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How to Clean a Shipping Container

16.03.2014 - Posted by Updated On 16.03.2014    

Spring cleaning season is quickly coming upon us, and that makes it a great time to give your shipping or storage container a quick clean and make any repairs or general maintenance that may be needed. Like most things, an annual cleaning maintenance will extend the life of your shipping container by keeping it in top condition.

We've written previously about cleaning a shipping container, and painting a container, and today we're going to review some of the previous items, and touch on some new ideas.

Sweeping Up: If you're able to move everything out of your container to sweep it, great. However, I'm guessing that it's possible, or more likely that it's just not a realistic request. At the very least, you'll want to sweep any dust and dirt out of the container. It will help to clean things up, but more importantly it will expose any signs of unwanted wear or corrosion. You could even use a leaf blower, but that could be noisy and very dusty.

Washing Down: To wash the outside of the shipping container you'll want to use a garden hose or pressure washer, and clean starting from the top and working your way down. While cleaning the container you'll want to look for any flaking paint or small rust spots that may become exposed during the process. Periodically check the inside of the container for any new water that may have been sprayed inside of the container; it may be a sign of a small hole or rust area that needs attention.

Rust Removal and Hole Patching: If you've found any rust or corrosion you'll want to address it as soon as possible. If left unmanaged it could potentially grow into a larger hole and become more difficult to repair.

  • Repairing Small Holes: If you've found a small hole, and by small we'll range from a pin hole to the size of an American quarter, the repair is relatively simple. You'll want to remove as much of the affected area as possible by using a wire brush, white vinegar, and/or some rust neutralizer. Once the area is cleaned you can patch the area with a roofing sealant such as Kool Seal.
shipping container rust
  • Repairing Large Holes: If you find a large hole, large enough to fit your hand through, the best way to correct the problem is to cut out the rusted area and weld a new piece of steel over the hole. However, if you don't have access to welding equipment this may not be solution. Alternatively, you can clean the entire area, cutting away as much of the rust as possible, and cut a piece of steel large enough to cover the area with a 3-4 additional inches on each side. Once you have the steel you'll need to use an industrial sealant, such as Liquid Nails, and glue the piece of steel over the repaired area. Once the sealant dries you'll want to revisit the patch and make sure the entire area is covered and no moisture can sneak into the container.

If you have any questions about cleaning and repairing a shipping container, or just general questions about shipping containers, feel free to contact any of the sellers on our site, or directly. We work directly with shipping lines and container resellers throughout the United States and around the world and are always willing to provide input or share our experiences to make your project successful.

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