Cleaning tank-truck trailers is not easy
The 40 to 50-foot boxes are quite intimidating for those who may be holding nothing more than a brush and pressure washer gun and looking at a soap bucket.
The hardest thing to do is to clean the back doors of trailers because they get really greasy from all the debris and stuff the truck has driven through. When they run through bad weather areas, they get even dirtier. Maintenance workers should pay special attention to rear doors on trailers. Sometimes they need to be brushed twice. Workers may even have to do them three times until they are completely clean.
Washers should use a harsh soap or degreaser and watch for left-over dirt around the tubular bars that act as the door locks and sealing mechanism. On the top of the sides of the trailer there usually is a lot of soot if the tractor has been leaking or has a small oil leak or an exhaust problem. This leaves this big exhaust stain down the side of the trailer from the exhaust stack on the tractor. This is a problem because it is hard to clean.
So sometimes workers will have to stand on top of the tractor and brush downward. This is done because it is difficult to get enough leverage from the ground. Workers may need to pour cleaner directly on their brush or they may need to put cleaner directly on the sides of the trailer. They may need to do both.
Cleaners should make sure the brush is really wet and then set the nozzle on the spray bottle for a steady stream. Spray with the wind and shoot the spray up to the top of the trailer and saturate it. Then brush it. Now it should be able to come clean. It is important to rinse really well; otherwise there will be soap streaks running down the sides. These will be black soap streaks because they will have some of the exhaust mixed in with the soap.
Some of the tractors have ThermoKing units on the front. These are the refrigeration units that keep the trailers cool inside. They always leak oil, so washers have to make sure they get all of the oil off. Another thing they will find on tractors – and an area they want to stay away from because it is greasy – is where the tractor hooks onto the trailer. The front of the trailer at the very bottom will have a lot of grease sitting there. It is not necessary for washers to take that off. That grease is there from the tractor where it hooks on and it is there to make sure that there is no metal fatigue and failure due to high friction.
Washers will find some excess grease that will be on and around that area and may may want to clean it. But workers should not clean the area from three inches to the bottom of the trailer in the front. They should only clean down to the three-inch level because that grease is there for a reason. Cleaning it off is not going to really help anything. It is just going to be back again the next time the trailer is hooked to another tractor. If workers clean all the grease off then it may have to be re-greased.
Cleaning Box Trailers Interiors
When cleaning the inside of a trailer, often called a “washout,’’ workers will get about $10 to $15. That is the going rate for blasting the inside of the 40 or 50-foot trailers. On the forty-foot trailers there often are deep groves, which allow water from melting ice and things like that to run to the front or rear of the trailer and drain, keeping it away from the load.
On a washout job, workers want to blast all these grooves and clean out all the debris inside them. Cleaners may find chips of wood, slivers that are resting within these grooves. They need to be taken out. They may have to be picked out with the fingers, or blown out with an air blower.
Cleaners may use one of those broken pieces of pallet wood to poke out the holes in the very front of the trailer in both corners. They are drainage holes so if the truck is resting downward on an angle, cleaners have to spray from the back of the trailer down to the front. Sometimes a worker can use the tongue crank and crank up the front of the trailer so the water will run out the back. That will cause a big pool of water in the trailer if you work back to front, especially if the drain holes get clogged. When spraying inside toward the front of the trailer, workers have to make sure these holes are clean because when spraying the last three feet it may be necessary to blast toward the back open end, not forward against the wall.
Otherwise a worker is going to get himself wet. He or she should spray at an angle. If they are trying to spray straight down, as soon as the water hits the grooves it is going to come straight back at them.
By law, when truckers go to pick up produce or any food product they are suppose to have their trailers steamed out because of the health and cleanliness statutes. Operators do not want any dirt or debris from whatever they have been hauling to contaminate what they will haul next.
Truckers from the East Coast might bring chickens to the West Coast. There is chicken blood all within those grooves and it needs to be hot water steam cleaned when you clean them out because they will probably take produce back to the East Coast. The trucks are going both ways. They may be driving strawberries back east, then bringing chicken to the West Coast and then take celery back again or avocados or other produce.
It is very important to clean these trailers out very well to prevent the spread of bacteria and disease.