Forklift Maintenance and Cleaning Tips

If you’re looking to extend the service life of your forklift, regular cleaning and maintenance may be your answer. Keep reading to learn more about forklift cleaning and maintenance and how it can benefit your machine.

Cleaning Is an Essential Part of Forklift Maintenance

When you think about servicing your forklift, you likely consider tasks like changing the oil, rotating the tires, or inspecting the forks themselves. Forklift cleaning is often overlooked—but it’s an essential part of maintenance. Below, we’ll explore some of the ways you can extend the life of your machine with forklift cleaning.

Forklift Cleaning Checklist

Forklift maintenance and cleaning don’t have to be complicated. In fact, they can actually be rather simple with the right tools and proper attention to detail. Following this forklift cleaning checklist will help keep your machine in good working order, but make sure to refer back to your manufacturer’s recommendations for specific maintenance and cleaning instructions.

Wear Protective Gear

Whenever you’re working with a forklift, it’s important to maintain good safety practices. Even forklift maintenance and cleaning has its hazards—dirt and debris can be forcefully dislodged, and there could be hazardous materials on your machine depending on your industry.

When cleaning your forklift, make sure to wear goggles, gloves, and rubber boots. The goggles and gloves will protect your eyes and hands from hazardous materials and flying debris, and the boots will keep your feet dry. Try to cover up your skin as much as possible. You can wear pants and a long sleeve shirt to prevent hazardous materials from making contact.

Remove Trash

Next, take some time to clear out the console of your forklift. There may be bits of trash, pens and paper, or other items cluttering the console and flooring. Removing these items from the inside of the forklift creates a clean space for the forklift operator to use the machine without distractions.

Clean off Exterior Debris

Depending on your industry, your forklift will accumulate varying amounts of dirt, caked-on mud, or grime. And, depending on how your machine is powered, you’ll need to employ various cleaning techniques.

For electric forklifts and lift trucks, you can use a broom to remove dirt and dust from the exterior. For debris and grime that are more difficult to remove, use an air compressor to dislodge them. You can also carefully wipe down the exterior of your forklift with a non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning solution. However, because you’re cleaning an electrically-powered machine, you need to be extremely careful to not expose electrical components to water or fluid.

For internal combustion forklifts, use a pressure washer to dislodge all of the dirt, dust, and grime from the exterior. Pressure washers are the perfect cleaning tool for this forklift—they prevent the operator from getting too close to hazardous runoff, flying debris, or splash-back.

Regardless of the type of machine that you’re cleaning, you need to be extremely careful and meticulous. Many forklifts have bearings with lifetime lubrication that cleaning solutions and steam can disrupt. If the lubrication is allowed to escape, the bearings will be irreparably damaged.

Use a Top-Down Approach

When cleaning your forklift, make sure that you use a top-down approach. Gravity causes debris and weather to fall and flow downward, so if you start at the top, you won’t have to clean the same areas more than once. You can also make the cleaning process easier for yourself by pre-soaking your forklift with water. This will loosen up caked-on debris and grime and make it easier to dislodge.

Check the Underside of Your Forklift

The undercarriage of your forklift is often forgotten, but just like the rest of your machine, it collects debris and grime and needs to be cleaned. When wiping down and pressure washing your forklift, make sure to pay attention to the undercarriage. You can spray off caked-on debris and wipe this area down as well.

Allow Your Forklift To Dry Fully

After you clean your forklift, make sure you give it time to fully dry before you operate it again. Use a clean cloth and air compressor to remove excess water from all of the surfaces and crevices. This step of the cleaning process is important because internal moisture can damage your machine, especially its moving parts.

For the best results, you should clean your forklift at the end of a shift so that it can dry for multiple hours.

Proper forklift fleet management helps you improve your warehouse efficiency and productivity. Explore our blog to learn more.

Benefits of Regular Forklift Cleaning

Cleaning your forklift regularly benefits both your machine and your business. Below, you’ll find three important benefits of regular forklift cleaning.

Lower Maintenance Costs

If you keep your forklift clean, you can avoid buildups of dirt and debris which can damage your machine via wear and tear. By preventing this type of damage, you can save money on maintenance costs and part replacement.

Decreased Risk of Accidents

Regular forklift maintenance and cleaning ensure that your machine stays in good condition. With regular cleaning, you can prevent rust, corrosion, blockages, and fire hazards. This helps reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries while operating your forklift.

Extended Lifespan

Regular forklift cleaning prevents rust and corrosion, and it also prevents dirt and debris from damaging the inner mechanisms of your machine. If you prevent your machine from taking passive damage, it’ll last longer.

Forklift Preventative Maintenance Checklist

On top of regular cleaning, maintaining a consistent maintenance schedule for your forklift makes sure it stays in tip-top shape. Preventative maintenance includes daily inspections, weekly inspections, and monthly inspections. Here are some things you should keep an eye on to ensure that your forklift is in good working order.

  • Fluid levels (fuel, hydraulic, oil, and water)
  • Hoses and air filters
  • Lubrication
  • Tire pressure
  • Fork condition
  • Brake performance
  • Seat belt tension

While this preventative maintenance checklist is a great place to start, it is not an exhaustive list. Your manufacturer recommendations will provide you with the required service intervals for each component of your forklift.

Preventative Maintenance with HTX Material Handling

To get the most out of your forklifts, you need a comprehensive forklift maintenance program. At HTX Material Handling, that’s our specialty. We provide our customers with forklift maintenance programs that prevent costly breakdowns, injuries, or machine malfunctions while keeping your machine running optimally.

Contact us today to learn more about our forklift maintenance and services.

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