Cleaning your trailer isn’t a glorious job, but it’s a necessity. Cleaning keeps trailers looking great and extends their lifespan. Most of the supplies you’ll need are available at the local auto parts stores. Chrome wheel polishing kits, Armor-All, and brushes and sponges that won’t damage the exterior finish can all be picked up relatively inexpensively.
The most difficult part of routine cleaning can be execution. At the end of every trip, it’s important to remove manure, wet bedding and dropped feed. Even if you don’t have time to sweep the entire floor, clean out wet spots and manure. Soiled bedding and manure can contribute to a weakened floor over time. Keep a muck bucket in the trailer or store a wheelbarrow near to your trailer storage area to make it quick and easy to clean up at the end of a trip.
If weather permits, hose out the trailer to remove urine, which can deteriorate wood or aluminum floors.
Trailers with separate tack rooms and living quarters will require additional cleaning for those spaces. The cleaning tips offered below are for the horse compartment of the trailer.
The first step is to remove everything. Take out hay bags, extra shavings, tool boxes, etc. That includes any items stored in a gooseneck space that is not partitioned off with a wall.
Sweep the floor and remove the mats. Brad Heath of Double D Trailers in North Carolina recommended mixing one part bleach with 10 parts water and applying it to every flat surface to disinfect.
“Pay close attention to the cracks where the floor meets the wall, joints at doors and other spots where your trailer tends to accumulate debris,” he said.
Let the cleaner stand for at least 10 minutes so that it has time to kill any bacteria. While the cleaner sets, move on to the floor mats. Scrub each mat starting at the top left corner and moving to the bottom right corner, he said. Having that pattern will ensure that you clean each mat thoroughly.
Once the cleaner has set on the interior of the trailer, slightly raise the front end or park on a hill so that it drains out the back, Heath said. Use a hose with a steady pressure nozzle or a power washer to rinse. Follow the same process on the mats.
Allow the trailer to dry completely prior to restocking. Once the trailer is dry, inside and out, Heath recommended sprinkling a layer of baking soda on the floor prior to replacing the mats. “This acts as an anti-acidic and helps neutralize your horse’s urine so it doesn't do as much damage to your trailer floor,” he said.
Don’t forget the outside of your trailer when you are cleaning. Washing and waxing the exterior once or twice a year extends the trailer’s longevity. A thorough exterior cleaning also gives you a chance to inspect hinges, latches, window frames and other components for wear and tear.
Keeping your trailer clean will not only make you feel better about the care you are taking of your horses, but it will lengthen the life of your horse trailer. Pay attention to flooring and hinges/latches to ensure they are working properly.