Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

1009 PD: Here’s the dish on CIP detergents

Ron Robinson Published on 29 June 2009

What happens when you combine a perishable food with the potential proliferation of harmful microorganisms?

On any dairy operation, there’s no positive outcome for this situation unless you choose a cleaner designed to work with your clean-in-place (CIP) system. Proper detergent selection and use play a critical role in maximizing milk quality, prolonging the life of plastic and rubber goods and saving money.

Is your detergent designed to work with your CIP system? It should provide a thorough and uniform wash, customized for your dairy and water characteristics.



Selecting the right detergent
There are a lot of factors that go into selecting the right detergent. Many producers use chlorinated-alkaline detergents to penetrate soils, such as milk fat and protein. Chlorine removes protein, while sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide (alkaline compounds) remove fat. However, it’s not that simple.

To be effective, detergents need the recommended wash water temperature throughout the wash cycle. For many detergents, water at the end of the cycle must be a minimum of 120°F; on most farms that means starting temperatures must be approximately 160°F. While there are low-temperature formulations available, any cleaning agent becomes more effective as temperatures rise and water hardness decreases.

Other factors that affect a detergent’s effectiveness include iron content, soil type, soil load and size and type of equipment.

Using the right mix
Generally, there are two ways to clean a milking system: shock the system or the right way.

1. Shocking the system is not recommended. Any time a pipeline wash solution exceeds the recommendations for alkalinity and chlorine, a producer is “shocking the system.” This treatment damages rubber goods, breaks down plastic parts, increases groundwater contamination, endangers safety and wastes money.


Rubber goods consist of inflations, gaskets, O-rings and hoses. While all these parts play a crucial role, damage to an inflation can be most costly. As an inflation wears out, somatic cell counts rise as teat ends are damaged, and cows milk out slower.

Plastic parts found in a parlor include claws, meters, elbows, tees, some milk hoses and milk wash plugs. Possible problems caused to plastic parts include premature cracking, reduced life, discoloration and damaged interior surfaces. Replacing plastic parts prematurely will have a direct impact on the dairy’s profitability.

2. The right way … There’s a better way to clean than shocking the system. Table 1 on page 50 outlines the cleaning guidelines we recommend.

The levels of alkalinity found in Table 1 are based on measurements of active alkalinity (as sodium hydroxide) from liquid detergents. If powdered detergents are used, the measurements will not be accurate. In this case, producers should use the detergent’s dilution chart to determine whether the correct amount of detergent has been added. Following these guidelines will result in better, faster and safer cleaning, plus less system damage.

Visual inspection
Producers should visually inspect their milking and storage equipment monthly for damage, buildup or residual film. All are signs of cleaning failures. Residual films are either organic (such as protein and fat) or inorganic (such as iron, hard water minerals or silica) in nature. In general, organic films are alkaline- soluble, while inorganic films are typically acid-soluble. Some films have a distinct appearance, which can help pinpoint the cause of the cleaning failure.

Here are a few things to look for:


• When wet, protein films may look like brown applesauce. These films are degraded by chlorine.

• Mineral films often feel and look rough; however, you can only detect them when dry.

• Layered build-ups often have the appearance of cheese and can be either hard or soft to the touch.

• Fatty acid build-up often appears clear in color and is greasy to the touch.

• Dry cow treatments often appear white in appearance and are greasy to the touch. If you see any of these signs, contact your equipment service technician and chemical company representative immediately.

Preventive tools
Depending on your dairy’s needs, it is critical that your chemical provider complete a thorough chemical survey every six months. This survey should include your alkalinity and chlorine levels of both the pipeline and bulk tank(s). It also should include the pH of the acid phase. Depending on your sanitizer type, it will indicate ppm if it is chlorine-based or pH if it is acid-based.

Preventive tools, monthly inspections and selecting and using the right detergent are all important to your cleaning success. Take time to ensure that your CIP system is performing at its best. Milk quality, your plastic and rubber parts, and your bottom line will benefit in the long run. PD

Ron Robinson
Vice President
Business Development A&L Laboratories

Want to know how well your CIP system is doing? Submit a photo of your CIP challenges or a question to Progressive Dairyman. In future issues, A&L Laboratories experts will comment on the photos or questions. Dairy names and locations will not be connected with photos, so your review will be completely anonymous. Send your photos and questions to

Why is there sand in my receiver jar?
Here’s a photograph of a glass receiver jar with a CIP challenge. While glass receiver jars are rarely found in new installations, it allows us the opportunity to view a typical cleaning challenge.

In this photo, we see layers of fat and mineral buildup, in addition to silicate sand in the water. The silicate sand is etching the glass (whitish film) and creating a rough surface for buildup to occur. The silicate sand is dissolved in the water. When the pH drops below 5, the silicate comes out of solution and deposits on the receiver.

To minimize this process, this producer should modify the acid wash cycle (use less acid) to achieve a minimum pH of 5. (Using more acid lowers pH levels.) Also, a properly sized water conditioning system helps minimize silicate.

Ron Robinson for Progressive Dairyman