How to Clean the Interior of a Shipping Container

After you have purchased a shipping container and before you use it, it’s wise to clean out the interior. Especially if it’s used, cleaning the container will remove dirt, debris and any contaminants or pollutants it may have come in contact with during transport. Even when sitting idle, you still need to perform at least a little bit of maintenance and/or repairs to ensure it’s in usable condition.

Another thing to think about: rust may make its way through even when you take all precautions. But while cleaning a shipping container appears to be a daunting task at first glance, these tips will help make the job easier.

  • Sweep it out: The first and the easiest step is sweeping out the interior to remove dust and dirt particles. Empty out the box and start with the interior first. Don’t forget to wear a dust mask when sweeping.
  • Wash it: Wash off any sticky substances, stains and foul odor with water and soap. You can even blast the inside of the box with dry ice, which clears chemicals and saves on water. Whether you opt for this or not will depend on the weather, as some chemicals can interact with the environment. When washing the exterior of the container, start with the roof. You may want to use a pressure washer for this job, but be sure to use eye protection.
  • Remove rust: Check for dents or holes that require extra attention and repair them immediately. Those areas will only get worse. Left unattended, they will grow larger and allow water to infiltrate. Small rust spots can be treated with a wire brush and vinegar. Paint the affected area afterwards. Larger holes will entail a piece of steel to be welded over the area, or glued with a heavy duty sealant. Identify any other areas of rust by doing a thorough inspection inside and out. If, when the container is closed, you can still see daylight in areas other than vents, these areas will need to be addressed promptly. Shipping containers that have been transported via ocean have a higher risk of developing an oxide film and rust because of the salt water and humidity.
  • Inspect for other substances: Check for any unwanted elements such as sap, sticky substances, pollen, and insects. Be on the lookout for water seepages too. If your container is going through U.S. Customs, they may reject any containers contaminated by liquids, seeds and bugs.

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