recommend a contact time of 15min.

Pros
  • Recirculation of the cleaning solution.
  • Better cleaning
  • Easy swap of solution
Cons
  • Complex design
  • More expensive than the other options

Build:

  1. Cut off the connectors on both the pump and power adapter.
  2. Strip the cable so you can see the wires with a scissor or knife (be careful not to cut yourself)
  3. Connect the blue with the blue and red with the red wire by twisting both ends around each other. Optional, solder the wires for a better connection.
  1. Use some electric tape to secure the wires from shorting each other.
  2. Add a hose to the outlet of the pump and connect the Carbonation Cab to the other.
beer line cleaner

12v submersible pump (Updated recommended model) (the one I got is 12v submersible pump))
240V to 12V EU or 115 to 12V US power adapter
Stainless Steel Carbonation Cap (Alternative Plastic Carbonation Cap)
Scotch Vinyl Electrical Tape
☐ Some spare hose

Cost: (for latest prices check Amazon)

How often do you need to clean your beer lines?

With normal use, a recommendation is to clean the beer lines when swapping to a new fresh keg. It usually takes between three to four weeks to empty a 5-gallon keg, and that is plenty of time to have some growing in the lines or tap.

As long as the beer lines are attached to a keg there will be a closed system, however, if you disconnect the lines this system is broken. The recommendation is not to let empty and disconnected lines sit for any length of time between kegs. A disconnected line with beer residue will mould within days.

Cleaning a two-tap system and the beer lines takes me about 30 minutes, most of the time it’s not active work because of the recirculation system. If you spent a day brewing, waited for the fermentation to finish, kegged your homebrew, don’t run the chance that you ruin it by not cleaning your beer lines.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.