How To Clean Air Compressor Tank? Step by Step Guide

Using an air compressor for longer years requires periodic cleaning and maintenance. If you ignore it, you will face severe consequences, including tank corrosion, leaks, and rarely explosion. In most cases, the tanks look in good condition from the outside, but in reality, they gradually become rusty from the inside.

This happens due to water vapours that collect in the tank when the pump sucks air from the surrounding. The water in the air starts collecting in the tank; if you don’t drain it regularly, it destroys the tank from the inside.

Corrosion of tanks is the same as poison for humans, so we need to clean the tank after some duration to prevent rust. Let’s learn some helpful ways how you can wipe out dust and rust from the tank to keep it healthy.

5 DIY steps for cleaning air compressor tank

Step 1: Check Tank’s Health

First, you need to check the tank’s health if there is some air leakage or parts damage not in good condition. To check the air leakage, you can run a hydro test with the help of a pressure washer. For hydro-testing, follow the simple steps:

  • Pressure washers can produce a minimum of 2000psi, so be careful and lower the pressure to 100 – 150 psi to avoid any issues.
  • Connect the pressure washer hose with the valve that is connected to the tank.
  • Turn on the pressure washer, and note the pressure inside the tank through guage.
  • If there is any leak in your compressor tank, water starts coming out from that part, and you can fix the leak to use the device again.
  • If you don’t find any leak and the pressure reaches cut out, then turn off the pressure washer.
  • Drain the tank to put out all the water and follow the next step.

Step 2: Shut down Air Compressor& remove the power source

When you fix the tank leakage, shut down the air compressor. Also, remove the power wire from the wall outlet to prevent misadventure. This way, you can do safe cleaning without getting any harm.

Step 3: Don’t forget to release the tank pressure

Before fixation or cleaning, always empty the tank and release all the pressure. Because when there is high pressure in the tank and if you start removing any valve, it may accidentally hit you. So, must release the pressure before any replacement.

Step 4: Find the drain valve

The drain valve helps release all the water and air from the compressor tank. Finding the drain valve is not difficult; it is available at the bottom of every compressor tank. Some units have a drain valve on the side; if you cannot locate the valve, you can read the owner’s manual, where you will easily find the location.

Now, open the valve that will help to let the moisture and pressure out.

Also Read:

Step 5: Clean dust/sludge

When you haven’t cleaned the compressor for a long time, a ton of dust or sludge must be collected inside the tank. You have to clean it, and follow the DIY steps to clean the inner side of the tank.

  • Unscrew a valve that is connected to the tank to get an opening. The opening will help us to attach a pressure washer, and we can add water to it.
  • Use a pressure washer to throw out the muddy material outside, or use a combo of water and baking soda. When you add that combination, leave it for a time and keep shaking.
  • It will clean the tank’s maximum amount of oil, sludge, and dirt.

When cleaning is done, you must close the drain valve to fill the pressure again. You can repeat this procedure every 3rd to 6th month; that will keep the tank healthy and increase compressor life.

Why do air compressor tanks get dirty?

There are multiple reasons why compressor tanks get dirty. Let’s know in detail:

Dirty Environment:

The dirty environment is one of the biggest reasons why the compressor tanks get dust quickly. Most people have placed their units in factories or areas where there is too much dust. As you know, the air filter is installed in the compressor to clean the air. When there is excessive dirt outside, the filter starts failing and sends dust into the tank.

To prevent this, you have to keep the unit in a clean place that gets less dust.

Oil leakage:

In some cases, we observe that the oil filters of the air compressor are in good condition, but the tank is dirty, and the unit’s performance is still reduced. The main reason is oil leakage from the compressor, which mixes up with the pressurized air and gets into the tank, making it dirty.

We have discussed above how you can clean the oil from the compressor tank.


If you want to use a compressor for a long time, you must properly maintain it. Ignoring the scheduled maintenance reduces the tool’s working ability, and the unit gets dirty and creates many other issues. So, take care of your device and keep servicing it to get consistent good performance.


How to clean Air Compressor Check Valves?

For cleaning air compressor check valves, you need a combination wrench. Now with the help of a wrench, open the check valves, then clean it with a towel. After cleaning, you can put some lubricant oil on check valves as it will prevent damage and allow it to work smoothly.

How to clean the rust out of an air compressor tank?

This is the most crucial step in cleaning the tank. You can use the feasible methods to kick out the rust, but here we will use the electrolysis method. This method is safe and removes a single particle of rust from the tank. Follow the steps:

Required Material:

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Battery charger or 12v power supply
  • Insulated gloves
  • Safety goggles

Let’s start the electrolysis process when you get everything on the table.

  • Wear safety gloves, turn off the compressor and remove the pressure.
  • Remove that valve from the top that can easily allow you to add a piece of rod or the adapter clips into the tank.
  • Add the water into the tank alongwith some baking soda.
  • Connect the positive charger terminal below the tank where the drain valve is available.
  • You can put an iron rod into the tank to connect the negative terminal. Make sure both positive and negative points don’t meet each other.
  • Turn on the charger and leave it for a night. The next day, you will notice a thick layer of rust coming out.
  • Turn off the charger and remove all the clips from the tank.
  • Now, open the drain valve and release the water. You will see muddy-type water coming out.
  • After that, you can use a pressure washer to clean the inner side. That’s it!

Final Words

According to a survey, those folks who properly clean their air compressors use them for long years. As cleaning is essential for humans to keep them healthy, we must care for our tools properly. If you find this guide helpful, share it with your friends.

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