Our use of cookies

Some cookies are necessary for us to manage how our website behaves while other optional, or non-necessary, cookies help us to analyse website usage. You can Accept All or Reject All optional cookies or control individual cookie types below.

You can read more in our Cookie Notice


These cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytics cookies

Analytical cookies help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on its usage.

Third-Party Cookies

These cookies are set by a website other than the website you are visiting usually as a result of some embedded content such as a video, a social media share or a like button or a contact map


How To Clean An IBC Tote

How To Clean An IBC Tote

This depends entirely on the following factors:

1. The product being cleaned out of the IBCs:

It is crucial to know the product inside the container when figuring out how to clean an IBC tote, as different products require different methods. For example:

  • A non-foaming, thin, water-soluble product, such as a sugar solution or sanitisers, will require a relatively straightforward wash, without the need for chemical injection or hot water.

  • Viscous, non-water soluble products, like heavy lubricants or grease, will require a much more aggressive clean, using hot water and an aggressive cleaning chemical.

  • Products which contain foaming agents, such as shampoos and car washing chemicals, will require an application of anti-foam early in the wash process, to prevent excessive foam building in the IBC.

2. The reason for cleaning the IBC tote:

The main reasons for cleaning an IBC tote are normally to either prepare the IBC for recycling, and thus roughly remove the majority of contaminants, or to reuse the IBC tote again.

There are many different factors to consider. Cleaning to reuse the IBC tote with the same product repeatedly in an internal production process, which does not need to be a sanitary grade, normally involves a thorough cleaning of the inside and outside of the IBC, and depending on the product being cleaned, may require hot water and cleaning chemical injection. The cleaning chemicals used in this type of clean are normally generic caustic chemicals, which are particularly effective when combined with hot water.

For IBCs which are required to conform with sanitary or food-grade standards, or reconditioned to comply with UN approved standards, a process must be developed to ensure repeatable, consistent cleaning every time. This will include the injection of suitable, approved chemicals at a set concentration, a thorough rinsing process, and depending on the product, the IBC tote will be dried, and often sample swab testing will take place to ensure compliance to the process and required standards. For UN standards compliance, the IBC must also be pressure tested at intervals not exceeding 2.5 years.

3. The volume of IBCs which require cleaning in a set period:

This will determine the type of equipment needed. For a small volume of IBCs in a set period (<5 per day), a single station where the IBCs are taken to a dedicated area and cleaned will be suffice for most applications. For more than 5 IBCs per day, a more advanced system is advised, where the manual handling is reduced and the wash cycle is automated in order to improve overall cleaning times and safety. For volumes above 20 IBCs per day, semi or fully automatic systems, often with conveyor systems and separate stations for different parts of the cleaning process, are the most efficient solutions.

Arcus can supply a range of solutions to cover all IBC tote cleaning requirements, from small mobile units to fully automated high-volume systems – get in touch to find out more:

Get in touch

Related Case Studies