Clean-in-Place (CIP) Systems Guide

CIP HeaterCaustic fluids, sediment buildup, and corrosion can wreak havoc on industrial equipment from the inside out. The inside surfaces of tanks/vessels, filters, and pipes are especially susceptible. While the exterior surfaces are easy to clean, these present a more significant challenge. Disassembling and removing parts for cleaning is time-consuming and stops production.

Clean-in-place (CIP) systems resolve this challenge. A CIP system pumps cleaning solutions and forces flow through the system, cleaning the piping, filters, and tanks without any disassembly. That means a quick return to production, with a quick and easy process.

CIP cycles vary depending on the unique elements of each project. Settings change depending on size, materials, uses, and how much cleaning is required. For instance, a caustic wash solution used to remove fats from surfaces can have a pH concentration ranging from 0.5% to 4%, depending on the degree of soiling.

Even still, the fundamental steps of a CIP cleaning cycle are consistent.

Anatomy of a Clean-in-Place Cleaning Cycle

The basic elements include rinses, a pre-rinse, a caustic wash, and a sanitizing rinse. The rinse sequence can change, but the process consistently begins with a pre-rinse and ends with the sanitizing rinse.

Heater Oil FlushingThe initial pre-rinse phase sets the stage for the rest of the cleaning process. Like oil flushing in circulation heater systems, this process pumps high-velocity fluid through the piping. The turbulent flow breaks down and dissolves contaminants, removing sediment and residue from the sides and bottom. 

Typically, this is followed by a caustic wash cycle. This is where the heavy cleaning is performed. A high pH solution is created and heated using a circulation heater. The solution is then pumped through the system, further breaking down and removing contaminants.

More rinse cycles follow, using water to remove remaining cleaning agents leftover from the caustic cycle. Often, this includes both an intermediary and final rinse cycle. After which, a sanitizing rinse, typically bleach or peracetic acid, is used to remove microorganisms and prevent bacterial growth in the system.

CIP Applications

Up until the mid 20th Century, cleaning a closed system meant removing and taking it apart. The process takes a lot of time and labor while risking safety hazards. The creation of clean-in-place systems alleviated this challenge. So it has potential benefits for any closed system. However, where it really shines is in industries that prioritize hygiene in processes and manufacturing:



In a closed system, clean-in-place heaters offer a superior method for maintaining equipment efficiency, lifespan, and ensuring product quality. Here we explore the most influential benefits of CIP heaters and systems.

Ease of Maintenance

The immediate benefit of clean-in-place systems is their ease of use. They provide easy access for cleaning with no disassembly or removal necessary. In addition to avoiding the time-consuming ad labor-intensive process of disassembly, the process is also very quick.

Easy access and a quick clean means less production time is lost. So your maintenance has minimal impact on operational output.


Electric heaters and CIP systems run using digital control panels. Automated controllers increase accuracy by removing the risk of human error. As well, they ensure lower operating costs and are more efficient.


The CIP process is highly repeatable. Thus, the cleaning delivers consistent results and quality while providing more sustainable operations. As well, the automated process reduces water and energy consumption, lowering overall costs and waste. Taking advantage of electric CIP heaters for the caustic wash step further increases efficiency and decreases waste.


Keeping the closed system closed and using an automated control panel to run the wash minimizes human exposure to chemicals. As a result, the safety of operators and personnel dramatically improves.

CIP Heaters

Wattco custom manufactures electric clean-in-place heaters for all major industries. Our team of experts works with your project’s specific needs and budget to select and design the ideal heater. 

Contact Wattco today for CIP heater quotes and information.