Blogs - 2023 article-2

How to clean a forklift without wrecking functions

When you receive a bought or hired machine from us, it’s in spick and span condition. But, depending on your worksite environment, you could find that within a single day (maybe even an hour), it is caked with dirt, mud, dust and whatever other element is flying around the place. We organise post-hire cleaning, however if you need to give it a clean mid-hire, or you own the machine, you are going to want to know how to properly clean your forklift (or telehandler, or scissor lift) in a way that does the job well, without interfering with the functionality of the machine (which can be a very costly issue!). Follow this guide to keep your machine clean. 

Protect yourself

Wear safety goggles, gloves and protective gear, including a hard hat and steel toed boots, at all times. You’re going to be working at a height, and will be in contact with every part of the forklift, including the mechanics. Treat it as you would working on the forklift in any other capacity: safety process first and foremost. 

Also ensure you’re protecting others, by washing in a cleared area, with perimeter markers and signs to ensure no one will walk past or under the machine. 

Remove dirt and debris chunks

It’s important to get off the bigger chunks of dirt, mud and debris before you start the more thorough cleaning part to ensure you don’t scratch or damage anything. And, if you try to scrub this away, you’re just giving yourself more work than you need. Use gloved hands or a medium bristle brush to get off any dry bits that you can. Start at the top of the machine, and work your way down. Use a secured scissor lift to reach the top. Try to get the debris to land on the ground below, rather than building up on the lower parts of the machine. 

Be particularly careful of dirt and dust build up in the chassis; it can cause real damage if not cleaned out. 

Don’t get clever with cleaning products

When you’re ready to give it a wash, don’t go hard on cleaning chemicals (including soap). They can affect the paint work, but also can be dangerous if they come into contact with battery acid or antifreeze. To protect the paint work and all the materials, water is more than capable of doing the job. Pressure washers are great for controlled coverage and getting tricky areas clean. It’ll get rid of stubborn dirt and mud, without needing to scrub. It’s important to manage the pressure though; too hard could risk affecting the paint work, and too little won’t do the job.

Keep it clean

There’s no point in going to all of the effort to do this once, if you’re going to let it build up all over again. You certainly don’t need to be making it look like a showcase piece every single day. Machines get dirty, they’re built for grit. However, there’s a difference between a bit of dirt and an actual build up of significant debris that will begin to affect the function of the machine, or trash the exterior look of it. Forklifts are big investments; treat it like you would a car of equal value.