CIP: Clean-in-Place for Your Canning or Bottling Line

CIP Clean-in-place for Canning and Bottling
Alex Rabe, Dipl. Brew | Maker of hoppy beers and hoppy beards

Have you mastered your CIP (clean-in-place) process yet? When it comes to beverage quality, sanitary equipment is one of the primary ways to protect your product. We asked resident brewer and Wild Goose support expert Alex to give us the scoop on proper CIP practices.

Alex, what is CIP?

CIP stands for clean-in-place. CIP refers to the process of using automation and a chemical cleaning solution to clean a piece of equipment. The process is intended to reduce the amount of manual cleaning you need to do.

CIP is used for many different types of equipment, but obviously I’ll focus on canning and bottling systems here.

On a Wild Goose canning or Meheen bottling system, CIP involves flushing chemicals through the filling system, as well as manually cleaning other areas of the machine.

How does CIP relate to SIP?

Sanitize-in-place, or SIP, is different from CIP, but these processes do work together. The main difference between CIP and SIP is the chemical solution being used.

CIP cycles are very important because they pave the way for an effective SIP cycle. The goal of CIP is to physically remove the majority of what we call “soils” and buildup of residual product. Those soils can otherwise cause contamination and/or breakout during filling.

CIP can remove about 98% of contaminants, a very high efficacy. The process helps your next SIP phase be more effective.

SIP follows CIP and is intended to clean even further. For instance, the SIP stage helps get rid of things in the tubing like wild yeast, wild bacteria, and residual flavors from heavily fruited beers or natural flavored drinks. You don’t want any lingering contaminants to cause off-flavors or spoilage in your next beverage run.

SIP alone without CIP is not a good option. I’ll paint you a picture:

You went on a hike two weeks ago, and when you got home you put your muddy, smelly boots in the closet. Today you decide to clean your boots. You probably wouldn’t just spray on some antimicrobial soap and call it a day, right? You would first try to scrub off the old crusty dirt. This is how CIP and SIP work together: CIP is there to remove the dirt, and SIP is there to finish the sanitizing job.

Ultimately, it’s about reaching a sanitary stage for your equipment that won’t introduce contaminants into your product.

What materials do I need for CIP?

For a clean-in-place cycle, you need a means to prepare your chemical solution safely and then safely deliver it to the filling system. This could be via a dosing brink and a pump or with prepared kegs of the solution and a compressed gas to supply the solution to the system.

You also need the appropriate chemicals and protective gear, of course.

What are the steps in the CIP process?

On filling machines, the CIP cycle primarily addresses the filler head, tubing and manifold. Additional manual cleaning should also be performed for the other parts of the machine (more on that later).

  1. Step 1 is to make sure you’re using chemicals approved for your system. You should check with your chemical supplier and the manual for your Wild Goose system, or contact us to advise on the best options.
  2. Set up a pressure method to pump the chemicals through your machine: a pump, a keg filled with liquid that you push with gas (provided gas is compatible with your chemical), etc.
  3. Prepare the chemicals according to your chemical supplier and Wild Goose manual specifications. This would include considerations like proper dosage and temperature.
  4. Place a can or bottle (depending on type of filling system) under each fill head(s).
  5. Flush the chemical solution through your system, allowing for a minimum of 10 minutes of contact time.
  6. If soils are heavy, you may close the fill head for a chemical soak halfway through the CIP cycle for 5-10 minutes, then reopen the fill head to complete the cycle.
  7. Thoroughly rinse your system with potable water.

After CIP, most facilities complete a sanitize-in-place cycle as well. This sanitizing process should also touch any parts of your machine that might be in contact with product before the can or bottle is sealed.

  1. Run sanitizer through the system for a 10-minute SIP cycle.
  2. Spray sanitizer on other components and areas outside the fill heads that may contact product.
  3. Purge the remaining sanitizer out of your lines with product before your filling run.
  4. Start your fill cycle.

Beverage facilities usually use a non-rinse sanitizer for their SIP process. You will flush this sanitizer out with product before you run. As long as you follow the chemical manufacturer specifications, non-rinse sanitizer is safe for use in beverage operations.

CIP Clean in Place on a Wild Goose Canning LineWhy should I manually clean my filling machine after CIP?

CIP on a Wild Goose machine isn’t just limited to the closed filling system. You also want to manually clean around the fill heads, the upper part of the fill nozzle, seamer area, lid dropper area, infeed, etc.

Running cleaning chemicals through the fill heads during your CIP cycle acts on those contact parts, and only on those contact parts. However, during canning or bottling operations, product spray reaches other parts of the machine outside of the fill tubes, too. By manually cleaning those areas, you remove soils that have built up on parts of the machine not touched by the CIP cycle. This manual cleaning is crucial in getting the most out of the life of the parts of the unit.

Unlike CIP-ing a tank where chemicals might circulate thoroughly via a sprayball, more complex equipment has “blind spots” you should clean manually.

How does CIP actually work?

Picture a triangle: this triangle represents your effective CIP process. CIP cycles are based on a function of three things, so imagine these factors are the three corner points of your triangle:

  • Chemical energy: includes CIP liquid temperature and chemical concentration
  • Mechanical energy: the flow power of the chemical through the filling machine, or mechanical scrubbing (though it’s pretty hard to scrub the inside of a fill head)
  • Contact time: how long the chemical touches the equipment surfaces

If you stretch one of those corner points closer to or farther from the others, you still have a triangle shape, it just alters the angles. This is like the relationship between your three CIP factors. With CIP, you can change any of the factors by adjusting the others.

To give an example of how this relationship works, let’s talk temperature.

Wild Goose specifies a maximum CIP chemical temperature for your canning or bottling line. This temperature limit helps you run safer CIP cycles and get the most out of the machine component lifespans, which ultimately reduces how often you need replacement parts.

Wild Goose typically recommends a maximum CIP temperature of 158 °F (70 °C) unless your machine is equipped with the high-temp cleaning option. Your chemical supplier will tell you the optimal temperature range of your cleaning chemicals. Consider the temperature (chemical energy) parameters of the Wild Goose equipment and simply adjust your CIP “triangle” accordingly: mechanical energy* or contact time.

* I suppose you could run MORE chemical FASTER here to increase your mechanical energy, but it means you would also send more chemical down the drain, and this isn’t the economical option. Your best bet is usually to extend contact time a bit.

For extra cleaning power, you can run CIP for 5 minutes, close off the fill heads for 5-10 minutes, and then open the fill heads again to run 5 more minutes of CIP. This is a way to extend the contact time of the chemical in the machine.

What liquid temperature is effective for CIP?

Effective high-temperature CIP in the effort of “sanitizing by heat” goes back to Louis Pasteur (the father of modern brewers yeast). You want to hit a certain temperature for a certain amount of time to make sure you get rid of all the contaminants.

“High-temperature” sanitizing by definition requires a minimum of 165 °F (73.9 °C) for a minimum of 15 minutes. However, you can sanitize just as effectively at lower temperatures by adjusting your other CIP “triangle” variables.

While standard product fill tubing (the kind used on Wild Goose machines and other fillers) is rated for 165 °F (73.9 °C) temperatures, the pressure rating reduces as the temperature increases. Chemical supply pressure should not exceed 8 PSI (0.5 bar).

Something to note, here: There is a lower limit to effective high-temperature CIP around 150 °F (65.6 °C). When you drop below this temperature, contaminants can potentially survive through the high-temp CIP process, even if you use the appropriate contact time. You don’t want to dip below this temperature threshold. Also, keep in mind you are probably measuring your temperature going INTO the filling system, and your high-temp CIP liquid will cool a bit as it runs through the system. Err on the side of caution.

What chemicals should I use for CIP on my Wild Goose or Meheen system?

Wild Goose recommends non-caustic, non-chlorinated alkaline cleaners for effective CIP.

Caustic cleaners just aren’t needed for thorough CIP and they can create unnecessary safety risks. They can also shorten the lifespan of your equipment components. Non-caustic cleaners get the job done just as effectively – this is just part of your CIP “triangle” adjustment.

The Wild Goose operations manual for your system offers recommendations for non-caustic cleaners. Examples of chemicals that have been manufacturer-approved for use with Wild Goose machine components:

The Wild Goose manual also provides a list of machine component materials if you want to check compatibility with other chemical options. Contact the Wild Goose support team or your chemical supplier if you have any concerns.

Do you have chemical recommendations for SIP, too?

For SIP purposes, isopropanol is a great sanitizing option. You want to use a 70% concentration – higher concentrations are actually less effective for sanitizing. At higher concentrations, cells like bacteria or yeast sort of “close their borders” to the sanitizing chemical in those environments. The cells just ride it out, leaving you with contamination risk. So, 70% concentration is just right.

  • Peroxyacetic acid at 150-250 ppm
  • SaniClean
  • Star San
  • Iodophore

Don’t forget to SIP other contact surfaces on your machine, not just your fill heads. These areas include:

  • Lid chute (ensure the chute is dry before operation)
  • Under the DO Buster™ CO2 Hood if installed on your Wild Goose machine
  • CO₂ purge tube(s)

What precautions should I take during CIP?

CIP involves hot chemicals under pressure, so first and foremost, you should be thinking “safety first.”

  1. Wear personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes protective gear for your eyes, hands, body and feet.
  2. Know and abide by the recommended chemical types and temperatures for your equipment.
  3. Educate yourself on the hazards of the CIP chemicals you will be using.
  4. Understand your pump or pressure system.
  5. Pay attention to line pressures.
  6. Inspect your fill tubing and supply hoses for damage and make any necessary replacements before starting your CIP cycle.
  7. Before supplying chemicals to your Wild Goose machine, make sure both the ‘Enable CIP’ mode AND ‘Fill head open’ options are activated on the filler page for each fill head. These important safety settings prevent over-pressurization and failure of the fill tubing.
  8. When turning off the supply of chemical, the fill head should remain in the opened position.

If you are ever unsure of your CIP process or how to remove soil buildup, consult your Wild Goose system manual or contact the Wild Goose support crew.

Any other CIP best practices you recommend?

Write a CIP SOP! Having standard operating procedures for your clean-in-place process helps with safety, quality and efficiency. Ultimately, you want product to stay contaminant-free every time, and consistency is way easier when you have a standard process followed by everyone.


Alex Rabe, BrewerAbout Alex Rabe

Professional brewer. First Gosling power user. Packaging nerd. Before completing the UC Davis Master Brewers Certificate Program and earning his Diploma in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, Alex graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in genetics. In his eight-year brewing career prior to joining Wild Goose Filling, Alex worked with multiple Wild Goose systems and led expansions of both the machines and the breweries. Sharing is caring, so if you are looking for more information on the science and best practices for your Wild Goose processes, he is waiting for your call or email.


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