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How to Clean and Maintain Your Sprayer

 

Proper Cleaning and Maintenance of Sprayers

Help prolong the life of your equipment and prevent costly downtime. Follow a complete sprayer cleaning process to help decrease the risk of accidental exposure. And to avoid inadvertent application of pesticides to non-target or sensitive areas and plants.
 
 

 
Step-by-step sprayer cleaning process
 

 
 

Read. And Re-read.

Read the sprayer's instruction manual. Different sprayers may have care instructions specific to that sprayer. The manufacturer will have any important sprayer maintenance details explained in the manual.

Also read the labeling of the chemicals being used in the sprayer. The label and safety data sheet (SDS) will often contain information regarding any incompatible sprayer materials, recommended cleaning methods or decontamination products, personal protective equipment (PPE) required when dealing with the chemical, and proper disposal of residual product. Not near your label? Click here to look it up!
 

 

Wear the Right Gear

Always wear proper PPE as specified on the label of the chemical used. Not near your label? Click here to look it up!

Also wear a chemical-resistant apron as splashes are more likely during cleanup. It is a good idea to don PPE whenever handling a sprayer. Even a thorough cleaning of the sprayer cannot guarantee removal of all chemical residue.
 

 

Rinse Please

It is important to clean your sprayer, as well as any mixing and loading equipment, after use as well as any time you switch chemicals. Proper cleaning procedures help remove and neutralize any chemical residues left in or on the sprayer. A good cleaning program includes rinsing, decontaminating, and draining the complete sprayer setup.

Thoroughly rinsing the whole sprayer immediately after each day's use helps prevent residue build up as well as excess deterioration due to extended exposure to chemicals. Multiple rinses using small amounts of water are more effective at removing any chemical left behind than a single rinse using a tankful of water. Flushing the sprayer three times (triple rinsing) is a good guideline to follow to ensure the majority of residual chemical is removed.

Tank cleaners and other cleaning agents can help break down and remove pesticide residues from sprayers. These are especially important when switching chemicals. Decontaminating the sprayer with a cleaner after rinsing ensures the last chemical used doesn't inadvertently damage the next area or plants sprayed.

Here are some other points to keep in mind while cleaning a sprayer:
  • Be aware of where you are cleaning the equipment. Make sure you are far enough away from any sensitive areas where the chemical could cause problems. Don't repeatedly clean equipment in the same spot unless you use a containment pad.
  • Properly manage rinsate. Rinse equipment with clean water at the application site. The rinsate can then be applied to the site. If you use a containment pad, collected rinsate can be segregated and used as make-up water for other labeled sites as long as the final amount of chemical doesn't exceed what is allowed according to the label.
  • Triple rinse any pesticide storage containers as soon as they are emptied. This allows you to use the rinsate as makeup water for the current application or the next. Don't forget to rinse the cap, too. If containers are rinsed after application reserve the rinsate for use as makeup water for an application later. Once tripled rinsed, empty pesticide containers can typically be disposed of with regular waste. Check with your local waste disposal company to be sure you are disposing of them properly.
 
Rinsing Tools

Jet Rinse Triple Rinsing Tool
Meets EPA triple-rinsing requirements
Buy

3/4" TeeJet Rotating Tank Cleaning Nozzle
Ideal for rinsing when switching pesticides
Buy

Jet Rinse Triple Rinsing Tool
Meets EPA triple-rinsing requirements
Buy

3/4" TeeJet Rotating Tank Cleaning Nozzle
Ideal for rinsing when switching pesticides
Buy
 
Spray Tank & Nozzles Cleaners

GEMPLER'S 1-Gal. Spray Tank Cleaner
Does what plain water rinse cannot do
Buy

Fimco Tank Neutralizer and Cleaner -- 2-lb. Container
Safely cleans pesticides and residue from spray tanks
Buy

GEMPLER'S 1-Gal. Spray Tank Cleaner
Does what plain water rinse cannot do
Buy

Fimco Tank Neutralizer and Cleaner -- 2-lb. Container
Safely cleans pesticides and residue from spray tanks
Buy
 
 

 

Inspect Always

Regular inspection of your sprayer can you catch any potential problems and correct them before they become big problems that cause sprayer downtime. Inspecting components while you clean the sprayer is a good habit to develop that can save you some time. Key places to look over while cleaning include:
  • Valves: Make sure all function properly and close, fully stopping any flow.
  • Hoses: Replace any hoses with cracks or brittleness before leaks develop.
  • Line Strainer Screens: Again, remove any accumulated debris, and replace any strainer screens with visible damage. Look for any strainers with visible damage and replace as needed.
  • Nozzle and Spray Tip Strainers: Remove any accumulated debris caught in the strainer. Look for any strainers with visible damage and replace as needed.
  • Nozzles and Spray Tips: Check for any that appear mismatched or worn. Follow a calibration procedure to identify any that need to be replaced.
 

 

Proper Storage.

Before storing the sprayer for the off season, run RV antifreeze through the sprayer. Flushing and filling the sprayer plumbing with antifreeze before storage will remove any water left in the system that might otherwise freeze and cause damage. It will also coat and condition the inner components to prevent rusting of any metal pumps and fittings and drying and cracking of any rubber hoses and seals. When taking the sprayer out of storage drain the antifreeze and rinse out all components well with water.

Remove any delicate parts from the sprayer that might be easily damaged during storage. Nozzle tips and pressure gauges in particular should be removed and carefully cleaned. Store the tips and gauges in marked containers away from freezing temperatures. Cap any opeings left on the sprayer after removing the tips and gauges so that antifreeze remains in the plumbing lines.

Once winterized, store the sprayer indoors. If storing inside is not possible, find an area with the least amount of exposure to the elements.
 
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