How often do you need to clean out your beer lines when using a home draft system? What type of cleaner do you use?
Can I leave sanitizer in the tubing when a line isn't in use?
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I haven't had a home keg system in quite some time (working on remedying that) but I used to do a weekly (or so) hot salt water flush and would use a full soak every month or so.
I wouldn't leave sanitizer in the tubing when not in use. Depending on the type you're using, it could cake or be corrosive over time. Instead, make it a practice to sanitize just before use. It's not difficult or time consuming. As you're getting everything else ready to put a beer on tap, give the tubing a full soak in either no-rinse sanitizer or (what I prefer) a bleach water soak with a bisulfate or metabisulfate rinse.
Best practice is: new keg = clean line. Bars and such can get away with multiple kegs per cleaning due to volume/time, but your home system likely won't see that frequency of use (and if it does... damn, dood!).
So, I have actually never cleaned my lines. The lines are refrigerated in the keezer, beer is sitting in the lines, when change out one keg for another, I run some of the new beer through into a pint to "clean out" the old beer and either enjoy the mix or dump that little bit. Never have a space open for a line to sit empty. When one keg blows, another is ready to take its place.
I guess, I could take the lines off the keg and run with hot water, but never had an issue. If I used a party line that sat out in a cooler of ice, then I would definitely clean that after use that day. Otherwise, not been an issue.
I tend to clean out my beer lines everytime change a keg to make sure that there are no deposits of sugars and yeasts in my line that could affect the taste of my beer. I use the deluxe beer line cleaning kit from Micro Matic. I never have tried leaving sanitizer in my tubes when I don't have them in use. It may work. Cheers!
I clean my lines about once a week with Oxy Clean or PBW. Also, whenever I clean a keg I use the gas to run the cleaner through the keg and out the lines, then do the same with water to rinse.
And I wouldn't leave sanitizer in the lines for extended periods of time. Contact time for iodophor and StarSan is supposed to be limited to around 20 - 30 minutes. Doing it longer won't kill you, but the porous plastic can take on some off flavors that can stick around for awhile until they work themselves out, which might be several pours later.