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There are probably thousands of articles floating around the Internet that discuss how to maintain a forklift. These stories include maintaining a forklift battery, checklists of items that should be inspected before a forklift is operated, when you should consider buying or leasing a new forklift, forklift fleet management, and on and on.
One activity that a forklift operator should know and perform regularly is cleaning the forklift. You don’t drive around in a dirty car, do you? You periodically take it to a car wash of some kind to cleanse off the grime and dirt that settles on its surface. A forklift should be cleaned regularly as well. Of course, the purpose for the shower is cosmetics, but it also helps to prolong the working life of the forklift.
First, the person tasked with cleaning a forklift should wear protective equipment including goggles, work gloves and boots. Dirt dislodged from the forklift as it is washed can be hazardous to humans. Moreover, soaps used to do the job can cause irritation to the skin or eyes.
Second, use a broom or brush to attack the large, loose buildup. Pre-soak the dirtiest areas if necessary and work from the top of the lift to the bottom so that the dirt and grime flows down.
Many forklift manufacturers including Toyota Material Handling suggest that you use a pressure washer. Soap, water and a little elbow grease isn’t going to cut it. Another reason why a pressure washer is recommended is that when using just soap, water and rag hazardous substances can be dislodged from the lift. Using a pressure washer permits the person doing the cleaning to stand some distance away from the lift providing protective space against airborne materials.
If the water coming from the pressure appliance is not fully dislodging the dirt and grime, you can use soap. However, it is suggested that you use a biodegradable, non-toxic soap solution.
Don’t forget to clean the underside of the truck as well.
Park the lift outside for a few hours to permit the sun to dry it. Make certain that all the critical parts of the lift are dry and that all things work properly before operating the lift.
A person tasked with cleaning an electric forklift should use compressed air, not water. Water can affect the performance of the forklift’s electrical components and can cause shortages and electrical damage. Using an air compressor permits you to adjust the air pressure and that should make it easier to remove debris and dirt from the exterior of the lift.