Cleaning Tips for Shipping Container Interiors

Now that you have bought your first used shipping container, it’s time to clean it! Cleaning the interior is a good idea so that you can be assured it’s up to your specifications. Dirt, debris, contaminants or pollutants can be lurking inside, which is common after transport. Even if the container was sitting idle for a while, you’ll still need to do a bit of maintenance or even small repairs to ensure it’s in usable condition. This is especially true if you’ll be using it as a mobile office or anywhere else you’ll be spending a lot of time in and need to furnish.

But just keep in mind that rust can occur no matter what precautions you take. Corrosion can lead to holes in your container over time so be careful to check for signs of rust every once in a while and make necessary patches.

Check out these interior shipping container cleaning tips to make your job easier.

  • Sweep the interior: The first step is to get out your broom and sweep up all the loose particles. Obviously, if there are items in the container, you’ll have to remove those first. Wear a mask and goggles while dusting to keep debris out of your mouth and eyes.
  • Give it a good wash: Wash off all stains, sticky substances, and sources of foul odors with simple water and soap (mild detergent will do). Another idea is to blast the interior of the container with dry ice. This saves you from having to use water, and it clears chemicals just as well. Weather will dictate whether you go this route, as some chemicals may interact negatively with the environment. Start with the roof, then work your way down to the floors. It’s even possible to use a soft wash pressure washer for the job, but eye protection is vital in such a confined space.
  • Remove rust: Be on the lookout for dents or holes due to rust and repair them right away so they don’t get worse. As unchecked rust holes grow larger, more water can infiltrate. Treat small rust spots with white vinegar and a wire brush. Paint the area to match the rest of the interior. For larger holes, you will have to have a piece of steel welded over it, or you could have it glued using a heavy-duty sealant. Continue your inspection for rust on the outside as well. Then, go inside the container and shut all doors and windows if there are any. Do you see any daylight through any areas that are not vents? If you container was shipped via ocean transport, it’s at a higher risk of oxide film development due to the salt water and humidity.
  • Look for other substances: Do you spot any sap, sticky substances, insects or pollen? These may be tough to clean with traditional solutions and water. You may have to use a razor blade to get off anything that is sticking to the surface. Do you notice any water seepages? Keep in mind, if your container will be headed through U.S. Customs, it could be rejected due to the presence of liquids, bugs or seeds.

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