Tubing that is removed annually can be washed in place before removal or after it is removed from the woods.
Using this reel-type tubing washer, coils of tubing are place in a spool and slowly rotated in a tank of cleaning solution. Open spouts, tees and tubing ends pick up the solution, and the constant rotation moves the solution through the lines. The solution is removed by rotating the spool out of the cleaning solution. This process may take 30 minutes or more for each step. A practical maximum size for the roll or tubing is around 50 taps. This allows the solution to move freely through the roll and is easily maneuverable by the operator.
Producers with larger operations may prefer to allow the tubing to remain in place during the off-season. Permanent installations require a method of pumping a cleaning solution through the system. This can be accomplished with a pump and tank. A state of the art unit, such as an air injection pump, which uses air pressure with a cleaning liquid, is well suited where liquid must be pumped over long distances or up steep hillsides.
Nearly all producers leave mainlines in place permanently and pump cleaning solution through them. One should either pump clean water through the mainlines after using a cleaning solution or allow sap to flush out the cleaning fluid at the beginning of the next sap season. After cleaning mainlines, open ends of the pipe should be sealed with tape or a fine screen. This reduced the risk of nest-building insects or rodents contaminating and plugging the pipe during the off-season.
A common cleaning solution used in the tube washing device and pressure washing system is a chlorine solution. By mixing 1 part unscented chlorine bleach with 20 parts clean water, you can effectively sanitize the tubing system. A triple rinse with clean water is recommended to remove any residue from the cleaning solution. It is suggested that the chlorine salt residue attracts rodents that ultimately will chew on the tubing. For this reason, producers have used an alternative cleaning solution that does not contain sodium, or simply water alone. In any case, never use a household detergent or any other soap to clean maple tubing or any other equipment used in the maple operation. Soaps cannot be completely rinsed away and will destroy the maple flavor and aroma of syrup.