How to: Clean an Aluminum Trailer

Categories: Tips

Tips for Maintaining Your Aluminum Trailer

To keep an aluminum trailer looking great, it’s important to clean and maintain it regularly. Not only does frequent washing and polishing enhance your cargo trailer’s (or utility trailer’s) appearance and reflect well on your business, it improves the service life and can even add to the value at resale. Fortunately, aluminum trailers are easy to maintain because they resist rust and retain their shine with just a little effort.

This month, we offer the following tips for cleaning and maintaining your aluminum cargo or utility trailer:

Keep it Clean

Day to day, you can keep your trailer in good shape simply by sweeping it out after hauling messy cargo, then hosing it off with water. But when the time for a deep cleaning comes, you’ll need a mild soap to help remove everyday dirt and grime. There are many aluminum trailer cleaning products, but dish soap, Simple Green, or similar products work well on unpainted aluminum. If your trailer is painted, use soap made for washing cars to retain the paint’s gloss. Hose down the trailer with water and use a long-handled scrub brush or mop to apply the soap, then rinse. To remove stubborn materials like yard waste or caked-on mud, a power washer and detergent usually does the trick. Let air dry or wipe dry.

Shine On

Aluminum forms a strong bond with the oxygen in the air. Though this reaction doesn’t affect the metal’s strength or structural properties, it can discolor or dull the finish. You can avoid this by periodically treating and polishing your aluminum trailer after washing and drying.

Use a paste, foam, or spray polish made for aluminum and apply it to a small area of the trailer. Rub it in with a rag then use another rag or a buffer to buff the area while the polish is still wet. Repeat over all aluminum areas of the trailer. Many people stop there, and that’s fine. But if you want to extend the time between polishing sessions, apply a coat or two of paste wax.

Restore Luster

Oxidation will still take place, and fortunately it doesn’t affect the aluminum’s function. But if you like that shiny-new look or you want the trailer to look its best for resale, you’ll need to give it an acid bath. You can do this job with citrus cleaners or hydrofluoric acid; however, hydrofluoric acid can cause burns and damage painted aluminum. For those reasons, you should consider using a truck washing service that offers acid washing for aluminum trailers. Citrus cleaners are less harsh, which makes them safer for you and paint, so they are more conducive to DIY maintenance.

Follow these trailer maintenance tips and your aluminum trailer will look great and perform well over the long haul. If you have any questions about maintaining your current trailer or would like to check out new models and options, visit your local Formula Trailers dealer.