Keeping Your Milking Equipment Clean

Maintaining clean, sanitary milking equipment is essential for consistently achieving low bacteria results. The following steps serve as a refresher on solution temperatures and concentrations to keep ahead of cleaning issues. Note that water used to make up cleaning and sanitizing solutions must be potable ('drinking quality').


Hot water is essential for removal of organics (fats and proteins).

  • First rinse must be between 115-120 degrees F (46-49°C). This removes the majority of the milk from the pipeline system. Do not recirculate the first rinse.
  • Wash cycle requires 170-180 degree F (77-82°C) at the start of the wash. More importantly do not allow the water temperature to go below 120 degrees F (49°C) at the end of the wash as fat will start to re-deposit on pipeline/tank surfaces.
  • Acid cycle. Hot water is not generally required for the acid cycle as this is a chemical reaction to remove mineral deposits from milk and hard water. Follow label recommendations for temperature as posted on the wash chart.


Cleaning chemicals emulsify fat and remove protein and mineral deposits. Sanitizers remove microbiological contamination from equipment.

  • First rinse uses fresh water.
  • Wash cycle requires an alkaline based chemical with chlorine. There are three important elements to the detergent wash cycle:
    1. Alkalinity should be between 1100-1200 ppm which is higher than the 900 ppm required for cow milk (your dealer can check this)
    2. pH should be a minimum of 12 (this can be easily monitored with pH strips that read between 1-14)
    3. Chlorine concentration in the wash cycle should be between 100-200 ppm (dealer can check this)
  • Acid cycle removes mineral deposits left by milk (such as milkstone) and water (such as calcium and iron). Acid solution should have a pH between 3-4 (this can also be monitored with pH strips)

Milk fat build-up in a pipeline appears as a greasy film.

Figure 1. Milk fat build-up in a pipeline appears as a greasy film.

Iron build-up appears as a yellowish/brown film

Figure 2. Iron build-up appears as a yellowish/brown film.

Manual cleaning requires the same diligence as clean-in-place (CIP). Buckets, pails, strainers and bulk tanks need to be rinsed and washed with manual detergents approved for use in food production and given an acid rinse after each milking or milk pick up. Talk to your chemical supplier for proper cleaning products and procedures.

Equipment must be sanitized before milking or before starting to fill the bulk tank, in order to kill any bacterial growth on equipment surfaces between milkings. Three common chemicals used to sanitize milking equipment are chlorine, hydrogen peroxide and acid. Chlorine can cause rubber parts to break down leaving a blackish film ('inking') so talk to your chemical supplier about which products will work best in your situation and recommended concentrations.

Agitator paddle with a milk fat build-up.

Figure 3. Agitator paddle with a milk fat build-up.

Note: It is a good idea to have a hand held thermometer to check on wash temperatures, pH strips to check solution strengths, and a good flashlight to check for build-up on equipment inside pipelines and bulk tanks.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Author: Peter Maw, Dairy Food Safety Program, OMAFRA
Creation Date: 09 August 2017
Last Reviewed: 31 August 2017