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how to clean galvanized steel trailer

How to Clean a Galvanized Steel Trailer 

Galvanized steel is a popular material for many different applications, and especially with trailers. But how do you clean once it gets dirty? Many people make mistakes when it comes to washing their trailer, and finding out how to do it can be confusing. That’s why in this article, we go through the steps and much more for how to clean galvanized steel trailers, so read on and find out!

Why Does Steel Rust and Corrode?

how to clean galvanized steel trailer

Steel rusts and corrodes when it’s exposed to oxygen and water

Steel is a commonly used metal material for a wide range of applications. This is because of its strength, durability, and affordability. However, it’s also mainly made up of iron, which produces rust and corrodes when it’s exposed to oxygen and water. The rate that it rusts also depends on how much oxygen and water it comes into contact with.

Galvanized Steel Explained

Before we get into how to clean galvanized steel trailers, let’s get to know what galvanized steel is first. Galvanized steel is a type of steel that’s been coated with a layer of zinc. This coating forms a solid barrier that protects the steel from the outside elements, helping prevent rust and corrosion. 

There are also two main types of galvanized steel, each using a different process to get their outside zinc layer:

Hot Dipped

how to clean galvanized steel trailer

Steel is dipped into molten zinc to galvanize it in the hot dipping process

The most popular type is hot dipped galvanized steel, made by dipping the formed piece of steel into a bath of molten zinc. This way of processing the steel makes the zinc bond to the steel, giving it a thick and durable coating. This zinc coating then gives the steel underneath a very strong barrier to outside elements that otherwise make it rust. 


The other method of making galvanized metal and steel is with electrogalvanization. This method also uses a bath of zinc solution that the steel is dipped into. But instead of the zinc being hot and bonding through heat, an electric current is applied to the zinc bath. The electricity gets drawn to the steel, and a thin layer of zinc is then deposited onto the steel in the process.

how to clean galvanized steel trailer

Galvanized steel is a popular material for trailers thanks to its durability

Galvanized steel has been a popular choice for many years for a wide range of applications. This is because the steel becomes durable and low maintenance with its protective coating. Common places where people use galvanized steel are in fencing, roofing, and gutters. It’s also used in appliances, vehicles, and other construction materials.

Benefits of Galvanized Steel

DurabilityGalvanized steel is very durable, and holds up against heavy wear and tear. This is especially true with hot dipped galvanized steel thanks to its thicker layer of zinc coating.
Low MaintenanceGalvanized steel does not require much maintenance to keep it from wearing away.
Rust & Corrosion ResistanceFor outdoor applications, galvanized steel is great because of its protective outer layer of zinc. This stops oxygen and water from creating rust and corrosion with the steel.
AffordableAll types of galvanized steel are affordable. However, electro dipped galvanized steel is slightly more affordable. Hot dipped steel costs more to produce compared to it but is more durable.

How to Clean a Galvanized Steel Trailer – Steps

Now let’s get into how to clean a galvanized steel trailer and the steps to do it.

Before you start, you’ll need the following:

  • 2 clean buckets
  • Easy access to water
  • Mild soap such as dishwashing detergent 
  • A soft-bristled brush
  • A dry cloth or towel
  • Metal polish (optional)
  1. Rinse out your trailer with water. We recommend using a garden hose to do this, as it makes the process much easier. Remove as much loose dirt and debris as possible before moving to step 2.
how to clean galvanized steel trailer

Fill a bucket with soapy water and fill a different bucket with plain water

  1. Mix together a soap and water solution in one bucket and fill the other with water only. Then dip your soft bristled brush into the bucket with soap solution and use it to scrub the trailer in circular motions. After your brush gets dirty, rinse it out in the bucket filled only with water to clean it off, dip it back into the soapy water and scrub again. 

This way, you minimise the risk of damaging the zinc coating and make cleaning off any dirt on it easier. Be careful to also not scrub your galvanized trailer too hard as that could cause scratches.

  1. Rinse the trailer off with clean water. Make sure to wash off any remaining soap by rinsing it from the top down to speed up the process. If you see any dirty spots still on your trailer, scrub it again with the brush and soap solution before rinsing again.
  2. The final step is to take your dry cloth or towel and wipe off any water that’s still on your trailer. 
  1. An optional finishing step once your trailer is dry is to apply a mild metal polish. Metal polish helps protect the zinc coating on the galvanized steel. Make sure to follow the instructions on the label of your polish. We also recommend not using polish on galvanized steel that has heavy corrosion, as it can create more damage.

How Often Should I Clean My Galvanized Steel Trailer?

how to clean galvanized steel trailer

Those living near coastlines or in salty environments need to wash their trailers more often

Along with knowing how to clean galvanized trailers, you also need to know how often to do it. With regular use, we recommend washing and cleaning your trailer every month. For those living in salty environments, such as near the coastlines, we recommend washing it more often. It’s also best to use car wash shampoos with anti rust additives to help preserve your trailer against salt damage.

Other Tips and Tricks

how to clean galvanized steel trailer

Keeping your trailer in the garage and out of the elements helps preserve its condition

Now that we’ve gone through the process of how to clean galvanized steel trailers and how often you should do it, let’s go through some other tips. One recommendation we have is to avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as these can damage the galvanized coating. We also recommend you to wear gloves to protect your hands from any debris that comes off from your trailer while you clean it.

Another tip is to store your trailer somewhere dry. Keeping it in a ventilated indoor area like a garage keeps it away from the elements and stops it from getting unnecessarily dirty. And don’t store it wet.

Clean Your Galvanized Steel Trailers The Right Way!

Galvanized trailers are a great tool to transport a wide variety of things. Follow our steps for how to clean galvanized steel trailers and you can keep it in tip top shape for many years to come. And to pick up a new, high quality galvanized steel trailer, look no further than King Kong Trailers. We’ve got a wide variety of single axle, tandem axle, traditional and flat top box trailers to suit all your needs, so head over to our website today and find the right one for you!

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