If you've shelled out your hard-earned money for a premium hose, you'll want to know how to make your investment last. Here's what you need to know about how to clean your hose.
One note, this guide is for rubber-type hoses like GlideTech Butyl Brewery Hose or GlideTech Distillery Hose. PVC-based hoses like Kanaline & Kanaflex are less hardy (though less expensive). They can't withstand the same temperatures, and are more sensitive to aggressive cleaning and sanitizing chemicals.
With that caveat out of the way, let's talk about how to clean yer hose!
Cleaning Frequency for Clean Freaks
There's a dilemma when it comes to hose cleaning: clean hose lasts longer than dirty hose, but the act of cleaning inevitably shortens a hose's lifespan. High temperatures and aggressive cleaning & sanitizing chemicals can be tough on its interior. So, what do you do? How often do you clean?
In principle you should clean your hose frequently: whenever you are finishing use for the day, whenever you are concerned about cross-contamination of flavors, or whenever allergens could migrate between products. Any of those are good times to engage your cleaning protocol.
To minimize wear and tear on the hose, keep exposure to cleaning and sanitizing agents to the minimum amount necessary in order to be effective. In other words, more isn't always better.
The Nitty Gritty: Steps for Clean Hose
Step One: Hot Water
The first step to cleaning effectively is a rinse with hot potable water. It's best to do this as soon as possible after you're done using the hose. Hot water will facilitate the cleaning process no matter what you ultimately use as a cleaning agent. It'll break down any large bits and make the hose more "receptive" to detergents. Be sure to note the hose's maximum process temperature, and don't let the water get any hotter than that. After this step, drain any residual water away completely.
Step Two: Cleaning/Disinfecting
There are a lot of choices when it comes to cleaning agents: peracetic acid, caustic soda, steam, as well as proprietary cleaners. The cleaning agent you use will depend on what you're trying to clean from the hose interior. Whatever you use, follow the manufacturer's recommended guidelines with respect to concentration amounts.
If you are using steam as a physical disinfectant it's important to note that there is a time limit to how long the interior of the hose should be exposed to steam. Typically, Butyl and UPE-lined hoses should be in contact with steam for no longer than 30 minutes, with a maximum temperature of 266 °F / 130 °C. Silicone hoses should not be steam-cleaned for longer than 18 minutes.
For commonly-used chemical and physical cleaners and disinfectants, here's a handy chart that outlines maximum concentrations, temperatures and time in contact.
Step Three: Rinse Again
Now that the hose has been cleaned and disinfected, it's time to rinse again. You'll need to rinse for a sufficiently long time to ensure that any residual chemicals are completely removed. The manufacturer of your cleaning agent or the company you purchased it from may be able to tell you how long you need to rinse to completely eliminate any residual detergent.
Step Four: Dry & Store
Hose should be stored completely dry. This is crucial. A damp environment promotes the growth of bacteria, and may make it more attractive to critters looking for a home. The best hose storage solutions will keep the hose out of the way, off the floor, and at an angle that allows water to freely run out. That means you don't want to store hose coiled.
If you can mount several hose hooks that run the length of your wall and fully support the hose, that's best. Position the hooks such that the hose is running down toward the floor for draining. Alternately, have the center hose hook slightly higher than the ends so that liquid can run out either side.
Once it's completely dry, you can cap off the ends so that nothing crawls inside when you're not looking and tries to make a home in your hose.
More Hose Storage Tips
Store Hose “Loose”
Since hoses are typically made of rubber compounds, let's use a rubber band as analogy for hose storage:
Imagine you take a rubber band and wrap it a few times around a tennis ball and leave it in a windowsill exposed to the sun. What will happen to the rubber band after a few days or weeks if left in the same position? Eventually, the rubber band will start to crack. After enough time it'll snap. Even if it doesn't break, when you take it off it will certainly be brittle and have lost much of its elasticity. What can we learn from this analogy?
Just as you don't want to leave the rubber band stretched over the ball, you don't want to leave a hose in a position where the rubber is under strain. Hoses are extruded on long, straight mandrels. They last longest when stored completely uncoiled. That's their "natural state". This means that flinging hose over the top of tanks is, in principle, a no-no (though we often see it).
Store Hose Away from Sunlight & Ozone
Just like the rubber bands in the windowsill, UV rays from the sun will break rubber down rapidly. Leave your hose out of the sun and away from UV rays. Store it somewhere indoors, or at least in the shade.
Another ambient element that can have a deleterious effect on rubbers is ozone. So, unless you have clearance from the hose manufacturer that ozone won't effect the compounds in your hose, keep the ozone generator away when disinfecting.
Another source of ozone that may not be as obvious is electrical equipment with large transformers. They can naturally emit ozone as well. Keep the hose storage area away from electrical equipment like control panels and circuit breakers.
In Conclusion, and Some Handy Links
If you've followed the steps above, your hose is clean, dry, and ready to be used again. Don't forget to inspect it regularly—both outside and inside. If the exterior of the hose is cracked, dry, and discolored, it's a good bet that the interior is not faring much better. Shine a flashlight in the end and look for any cracks or flaking of the hose liner.
Hose does have a finite lifespan, usually 3–5 years depending on how it's been used. PVC hoses will have a shorter lifespan.
It's a good idea to note your hose's age somewhere you can easily find, and get on a hose replacement schedule accordingly. Buying new hose may seem expensive, but it's cheaper than losing customers due to off flavors migrating from old worn-out hose. Or worse, recalling product due to contamination.
Finally, here are a couple of documents you can refer to regularly. Hopefully they'll help you design a world-class hose cleaning protocol that helps you get the most out of the hoses you buy.