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Battery Washing: In House vs. Outside Vendor

Posted on September 12, 2014 20:05 by Admin

Proper forklift battery maintenance greatly extends the usable life of the power cells and lowers your fleet operating costs. Battery washing is a key part of that maintenance cycle as it removes corrosion that can interfere with proper battery operation. Is it better to do your own battery washing or to contract it out to a third party?

What Is Battery Washing?

Before you can decide how to clean the batteries you need to understand what is involved. Batteries build up corrosion around their terminals. Left unattended that corrosion will damage the battery and even the cables. Corrosion can also create a short that will cause the cell to discharge even when not in use, greatly shortening battery life. Terminals should be washed with a basic solution that can neutralize the acid and remove the corrosion.

Another cleaning issue that is often overlooked is what to do with the wash water when you are done. This water will be contaminated with acid that should be neutralized before the water goes down the drain, but there is a more serious problem. Small amounts of lead and other heavy metals will come off the battery. Heavy metals are one of the most serious pollutants known so these metals must be removed and disposed of properly.

Outside Vendors

In general, companies use third-party vendors because those businesses can afford equipment or training that would not be cost effective in a small or even a medium-sized company. Batteries can't just be hosed off in the driveway. Battery washing equipment automates and streamlines the cleaning process. The wash water is collected and in some cases even properly neutralized for disposal.

The most obvious downside of using a third party is the cost. This is an ongoing expense every month with no ROI. In addition you have to clean according to their schedule rather than yours. Whether they come out for pickup or they require you to deliver the batteries, it is still far less convenient than being able to clean batteries at your facility.

Doing It Yourself

Multi-Shifter battery washing equipment is really quite inexpensive. The washers are easy to use so require little training, and the devices are mostly hands off so the workers aren't exposed to the acid, heavy metals and electric shock hazards of the batteries. You'll find that battery washers pay for themselves very quickly.

Our battery washers include optional water recovery systems. This equipment neutralizes the acid and recovers the heavy metals for easy disposal. The water is recycled for the next wash cycle, greatly reducing the water needed for battery cleaning. The enter wash system is designed to be as easy to use and maintain as possible, while still providing the cleaning services needed.

If you run a very small fleet then it might be worthwhile to look into outside vendors, but most forklift fleets would find it more economical to do their battery washing in house. Contact us if you have any questions about Multi-Shifter battery washers.


No company can afford to throw money away, and wasting a resource is as bad as flushing cash down the toilet. You already know that proper maintenance keeps your forklifts running, but are you giving your batteries the same attention? Regular care, including battery washing, allows you to extend the life of the cells and get a longer useful life for purchase cost.

Why Battery Washing Matters

Corrosion is a normal side effect from the standard operation of lead-acid batteries. Corrosion builds up on the terminals and this can create a number of problems. First of all, it interferes with the connection between the terminals and the battery cable, lowering the power the battery can deliver and shortening the time between recharges. Severe enough corrosion can short the battery, causing it to discharge slowly even when not in use.

However it's not just corrosion that is the problem. Dirt and debris can get into the terminal connection and create the same problem. This is a greater problem for outdoor vehicles, but even indoor forklifts can build up dust and dirt over time. Regular washing should be a part of your battery maintenance program.

The Problem With Manual Washing

Most of us have cleaned a car battery at some point in our lives, and forklift battery washing is pretty much the same thing. However manual washing has several problems.
•    It's Slow - Your workers have better things to do than spend time meticulously scrubbing battery terminals clean. Cleaning your car battery every few months is one thing; washing dozens or even hundreds of forklift batteries is something else.
•    It's Dangerous - Batteries are basically sheets of lead bathed in strong acid. Even with PPE there is always the chance of skin or eye damage from an acid burn, ingestion of toxic lead, or even a broken toe from a dropped battery.
•    It's Environmentally Unsound (and maybe even illegal!) - Washing the terminals will scrub off a little lead, which ends up in the rinse and eventually the water supply. That is not only bad for the environment but could get your company hit with serious pollution fines.

Automatic Washers Make It Easy

Automatic battery washers require a small capital investment, but pay for themselves quickly. All you do is load the battery into the feeder, push a button and wait for the cycle to finish. After a short time, the battery is returned clean and dry and ready to go back into a forklift or be sent for recharging.

The best battery washing equipment includes a water recovery system. This system filters out the lead and other heavy metals for easy, safe and legal disposal. It also neutralizes the acid so the water can be used for the next battery. The closed loop system saves time, money and water as well as keeping your workers safe.

Baby your batteries and save money. Contact Multi-Shifter to find out how our battery washing and filtration systems help you run a better fleet.


For over 40 years the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has enacted laws designed to keep heavy metals out of our drinking water but have met with limited success. Sources ranging from lead pipes to battery washing continue to introduce lead into the environment but there are steps companies can take to prevent this from happening.

Dangers Of Lead Contamination

Every day you turn on the television to discover yet another environmental threat that is going to kill us all. The media tends to overreact to research, assuming that if a substance poses dangers in high concentrations then it is equally dangerous in low concentrations. This Chicken Little attitude doesn't warn people as much as it desensitizes them, so when the real threats come along people yawn and change the channel.

One such real threat is lead contamination. Levels in the parts per billion range can turn healthy drinking water into a toxic soup that causes kidney failure, brain damage and death. The danger is enormous to adults and catastrophic to children. Children's developing neurological systems are especially vulnerable to the damage from heavy metal poisoning.

Sources Of Lead Contamination


EPA studies from 2011 show some drinking water systems contain over twice the allowed amount of lead contamination. Most of the lead in our water comes from lead pipes. Despite 20 years of replacing lead with copper, many communities and homes still have lead pipe. However plumbing isn't the only problem. Industrial activities such as battery washing run the risk of introducing heavy metals into the environment.

Battery washing is a necessary part of the maintenance of forklift batteries. It lengthens the useful life of a power cell by removing the corrosion from the terminals that interferes with proper operation. However the wastewater will contain small amounts of lead. Businesses are forbidden from pouring the lead-filled water down the drain or dumping it into the environment to avoid poisoning the water supply or contaminating wildlife, but what else is a company supposed to do?

Solutions To Lead Contamination

The answer is to recover battery washing wastewater so it can be properly treated to remove the lead and other contaminants for proper disposal. The clean water can be reused in the battery washing process or simply dumped down the drain. Unfortunately the cost of hiring someone to treat the water can be high, leaving smaller organizations struggling to find a solution.

Multi-Shifter's battery washing equipment is a better choice for most if not all forklift fleets. Our systems use the water in a closed loop. Wastewater is run through a sophisticated filtering system to remove lead, arsenic and other heavy metals. The metals can be removed from the system for proper disposal. It's inexpensive, easy to use and safe for the environment.

Contact Multi-Shifter to find out more about how our battery washing systems take the lead out of the equation and the stress out of battery maintenance.


Lead Contamination And What You Can Do About It

Posted on September 18, 2012 18:46 by Admin

Lead-acid batteries are inexpensive and reliable but they can contaminate the surrounding area with heavy metals like lead. However when you move the power cells with specialized battery handling equipment, you protect your workers and the surrounding community from the dangers of lead poisoning.

Daily Battery Handling

Lead is an insidious toxic metal. It takes only a tiny amount to pose dangers to the heart, kidney, brain and other vital organs. Workers who don't wash their hands after handling batteries could touch their mouths or their food and ingest the metal without even realizing their hands were dirty. The real danger is not one time exposure, but rather long-term build up over years of working with lead-containing products.

When working with batteries, workers should always use gloves approved to protect against acids and heavy metals. Rather than working with the batteries manually, use battery handling equipment such as lifts and transports to minimize the possibility of accidental lead poisoning. Workers should immediately wash bare skin that comes into contact with any part of the battery, and should routinely wash their hands after working with batteries.

Battery Washes

Speaking of washing, batteries need to be washed regularly as well to get rid of the buildup of corrosion that appears on the terminals. These acidic deposits pose dangers to workers who come in contact with them and can damage equipment using the batteries. The buildup increases the battery's rate of discharge and shortens its life.

However battery wash water can't be poured down the drain, storm sewer or into a nearby river. The water will be contaminated with lead so must be disposed of according to EPA rules to ensure none of the metal ends up in the water table. Our battery handling equipment designed to wash batteries includes the ability to collect and process the water, separating out heavy metals for easy disposal.

The Death Of A Battery

All batteries have a limited life. You can extend that life with proper care, but eventually the battery will become useless and will have to be disposed of. You still face the problem of dangerous and toxic heavy metals. If batteries are placed in landfills, or even placed in some storage area and forgotten about, the lead can leech into the water table and contaminate the community's drinking water.

The U.S. car industry has been a leader in lead battery recycling and as a result there are recycling centers all over the country that will take batteries, recover the useful metals and properly dispose of the rest. Did you know that over half the lead supply in this country comes from recycled car and forklift batteries?

Be cautious around lead-acid batteries. They are safe if handled correctly but dangerous if not. Use Multi-Shifter battery handling equipment to help protect your workers from the dangers of lead poisoning.


Battery Washing 101

Posted on December 6, 2011 00:54 by Admin

One of the most overlooked aspects of battery maintenance is battery washing. Without proper washing, batteries not only have shorter life but they also endanger workers and equipment. A Multi-Shifter battery wash cabinet should be part of your company's maintenance plan.

Corrosion And Its Hazards

Forklift batteries contain acid, and small amounts of that acid leak out and corrode any metal or other materials it contacts. This is most noticeable on the battery's terminals, where corrosion builds up quite visible. This layer of corrosion impedes the flow of electricity, reduces the battery's efficiency and shortens its useful life. It also causes a buildup of heat and can cause a fire.

Corrosion may be most visible at the terminals, but it affects the battery's casing as well. Acid slowly eats away the casing, threatening its integrity. This causes larger leaks, in some cases large enough to endanger workers. Finally, corroded batteries damage forklift electrical systems. Despite all of these many dangers, the problems can be minimized or eliminated with a regular program of battery washing.

Problems With Battery Wash Services

Battery washing is so critical to proper care that companies exist to do nothing but help you maintain your forklift batteries. Although we understand these companies provide a valuable service, especially to companies with small fleets who may not be able to afford their own wash equipment, they aren't the most cost-effective solutions for larger fleets.

Outside battery maintenance services can be quite expensive, but there is more to the cost than the actual fee. Your batteries are unavailable during the wash process, and for offsite services that might be days. Even if the company comes to your site, you have little control over how long it takes or when these services are available. Your entire fleet might be at a standstill during the wash.

Multi-Shifter Battery Washing Cabinets

Our line of battery washing equipment handles the washing process automatically. These automated cabinets are "set it and forget it" systems that require little worker oversight. Batteries are loaded in and then the machine takes care of feeding, washing and drying each unit. Workers are not exposed to hazardous acids or other compounds.

Battery wash wastewater has to be handled carefully due to the presence of acid and heavy metals such as lead or mercury. Multi-Shifter systems recycle the water to minimize the amount of waste produced. Every drop of wastewater is kept inside the unit with no danger of spills or accidental contamination. When the wash process is done, you can drain the contaminated water for proper disposal.

Don't overlook the importance of battery washing as part of forklift maintenance. Buy one of our inexpensive wash cabinets and enjoy the benefits of longer battery life.


Washing batteries has 2 by-products – a clean battery and dirty water. This waste water is full of Lead, Antimony, Arsenic, Sulfuric Acid, and other contaminates. The EPA mandates that since you are the generator of this waste, you have "Cradle-to-Grave" responsibility for this waste. There is no time limit. You are responsible forever.

How Do You Wash Your Forklift Batteries?
"Go Green" with Multi-Shifter's Wash/Recycle System

Multi-Shifter's Wash/Recycle System cleans your batteries and then removes all the dirt, heavy metals, sulfuric acid, and organic waste. The system is self-contained – no floor drain is needed. You start out with tap water and end up with pure water. No water has to be hauled away.

How do You Dispose of the Waste Water?

If you are dumping the water down the drain, you are in trouble. If you have a vendor washing your batteries and hauling off the water, you are still responsible. "Cradle-to-Grave" still applies. Dumping into lime pits does not address heavy metals such as Lead.


Multi-Shifter's Recycle System Takes Away Cradle-to-Grave Responsibility

Our system traps all the heavy metals in special media tanks. When the tanks are saturated, they are sent in to be flushed. This process cleans the tanks. The heavy metals are then sold back to the metals industry. Then you are issued a Certificate of Reclamation. This states that you have properly disposed of your waste by sending it back to a metals processor to be 100% recycled. This process takes away your "Cradle-to-Grave" liability. With Multi-Shifter you "Take Away the Grave". So, when the EPA comes calling you have documented proof of compliance.

Multi-Shifter Blue is "The New Green" In Battery Washing/Recycling