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Pallets are often reused and recycled through buyback programs to help reduce the number of materials needed to build new pallets. While this business method is highly sustainable and imperative to the supply chain for wooden pallets, it also produces possible hazards.

Whenever pallets are traveling and exposed to environments with heavy moisture and darkness, there’s a chance that pests and mold will infest these lumber materials. To learn more about how to clean and treat wooden pallets to keep your warehouse environment safe, continue reading our blog below.

Step 1: Remove Any Hazards

Before you can clean or treat your wooden pallets, you must first inspect these containers. Manufacturers build pallets with steel nails that can often stick out as sharp and hazardous protrusions. Examine your pallets for any evidence of sharp nails or corners first and remove these hazards. Checking for nails is one of the many ways businesses should examine whether pallets are safe for use. Once you can safely handle the pallets, you can begin cleaning and treating these materials.

Step 2: Check for Pest Protection

All pallets should have been previously treated with methyl bromide to fumigate any insects or pests inside the pallet’s wood. Pallets should have a stamp labeled “MB” to confirm this pest treatment. If pallets do not have these stamps, businesses can reject them at the US border.

Softwood pallets may also be kiln-dried as an extended form of pest and mold protection. Kiln-dried pallets are dried by sucking out excess moisture from wood and creating a less porous surface for pallets.

Step 3: Cleaning Pallets

A warehouse should utilize power hoses to clean pallets thoroughly. Pallets should first be rinsed with water, then scrubbed with a solution of soap and diluted bleach. This solution will help to eliminate bacteria and mold growth hidden in pallet crevasses.

After pallets have been soaked thoroughly in soap and bleach, employees can rinse them again. Warehouses should place freshly cleaned pallets in a designated area where they can dry thoroughly before being used for storage.

Although pallets are highly reusable, warehouses must practice safe cleaning to ensure that their storage does not have pest or mold infestations. Review these steps on how to clean and treat wooden pallets to see if your warehouse is following the proper steps to keeping your work environment and workers safe.  

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.