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Why you should regularly clean racking and steel shelving

A spring clean of your home or office is likely to mean relinquishing your shelving system of a few old, unwanted items - but how about a little maintenance of the shelving unit itself? It’s a task that’s easily overlooked, but just by spending a few minutes cleaning your shelves every few weeks, you’ll help to keep them strong and stable as well as spotless.

Here’s why. Racking systems (like our Rax Heavy Duty Shelving systems) combine a sturdy steel frame with melamine or chipboard shelves. Leaking liquids left to soak into these materials could cause them to split or warp over time, reducing their strength and lowering the maximum load weight they are able to carry.

If your shelving system is in your garage (perhaps storing paint pots and motor oils), it could be particularly susceptible to such leaks – so a quick check and clean-up every now and then is key to keeping your shelves at full strength.

Below you’ll find some quick tips on how to clean your shelves – whether they’re made from melamine, chipboard, steel or chrome.

Melamine shelves
Melamine is an exceptionally strong, light-weight material which makes it perfect for heavy-duty shelving. It can stain though, so might need the occasional wipe down to stay looking at its best. When you’re cleaning melamine shelves, bear in mind that heat isn’t melamine’s best friend (use nothing hotter than luke-warm soapy water), and be sure to avoid chlorine-based detergents as they can cause colour to fade.

Be wary of melamine foam erasers too. They’re made from melamine, not for cleaning melamine - and they would likely take the colour off your shelving unit as well as the stains!

Steel shelving units
The steel frames of our racking systems are blissfully low maintenance, and don’t require a great deal of cleaning at all. If the steel picks up mud or dirt from gardening tools or walking boots, some warm soapy water should be sufficient to remove it. Be sure to dry the shelving unit after cleaning though, as leaving the steel exposed to moisture could cause rusting over time.

Note that while our metal shelving systems are painted to maintain a bright, good-as-new appearance, chrome/wire shelves may require you to invest more time to keep them looking their best. Buying a liquid chrome cleaner would be a good idea, to prevent against rust and give the chrome its intended reflective shine.

Racking inspections
Last but by no means least, while you’re cleaning, take the opportunity to check that items are evenly distributed across your shelves. If your shelves are a little top heavy, or weighed down more heavily on one side, shuffle your items to redress the balance and ease the strain on the shelves. You’ll find a few more handy checks to perform in our recent article on racking inspections.