How can I clean the inside of plastic hose which I use for liquids like milk, juice and other. How can I remove the residue after usage. In some cases if the hose was not immediately cleaned then the residue has dried and become more difficult to clean.

The hose type is similar to the one on the picture:

plastic hose

  • How thick / thin is this?
    – Stephie
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 13:10
  • For shorter pieces: lifehacks.stackexchange.com/questions/6303/…
    – Stephie
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 17:02
  • Might this be a duplicate of the one @Stephie just mentioned? Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 17:05
  • 1
    @Sue the other one is about drinking straws - limited length, less than a foot. This question could apply for example to those backpack-like drinking systems, so most answers in the other question "fall short".
    – Stephie
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 17:07
  • @Stephie Now I get it! Thanks for the clarification! Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 17:09

5 Answers 5


Assuming a rather thin diameter like the hoses used for milk on espresso machines or camelbak drinking systems:

I'd go for a pipe cleaner - they come in different thicknesses and are quite flexible..

They will probably be too short for the total length, so get some thread - more than twice the hose length in total, cut in half.

Bend the pipe cleaner back and twist on both ends, forming a loop and making sure the wire end can't scratch the inside of the hose. Tie one length of thread to each loop on the ends. Use the threads to pull the pipe cleaner (soaked with detergent) back and forth through the hose. Rinse well.

A very small but heavy weight (e.g. small fishing lead) clamped to the end of one string can make threading the thread through the hose a lot easier: just let it "fall" through.

For thicker hoses, use the same principle, but use either a piece of a bottle brush or a piece of knotted fabric (with matching diameter) as the scrubbing part.

  • Excellent embedded life hack about the small but heavy weight to thread the string through!!! Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 17:42
  • An air-rifle cleaning rod would work in a similar way to a pipe-cleaner but is longer.
    – Dave
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 15:37
  • Make sure there isn't any wire from the pipe-cleaner exposed! You don't want to scratch the inside. That will damage it and make it harder to clean later. Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 2:05
  • @Carcigenicate, thanks. I included this detail in my answer just to be sure.
    – Stephie
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 7:22
  • 1
    Great answer but I would add that it's not advisable to use lead on anything that's used for foodstuffs. Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 9:09

I clean my hydration backpack by removing the mouth piece and rinsing it with hot water, letting it cool, then throwing it in the freezer. Once everything is frozen solid, I'll rinse it again in cool water.

I only use my pack for water, so one cycle usually does the trick, but if there was anything else in the hose, more hot water to free it up/penetrate followed by a freezer cycle should break up most contaminants.

  • What does the freezing do?
    – Stephie
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 10:50
  • 1
    @Stephie kills bacteria and solidifies any gunk. Once it's frozen you can flex the hose and all the crud will break apart and rinse away. . Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 15:43
  • From what I learned over at Seasoned Advice I seriously doubt the "kills bacteria" claim.
    – Stephie
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 15:45
  • 1
    @Stephie You are correct! I was mistaken, freezing will render the bacteria inactive, and make it easier to rinse out. I figured it did the job because I'll stick the pack in the freezer stinky, and it will come out smelling fresh as a spring dais... well, rubber bladder. Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 17:35

For shorter lengths you could use a gun bore cleaning kit- probably suitable down to about 3/8" OD and about 1' if you come in from both sides. There may be even smaller caliber ones for pellet guns, but 0.22 (5.5mm) is very common.

I have a tube like this on my cappuccino maker, and I just pull it off and run water through it after every use. A bit of a hassle but there does not seem to be any residue when it's cleaned like that.

You can also sterilize silicone tubing by running it through the dishwasher - it may not remove the residue but any bacteria should be neutralized. PVC tubing might be damaged by the drying heat, however.


Take a wire from a coat hanger and straighten it out with a plier, it's about 3 feet, if you need longer link 2 wires together. At one end clip a makeup pad or a pipe cleaner, secure it with the plier. Squirt some dishwashing detergent in the hose and run the wire thru the hose with twirling motion and back forth a couple times. Rinse the hose and you're done. Save the wire for next time... :-)


Use a very soft cloth (cotton). Attach a ball bearing to the cloth and run it through the hose. It will clean it.

  • 3
    "A ball bearing of cloth"?
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 8:52
  • 1
    While this answer has potential to be a good answer, it needs some more explanation. Perhaps a picture would help get your point across more clearly.
    – michaelpri
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 23:13

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