How to Build a DIY Keg and Carboy Washer
If you have read our step-by-step article on how to completely disassemble and clean a keg, you know how time consuming it is to take a keg completely apart, clean everything with PBW, rinse it, sanitize it, and reassemble it. After my last kegging day, I was determined not to spend hours tearing apart and scrubbing my kegs inside and out. After all, kegging is supposed to be easier than bottling, not harder!
Sure, you could just buy a keg washer like one of these ones, but that doesn’t really fit the homebrewer’s DIY mentality, does it? There are several DIY keg washers out there that other brewers have built, and I put this one together based on the things I liked about each of the ones I looked at. I especially liked Matt’s DIY Keg Washer, which you can see here. I already had an extra clean water pump sitting on my brewing gear shelf, so this was the perfect project to get that incorporated into a usable piece of equipment. After a quick, inexpensive trip to the hardware store to get the rest of the items I needed, I was ready to start building.
Over time, I have created additional add-on pieces for this washer to create an all-in-one cleaning and sanitizing solution for my kegs, fermenters, beer lines, and tap faucets. Instructions for each of those attachments will be added below . Ready to build your own? Here’s how!
How to Build a DIY Keg and Carboy Washer
Like all DIY projects, I recommend adjusting the design to fit your needs and to accommodate any of the parts you already have on hand. You may need different sized coupler pieces of PVC to attach the washer to your pump, so just adjust the sizes as needed to connect the pieces together. If you find a better way to build any of these parts, or add any other design elements or attachments, let us know how it goes!
- Carboy Washer:
- Submersible Clean Water Pump. I recommend a powerful pump, around 600 gallons per hour. Lower GPH pumps don’t produce enough pressure to get a good cleaning stream to clean well.
- 2 feet of ¾” PVC pipe
- 2 x ¾” PVC cap
- 2 feet of ½” PVC pipe
- 1 x ½” PVC cap
- ¾ to ½ reducer coupler
- Large Fermenting Bucket and lid (if you have a smaller pump you can use a standard 5 gallon bucket, but my pump is too large to sit in a 5-gallon bucket nicely.
- Keg Washer Attachment:
- 2 x 2″ pieces of 3/4 PVC pipe
- 3/4″ PVC T-Connector
- 3/4″ PVC Press Connector to 1/2″ Female Threaded L-Connector
- 1/2″ Male Threaded PVC to 3/16″ hose barb adapter
- About 10 feet of 3/16” Vinyl Tubing
- 3/16” T-fitting
- Gas Line Quick Connect
- Beer Line Quick Connect
- 6 x Hose Clamps
Building the Basic DIY Carboy Washer
Using your hacksaw, cut the ¾” PVC into the following pieces:
- 1 x 2”
- 2 x 3¾”
- 1x 2.5”
Using your hacksaw, cut the ½” PVC into a 17.5” piece
Using your drill and 3/16 drill bit, drill holes across your piece of ½” PVC. I recommend spreading them out fairly evenly, about 5 per line, 4 across the diameter in an alternating pattern. Additionally, change the angle of the drill slightly for each hole so that the water sprays in slightly different directions. This will help water spray the whole inside surface of the keg.
Using your drill and 3/16 drill bit, drill a series of holes around the side of the 12” PVC cap near the top. Change the angle of the drill slightly for each hole so that they spray water in slightly different directions.
After drilling holes around the perimeter of the top, drill a series of holes in the top of the ½” PVC cap (15 or 16 holes total). Again, change the angle of the drill slightly for each hole so that they spray water in slightly different directions.
Determine what size attachment piece(s) is/are required to attach the assembly to your pump and obtain a connector piece that will allow it to be connected to a piece of ¾” PVC. I ended up needing a few extra pieces, but that’s because I started from a pump I already had.
Assemble all of your pieces. I do not recommend gluing them. It is nice to be able to easily disassemble the pieces if needed, and I have never had an issue with mine coming apart. Just press them together firmly. Use the chart below as an assembly guide, but make changes as needed for your particular design.
Attach to your pump, put the assembly in a bucket of water, and give it a try! If you are using this washer to clean a carboy, cut about a 6” hole in a bucket lid and place the lid over the washer so that the carboy can sit on it.
Congratulations! Now you don’t need to take your kegs apart between each use. Just run hot water and some PBW through your keg for about 10 minutes using this washer. Then do a few rinses by adding hot and then cold clean water to the bucket, rinsing the keg, and then replacing the water and doing it again until there is no more PBW present. After that, you can just add some cold water and StarSan to the bucket and run it one more time to sanitize all of the internal surfaces of the keg. This same process works for cleaning and sanitizing your fermenters and beer lines.
I do still recommend disassembling your kegs every once in a while to do regularly scheduled keg maintenance, like checking and replacing seals, etc. Not sure how to take a keg apart? Check out our guide to disassembling and cleaning a keg.
Building the Keg Washer Attachment
The keg washer attachment is very easy to build and is removable from the rest of the unit for when you’re washing carboys. To build the Keg Washer attachment:
- Cut two 2″ pieces from the leftover 3/4″ PVC pipe. You’ll use these to attach the other components together.
- Push one of your 2″ pieces of 3/4″ PVC pipe into one side of your 3/4″ PVC T-Connector and one in the bottom.
- Attach the PVC L-connector/reducer to the bottom part of your T-Connector. The PVC L-connector/reducer should have one side that is a 3/4″ push fitting and one side that is a 1/2″ female threaded connection.
- Thread your 1/2″ male threaded PVC to 3/16″ hose barb connector into the L-connector.
- Cut your 3/16″ vinyl hose into:
- 2 x 6″ pieces
- 1 x 12″ piece
- Attach one of the 6″ pieces of your 3/16″ barb, and attach the 3/16″ barbed T-connector to the other side, securing both ends with hose clamps.
- Attach the other two pieces of 3/16″ PVC hose to the barbed T-connector and secure the ends with hose clamps.
- Attach the beer and gas line quick connects to the ends of the hoses and secure them with hose clamps.
- That’s it! This assembly now fits in between your pump and the rest of the keg washer assembly.
That is a little bit difficult to explain step-by-step, so here’s a short video explaining the keg washer assembly.
And that’s it! Have you built your own keg or carboy washer and have tips to share? Do you have any ideas for other useful attachments for this unit? Leave a comment below or post in the Forums!
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This is awesome thank you! As someone who has wanted to try brewing, but has been a bit less enthusiastic as I’ve seen how long the cleaning process takes, this is perfect. Friends have loved brewing beer but stopped because of how tedious the cleaning can be. Looking forward to trying this out!
Would love to see the additional instructions for fermenters, beer lines, and tap faucets!
Thanks Gregg!!! We’re glad you found this helpful! The setup above will take care of your kegs and fermenters, and we’re working on finalizing the beer line/faucet cleaner attachment now! We had one solution but we found an easier way and are waiting on one more part go arrive to get those build instructions done. It won’t be long!! Thanks again for your support and for being here on BrewTogether!!!