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How to Build a Keg & Carboy Washer - Do it Yourself Guide for Homebrewers

Note from Benjamin @ Homebrewsy: This is a special guest post from Andrew at Basewerks Brewing. Thanks Andrew!

A keg & carboy washer is an easy and inexpensive DIY homebrew essential for anyone that kegs their homebrew or uses narrow neck carboys. Imagine - no more scrubbing or disassembling kegs to clean them! No more ineffective scrubbing brush inside the carboy! No risk of scratches from that scrubbing giving bacteria a place to hide!

The more I brew, the more time I spend cleaning and sanitizing. It’s a key part of the brewing process, but I’ve started to look for ways to avoid manual cleaning. This “work smarter, not harder” mentality caused me to investigate options to clean and sanitize kegs and carboys by simply connecting some hoses and flipping a switch.  

This is a DIY version of popular keg washers available for purchase. DIY-ing a washer is significantly cheaper and will work for cleaning carboys as well. I was able to make one for around $50, taking advantage of some homebrew equipment I already had lying around.

 

Here’s the full parts list you’ll need. Your costs will vary, but I’ve included mine here to give you an idea of the total cost.


Item

Rough Cost

600+ Gal/hr Pump

$27

3 feet of 1/2" PVC

$1.76

1/2" PVC T fitting w/ female threaded end

$1.29

1/2" PVC cross fitting

$1.28

2x 1/2" PVC caps

$0.98

Male 1/2" threaded to 3/8" barb

$1.19

3/8" barbed T fitting

$2.04

2x 1/4" swivel flare nut with 3/8" barb

$3.72

6x 3/8" worm clamps

$8.50

1/2" PVC slip with male thread fitting

$0.70

Subtotal

$48.46

Homebrew items I had already that you may have laying around

Item

Rough Cost

CO2 quick disconnect

$6.50

Liquid quick disconnect

$6.50

2x five-gallon buckets

$6.50

28 inches of 3/8" tubing

$2.50

Subtotal

$22

Total

$70.45


Tools List

  • Power miter saw, hacksaw, or manual miter box
  • PVC primer and cement
  • Handheld drill with a 1/8" drill bit
  • Flathead Screwdriver

In true homebrew fashion, work with what you have. If you have ¼’’ hose around instead of ⅜’’, feel free to swap it out. I used a few scraps I had lying around. I took this as an opportunity to retire a couple of my fermenting buckets but new buckets from the hardware store will work great if you’ve got none ready to retire.

Note: The male threaded slip fitting is to attach the PVC sprayer to the pump. If your pump has a different diameter or thread you will need a different fitting. Check your pump specs to figure out exactly what you need.

Step 1 - Gather The Supplies

You can find most, if not all, of these items at your local hardware store. The one item that I could not find at the hardware store was the ⅜’’ barb to ¼’’ flare fittings to attach the ball lock disconnects. If the hardware store doesn’t carry them, your local homebrew shop might.

Be sure to pick up some PVC primer and cement if you don’t already have some from household plumbing projects.

 
Several of the inexpensive parts you'll need for this project


PVC cement and Primer for securing PVC parts together

Step 2 - Cut PVC to Length

The easiest way to do this is with a power miter saw. If you don’t have one, do not worry. You can use a hacksaw or manual miter box. The box is nice to have because it will help you make nice straight cuts and your pieces will fit together better. It is not required and you’ll be fine with manual cuts.

Here is your cutting list for the ½" PVC

  • 3 pieces @ 4 inches
  • 1 piece @ 18 inches
  • 1 piece @ 2 inches

 

Step 3 - Assemble

First, assemble the PVC with the PVC cement. Put it together without glue first to make sure you’ve got everything correct.

Safety first: Do this in a well-ventilated area, wear latex gloves, and put some cardboard down on the working surface. You do not want to get the primer or cement on your hands or get overcome by the fumes.

Here’s what the PVC should look like assembled:

I drilled a few holes on the top of my washer to ensure it would spray all over the interior of the keg. I did not glue the section with the tee to the cross section and left the threaded slip fitting by itself. This allows me to just attach the cross section to the pump and clean buckets/carboys also. I just slip the pieces I need to together when using the washer.

 

Next, use the worm clamps to attach the hose to the ⅜’’ tee barb. You will need two sections of 4.5’’ and a section around 18’’.

You will want to set it up just like this, with two sections of the tee going to the ball lock disconnects, and one going to the barb on the PVC.

  

Next, assemble the whole thing with the pump. Here's what it should look like:

Step 4 - Wash those Kegs!

The only thing left now is to put it to use the next time you kick a keg of homebrew or rack a carboy.

I listed two buckets in the equipment list because you can put PBW or any other standard homebrew cleaner in one and rinse water in the other. When cleaning day comes, put the keg washer into the PBW bucket, attached the ball locks to your keg, and turn on the pump for 10-15 minutes while you sip a tasty homebrew.  It's that simple.

If your keg has lots of caked on gunk, leave the washer on for a few more minutes or until everything is cleaned off. The PBW and running water will melt away any amount of buildup with enough time.

After it’s cleaned, transfer the washer and keg to the rinse bucket and turn it on for another 5-10 minutes and you’re all done. You can also fill the bucket with sanitizer and sanitize your keg before adding your next batch of brew or before storing it empty.

I disassemble my kegs once a year or after a particularly messy beer to check the o-rings, poppets, and pick-up tubes.  I do this to make sure everything on the keg is in working order but a good washer eliminates the need to do that every time.  

I hope this helps you clean and sanitize a little easier.

Provst!

Andrew from BaseWerks Brewing
@BasewerksBrewing on Instagram

Your Turn

Have a question? Leave it in the comments and we’ll try our best to help.

What DIY brewing equipment should we create a guide for next time? Let us know in the comments!

1 comment

  • I found this to be extremely helpful and thorough. I am gradually building on my brewing skills and will add this knowledge to my foundation. Thanks!

    Dr. Ivan Delgado

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