How to Clean Industrial Chemical Tanks

Industrial tanks are used in various industries. Since they might contain different types of chemicals, from basic to highly reactive ones, they require periodic maintenance and cleaning. Being a company that manufactures stainless steel tanks, we have all the insights on how to clean industrial chemical tanks.

Whether you already have a chemical tank or are planning on purchasing one from us, this guide is just for you. We will explain each step of the cleaning process so you can be prepared when the time comes to do it.

How to Clean Industrial Chemical Tanks

Four Steps on How to Clean Industrial Chemical Tanks

How to clean industrial chemical tanks? If you are keen on doing it in-house, you can save a lot of money and time. You will be able to prepare for it promptly and explore what cleaning options will suit your business needs best.

The steps on how to clean a chemical tank include:

  1. Preparing the tank for cleaning
  2. Inspecting the industrial storage tank
  3. Finding suitable cleaning solutions
  4. Cleaning the tank

Step 1. Preparing the tank for cleaning

The first step in how to clean chemical containers is preparing them for the process. Firstly, you must disconnect the tank from electricity. Ensure you turn off every pump, mixer, and other electricity-powered equipment.

If the industrial tank is connected to another system, ensure you disconnect it. Remove all the valves and drain down the lines.

The next step would be to remove all the liquid from the tank. This is an extremely important process because it removes all flammable or toxic substances. You can use a pumping system or a vacuum truck to remove the substance entirely. Be sure to adequately vent the tank before draining the contents to prevent tank damage.

Continue by venting the tank mechanically. Also, remove the dangerous vapors by doing a gas freeing process.

Preparing the Tank for Cleaning
Source: / Photo Contributor: MR.Zanis

Step 2. Inspect the industrial tank

Chemical storage tanks must be inspected during every cleaning process. It’s best to inspect both the inside and the outside thoroughly and look for:

  • Cracks
  • Corrosion
  • Debris, water, or chemical residue
  • Piping damages
  • Other damage

Step 3. Finding suitable cleaning solutions

There are several types of tanks, and depending on the material they are made of, the cleaning process may differ. So, how do you clean a chemical tank according to the materials it is made of?

You should always take into consideration what the tank is made of and avoid using cleaning agents that might damage it. For instance, if you have a metal tank, you can use an alkaline cleaner. You can make plastic tanks look spotless with special plastic cleaners or even mild detergents. For fiberglass, the best cleaning products are acid-based.

Wondering how to clean industrial stainless steel tanks? We recommend cleaning stainless steel industrial storage tanks with diluted phosphoric acid or citric acid (sometimes both), then rinse thoroughly.

The type of chemical you should use to clean the industrial tank also depends on the outcome you want to achieve. To illustrate, alkaline cleaning products are best for cleaning dirt, organic soils, grime, and grease. On the other hand, every other type of leftover in the tank may be cleaned with acidic cleaners.

Step 4. Sterilizing the tank (Not Usually Necessary)

After finding a suitable disinfectant, an optional step (although not usually necessary) on how to clean out chemical tanks is sterilizing them. You can use a rotary spray head to apply the disinfectant inside the tank. The benefit of using a rotary spray head is that it ensures full coverage.

The rotary spray nozzle can significantly reduce solvent, water, and chemical consumption. It might also reduce the time you need to clean the industrial tank. To pick the right nozzle for your project, you should take into consideration the impact, flow rate, and pressure.

Other types of tank cleaners you can use are static ones, rotary jet cleaners, and shadow cleaning technology. In order to select the best type of tank cleaner, you should consider:

  • The tank’s size
  • Residue type
  • Tank’s environment
  • Obstructions in the tank

Finally, you can also sterilize the tank manually. Some industrial tank interiors are suitable for high-pressure wash cleaning.

Sterilizing the Tank
Source: / Photo Contributor: nurkhann

How Often Do You Need to Clean an Industrial Tank?

It is not all about knowing how do you clean a chemical tank. You also must know how often to do it.

 If you have a storage tank that is in great condition, a 10-year inspection interval is recommended. This interval should be shorter if the industrial tank is in poor condition or holds aggressive chemical contents. However, there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to cleaning intervals. It mainly depends on the tank’s material, the chemicals stored inside, and maintenance schedules. 

If you don’t go through the chemical storage tank cleaning procedure, you might contaminate the second substance if there is sludge or grime build-up. Your company might lose money because the quality and effectiveness of the new product will likely be affected.

Other common reasons for cleaning tanks with industrial chemicals are:

  • Upcoming inspections, both internal and external
  • Potential or noticeable tank issues

We recommend following a regular maintenance and inspection schedule for your chemical storage tanks in order to keep them in the best possible condition and prolong their useful service life. In addition, you will prolong the lifespan of the chemical storage tanks and always have the content inside protected.


Understanding how to clean industrial chemical tanks is vital. Being familiar with the whole process will assist you in creating a maintenance plan according to the latest standards. Regular cleaning can enhance operational performance and contribute to environmental stewardship by minimizing potential hazardous chemical leaks or spills.

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David Onachilla

David is the owner of Savannah Tank and brings a wealth of knowledge in the tank manufacturing industry to our readers.

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