Best Practices for IBC Tote Maintenance: Cleaning, Drying, and Safety Standards

In the world of industrial storage, IBC totes are the unsung heroes, safeguarding a wide array of crucial materials. These versatile containers hold chemicals, detergents, food ingredients, and water. They play a pivotal role in ensuring the safe storage and transportation of these products. The added benefit of IBC totes is they can be recycled, providing a green and wallet-friendly option for all sorts of businesses.

When these totes complete their initial use, you can use them again after undergoing a proper cleaning process. Do you wonder how to clean or how to dry IBC totes so that you can use them again? This article will show you how.

What Is An IBC Tote?

You may have heard the term, but what does IBC mean? It’s an acronym for Intermediate Bulk Containers. They are used to store and transport liquids and bulk materials. IBC totes are durable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers surrounded by protective steel cages, either galvanized, stainless, or carbon steel for tougher applications.

Cleaning IBC totes requires special attention due to their size and construction. The unique design and materials of IBC totes demand a different cleaning approach compared to regular plastic containers.

How To Clean IBC Totes

Cleaning an IBC tote involves the following steps.

  1. Start by emptying the tote.
  2. Rinse the tote with clean water to remove any residual product or residue.
  3. Utilize an appropriate cleaning solution to sanitize the interior of the tote.
  4. Thoroughly rinse the tote to remove any traces of the cleaning solution.
  5. Allow the tote to dry completely before reuse to prevent contamination.

Choose suitable cleaning solutions to ensure complete sanitation. Additionally, tools such as pressure washers and garden hoses can assist in removing stubborn residues.

It’s advisable to consider hiring a professional cleaning service. These professionals have the expertise and equipment to clean a tote thoroughly.

Specific Cleaning Challenges

Addressing specific IBC totes cleaning challenges depends on the original contents and the subsequent use. For example, transitioning from a liquid chemical to a powdered product requires that there are no residual chemicals or moisture left inside.

Two other issues are overpressure and vacuum conditions. If the tote you want to clean has these issues, venting IBCs for safe operation is the first step.

How to Clean and Sanitize an IBC Tote

Cleaning and sanitizing an IBC tote involves rinsing, using appropriate cleaning solutions, and allowing the tote to dry completely. The goal is to ensure that there is no residual moisture or residue and the tote is safe for reuse. 

Removing Algae from IBC Totes

Algae can be a stubborn problem inside IBC totes. Removing it requires a comprehensive cleaning approach, using specialized algae-cleaning solutions, thorough scrubbing, and high-pressure water. Bleach works well, but you must be sure to remove any residual solution. Use chlorine test strips to ensure the bleach is gone.

Cleaning a 300 Gallon Water Tank

The first step in cleaning a 300-gallon water tank is to drain it. Then, you’ll scrub the entire interior surface with an appropriate brush or power washer. Use a safe and proven cleaning solution to ensure the tank is free from contaminants. 

Purifying 275 Gallons of Water in an IBC

Purifying water in an IBC involves using water purification methods and treatments to ensure the water is safe for its intended use. One method is to use pool chlorine, which is granular calcium hypochlorite, to disinfect water. Check with a pool supply company or chemical manufacturer for proper use. 

Each of these cleaning challenges requires specific knowledge and techniques to ensure the proper maintenance and usability of the IBC totes.

How To Dry IBC Totes

Residual moisture can lead to microbial, algae, and mold growth, which will contaminate products. Excess water can react with certain products like cement. Unless you are filling it with water, it’s crucial to dry a tote properly before refilling it.

How do you dry an IBC tank? Start by opening all access points and valves to facilitate airflow and moisture evaporation. 

There are two methods for drying IBC totes: natural air drying and accelerated methods. 

  1. Natural air drying allows the tote to air dry in a well-ventilated area. Depending on the size of the opening and the temperature, it can take days. 
  2. The accelerated method uses a high-volume air blower that circulates heated air. For example, Rotajet makes specialized equipment specifically to dry a large quantity of totes quickly.

Safety and Storage Standards

Venting IBCs for safe operation is crucial to prevent the buildup of internal pressure, especially when storing water or other liquids that may expand or contract with changes in temperature. 

Additionally, winterizing your IBC tote in colder climates can prevent freezing and maintain the structural integrity of the tote. The best method is to use 275-gallon tote heaters or a size made specifically for your tote.

Controlling the temperature and pressure of your tote prolongs the product’s shelf life and keeps everyone safe.

Let’s discuss some commonly asked questions regarding totes:

How Long Will Water Last in an IBC Tote?
The longevity of water in an IBC tote depends on various factors, such as environmental conditions and the initial water quality. Start with clean, filtered water. Additional water treatment additives will reportedly keep the drinking water safe for up to 5 years if stored in a cool area out of the sunlight. We recommend regular testing and maintenance to ensure its integrity. 

Can You Stack IBC Totes Full of Water?

Before stacking IBC totes full of water, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and ensure that the structural integrity of the totes can handle the weight. An empty tote weighs 140 pounds, and 275 gallons of water weighs 2,290 pounds. In most cases, you can safely stack two totes.

Regular Maintenance and Best Practices 

Some of the tote maintenance best practices to keep in mind are:

  1. Implement a regular cleaning schedule to prevent residue buildup and contamination.
  2. Inspect the totes for any signs of damage or wear, addressing any issues promptly.
  3. Properly label, date, and store the totes according to the specific requirements of the stored materials.
  4. Regularly test valves and fittings to prevent leaks and ensure operational integrity.

Train personnel in the correct handling and usage of IBC totes to minimize risks and ensure compliance with safety standards.

Ensuring the Safe Reuse of IBC Totes 

Totes can store hazardous and non-hazardous materials. Adding products without adequately cleaning the containers can lead to a disaster. For example, a farmer used a tote that previously held urea, a fertilizer product, to water his cattle. The tainted water killed five young cows. Improper cleaning or failure to follow safe practices can contaminate products and harm users.

Temperature can also cause damage to the totes and contents. Powerblanket IBC tote warmers and heaters will keep your temperature-sensitive materials at the right temperature. Explore Tote Heaters to ensure that your IBC totes are stored at optimal temperatures, safeguarding the integrity of your valuable materials.

Keep your temperature-sensitive materials at the right temperature with Powerblanket IBC tote warmers and heaters.


Shelby Thompson

Shelby Thompson is the head of standard product sales for Powerblanket. He has a distinguished military career, having served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. In his time in the Marines, Shelby acquired an impressive skillset that he now uses in his current role. When he's not working, Shelby loves spending time outdoors with his wife, son, and daughter. He is also a semi-keen hunter, fair weather fisherman, and shooter. Unfortunately, Shelby also has something of an unlucky streak when it comes to Fantasy Football at the company.

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