A Guide to Truck Cleaning
Trucking is big business. The American Trucking Association reports that the nation's trucking industry revenue was a staggering $700.4 billion in 2014. According to the same report, these vehicles moved 9.96 billion tons of goods in 2013.
The industry employs millions of drivers who travel thousands of miles a year. Whether the route is short-haul or long, trucks deliver your goods, keep the economy moving, and get plenty dirty along the way.
Drivers are fiercely proud of their machines — especially long-haul truckers who sleep in their vehicles — but truck cleaning is more than an exercise in vanity. Maintaining a clean truck, both inside and out, is good for business. It presents a professional face to the public, favorably cues Department of Transportation inspectors about the vehicle's overall upkeep, and makes the driver feel good. Also, as many drivers own their vehicle, proper truck cleaning protects their investment.
Put It to Bed
Truck beds can be tricky to clean, but proper maintenance helps protect them from everyday wear and tear. A buying guide on eBay identifies four different kinds of truck bed surfaces: unlined, spray-on liner, drop-down liner, and a truck bed mat.
No matter the surface, sweeping out the bed is the first step. Next comes the actual washing. While you can accomplish this with the traditional car wash method of wetting, soaping, rinsing, and drying, it will take a lot of time and effort. If you have a fleet to maintain, this method will probably not be cost effective. A spray-and-vac machine that consolidates the process proves a better choice. Equipment like this wets, cleans, and dries in one-half to one-third the time. The devices even do the job better: studies show they are 30 to 60 times more effective than cotton and microfiber mops.
Catch the Cab
The truck's cab can accumulate trash quickly. Old chip bags, beef jerky wrappers, soda cans, and sandwich packaging can cause crumbs, stains, and odd smells. You'll want to clear out this kind of trash before getting to the heavy cleaning.
Once cleared, remove mats before vacuuming the floors and seats. Dashboards should be handled gently to avoid damaging any knobs or dials. Avoid using any product that leaves a glossy finish, as it may case glare that can make driving unsafe.
Stains on seat upholstery and cab carpeting can be cleaned with warm, soapy water or an upholstery cleaner. Take care not to let these soft surfaces stay wet, as that will encourage mold growth. Windows should be cleaned inside and out — a microfiber cloth or squeegee will work great for this task.
Click here for more tools to clean your vehicle and keep on trucking.
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Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.