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How to clean an IBC (Tote) Safely

There are many reasons to want or need to clean an IBC or Tote. It may be that you are a company who uses Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC’s) also known as Totes for transporting raw ingredients, chemicals or liquids.

Top Tips for Safe DIY IBC Cleaning:

  • Check any product labels attached
  • Ask questions as to the last use of the IBC
  • If hazardous, do not take ownership or handle the IBC
  • Assume the worst – If no labels are present or there is no available data regarding the last product – refuse the IBC or refer to a commercial cleaning station

Companies who use IBC’s will often require periodic cleaning to ensure no cross contamination of product or the IBC’s are safe for disposal. In some cases the IBC’s will require periodic testing and inspections to ensure they are fit for use. Companies who handle IBC’s will be aware of the legal requirements of IBC fleet management.

There are obvious differences in the clean required for a DIY enthusiast and a company who uses IBC’s. To effectively clean an IBC for reuse, particularly in the IBC fleet hire market, you would require a professional IBC clean which is recorded and traceable.

The DIY enthusiast may find a cold water rinse with the garden hose is all that is necessary. It all depends on the last product and the use for which the IBC is intended.

Why is the last product important?

IBC’s are widely used to carry hazardous products and IBC’s acquired for DIY use are often found in a ‘casual’ way. This creates potential risk of harm to the environment and human life.

Only IBC’s which can be positively identified as non hazardous should be cleaned by individuals. If no labels exist and there is no available data on the last product – you should assume that the last product is hazardous and ensure a professional clean is performed.

It is important that you know what the IBC last contained. Labels may be attached to the IBC, however this may not reflect the product it LAST contained as it may have been used many times since by different people, although these labels will give you some indication as to a product it ONCE contained.

Hazardous product is just that; hazardous, and so care must be taken when an IBC has hazardous labels attached.

hazchem-labels

The following signs indicate the IBC once carried a hazardous product. If your IBC or Tote has labels which contain these signs, please do not handle or take ownership.

ibc-hazard-labels

To transport empty dirty IBC’s with a known hazardous product requires an ADR license so you may also be liable for the costs of transport, cleaning and disposal.

IMPORTANT – If no labels exist or there is no available data regarding the last product, you should ensure the IBC is cleaned by a commercial IBC cleaning Station.

So what is a Professional IBC Clean?

A professional IBC clean is performed by skilled operators, who understand hazardous chemicals and have the safety procedures, equipment and infrastructure in place to handle them.

Using high pressure water via omni-directional spinner heads and powerful pump sets, the IBC has every inch of its surface area cleaned with high pressure water. Where the last product is resistant to water, post wash preparation is performed while a chemical can be added to the wash water to assist product breakdown. The chemical and physical clean combined ensures the IBC is cleaned properly.

Along side this, the waste water is processed ready for clean water discharge or contained for lawful disposal. This is important when cleaning hazardous materials. IBC cleaning companies are bound by environmental and company law including Health & Safety Legislation which ensures a safe Cleaning process and environmentally friendly disposal of hazardous wastes.

A professional IBC Cleaning company will issue a Cleaning Document such as the European Cleaning Document (ECD) to evidence your IBC has been cleaned and poses no environmental or hazardous threats – effectively recording the IBC has been cleaned professionally.

Please contact us if you wish to learn more about our commercial IBC cleaning sales, hire and cleaning services we offer.

Ultra High Pressure IBC Cleaning

Fleetclean have been experimenting with Ultra High Pressure Cleaning (UHP) and the results are incredible. The experiment was performed to understand the effect Ultra High Pressure Cleaning would have on a stainless steel IBC and if any damage would be caused to the IBC structure and ancillaries.

We found that the UHP cleaning removed all of the stubborn stains and product from the IBC but did not effect the integrity of the IBC and its ancillary parts.

UHP-cleaning-of-IBC

If you would like to discuss how Ultra High Pressure (UHP) cleaning could help you clean your IBC’s then please contact Fleetclean on 01977 607087.

IBC Recirculation Cleaning System

IBC-recirculation-unit

Fleetcleans technical engineering team built this custom recirculation IBC Cleaning System to combat stubborn and difficult to clean products.

  • Increased Cleaning Capabilities
  • Reduced Effluent Processing
  • Improved Customer Service Levels

Stubborn or difficult to clean products can take hours to clean using the high pressure total loss system we use for all our IBC and Tanker washes. The main issue being the additives required to bite into the product are not in sufficient dilution rates and are often expensive. A total loss system wastes much of these additives.

As this system recirculates the residues after filtration, the benefits are the water used can have more concentrated dilution levels of additives. These additives break down the product and provide a more aggressive clean – perfect for the more stubborn products.

This recirculation cleaning system has increased our cleaning capabilities and improved service levels of our IBC cleaning business. Initial trials have reduced cleaning times by up to 75%.

If you require a system like this or something similar Fleetclean can build one to your custom specifications.

How to clean an IBC using high pressure cleaning heads

High pressure cleaning heads are the equipment of choice when it comes to commercial cleaning of IBC’s. Cleaning heads, often referred to as spinners because of their cleaning action, are used widely throughout the tanker and IBC (Tote) cleaning industry in the UK and across the world.

Why use a cleaning head (spinner)?

The benefits of using omni-directional cleaning heads are:

  • Efficiency
  • Consistency
  • Reliability
  • Safety

In short, the cleaning heads provide a superior clean. A clean which is safe, quick, efficient and consistent. A clean which can be tailored to meet set requirements such as temperature, pressure and volume to ensure the most efficient clean is achieved considering the containers material and size.

As the cleaning heads are placed in the centre of the container and operate at high pressures (often up to 140 bar or 2000PSI), every inch of the IBC is consistently cleaned including the difficult to reach areas such as top corners. Something which cannot be achieved by a pressure washer lance or hose adapter.

Can you sanitise an IBC using a cleaning head system?

Yes – water at temperatures up to 90’c (195’F) can be pumped through the Spinner. Injection of a Chemical (sanitizer) can also be achieved.

How much do they cost?

There are many different cleaning heads available on the market today. The costs of which vary according to the equipment. Typically £2000 (GBP) would buy a cleaning head suitable for cleaning a road Tanker where an IBC which requires a low pressure “rinse” would cost a lot less. Cleaning Heads offer a superior costs saving on the alternative options while providing a faultless clean every time.

What else is required?

Entry level IBC Cleaning systems consist of a pump which will produce the pressure required to run the spinner of choice a water supply and a connecting hose. At the opposite end of the spectrum, fully automated IBC cleaning systems can be manufactured to customer specifications. It all depends on what it is you are trying to achieve, the resources you have and the budget you have to work with.

Where can I get more information?

Please contact Fleetclean on +44 (0)1977 607087. Fleetclean Ltd is a UK Based Commercial Cleaning Company who specialise in the Cleaning of IBC’s (Totes) and supplies IBC (Tote) cleaning equipment. With over 25 years in the Commercial Cleaning of Tankers and suppliers of commercial cleaning equipment – Fleetclean can advise, supply and fit the best equipment for your requirements.

The video below shows a real time IBC Clean. Please go to 1 minute 50 seconds to see the internal view of the cleaning head in action.