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How to Clean a Shipping Container

08.02.2016 - Posted by Updated On 08.02.2016    

Shipping and storage containers, like any other type of outbuilding, require some periodic maintenance to keep them in top operational condition. On an annual basis it’s normally just a few minutes a year, but it’s best not to take your container for granted and neglect it to nature and environmental pressures. With just a few short minutes of work you can ensure that your shipping/storage container is in top condition and will last another year while protecting your stored items. The key points to focus on are the doors, floors, walls, and any potential rust.

Grease the Doors

The doors on a shipping container are key to the basic functionality of the unit. If kept operating smoothly, your storage container will last a life time. Come this spring it’s a good idea to give the doors a fresh layer of grease or lubricant to help prevent rust and keep the hinges swinging smoothly. Keep in mind if the doors don’t swing smoothly, it could be a sign that the container isn’t sitting level and other problems could be in play, all problems that expedite corrosion. Make sure that since the time the container was last inspected that it’s sitting level, if not be sure to put some new shims in place to make sure the container is even.

Check the Floor

If you walk around the inside of a shipping container the floor should be firm, with little give in the flooring. Soft spots in the floor can be early signs of rotten wood and should be cut out and repaired/replaced. Repairs can be made with new pieces of plywood or sections of aluminum or steel. Make sure to match the floor joists and seams to give the maximum strength to the new section of flooring.

Close the Doors

Rust and corrosion can occur slowly in a shipping container, and it occurs slowly over extended periods of time. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to prevent it, but once it takes hold rust can cause many problems in your shipping container. The easiest way to check for rust is to go inside the container, close the doors, and look around the inside. Ideally, when inside the container you’ll see no light coming in from the outside. There may be a little bit of light around the breather vents, but once the doors are closed start at the front the container (away from the doors) and walk down each side of the container looking at the top rail on each side, then the bottom rail on each side. If you see any daylight coming through the container, that’s a potential rust point that needs to be cleaned and repaired.

Walk Around

Cleaning the dust and built up dirt on the outside of your container doesn’t require much effort. In the Spring time it’s best to take a quick walk around Rust, dents and dings. 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 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.

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. is an online marketplace for new and used shipping containers. Shipping lines and container lessors from around the world dispose of off hire and off lease containers throughout the United States and around the World. To purchase any a shipping container click on any active listing and feel free to ask any questions to the sellers.

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