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10 tips for cleaning items for shipping abroad

Posted by By Bournes International Moves - November 19, 2014

Shipping your goods is one of the major focal points of any international move – but even if you've got a removal company coming in to do the hard work for you, there are still preparations you need to make for yourself.

One of the most important things you can do to help your items arrive safely and clear customs at your new destination quickly is, in fact, one for the most simple: cleaning items for shipping. It might sound like common sense, but the time and money wasted by people who fail to clean certain items of their shipment properly is phenomenal.

So what sort of things do you need to be aware of when cleaning your items for shipping?

  1. It all depends on where you’re emigrating to. Each country will have its own set of customs regulations that you’ll need to adhere to and some are stricter than others, so rule number one is to check these out first. This is something that your removal company might even be able to help with, so always ask if you’re not quite sure where to start.
  2. As a general rule, dirt is the enemy. Anything that has or regularly still comes into contact with mud, dirt or soil needs to be cleaned until it’s spotless. Literally. Some of the things to consider include bikes, garden tools, sports equipment, garden furniture, children’s outdoor play equipment (trampolines, Wendy houses, paddling pools, etc) and lawn mowers. And don’t forget about things that are used outside but live indoors – things like golf clubs, tent pegs, wellington boots and fishing tackle – even the soles of regular outdoor shoes need to be sparkling clean.
  3. Don’t forget your car. If you’re shipping yours, then it will need to be immaculate inside and out – particularly where tyres are concerned as they might be harbouring hidden dirt. Take some of the pressure off by getting yours professionally valeted a couple of days before your move.
  4. Animal hair is also a big no-no. Make sure you wash and vacuum all pet bedding and clean any grooming equipment thoroughly prior to packing it.
  5. And speaking of the vacuum, if you’re taking yours then it needs to be emptied thoroughly and completely free of dust and dirt before shipping. The same goes for any brooms, dust pans and brushes or waste bins that you’ll be taking.
  6. Going back to your outdoor items, you also need to make sure that you remember to drain all standing water/empty any petrol or diesel from machinery or equipment. Do this prior to cleaning to prevent any transference or spillage.
  7. If you’re wondering how best to clean your items then good old fashioned hot soapy water will suffice when removing the initial dirt. Follow this up with some disinfectant (Jeyes fluid or Milton are popular) to kill off anything left over, or if you have a steam cleaner then use where appropriate. For soles of shoes/bike tyres or anything else with tread or that’s awkward to clean then an old toothbrush and some steralising fluid will do the job – just makes sure you’re thorough and leave nothing behind.
  8. If you’re shipping any timber items from the garden then it’s important to check there are no signs of infestation. Any sawdust-like powder, fresh holes that weren’t there when you bought the item, chewed sections or tunnels are good indications that the timber has been infested, which leaves you with two options depending on how badly affected the item is – either leave it behind completely and dispose of it, or treat it thoroughly in good time prior to shipment.
  9. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can get away with not bothering to clean items in your shipment; as any reputable removal company will explain when they conduct your move consultation, failing a customs inspection is not only expensive, but it will also hold up the transit of your shipment. And no one needs that. Customs inspections are entirely random, so there’s every chance your shipment will get pulled - therefore it's far better to pack with the mind-set that yours will get pulled, rather than it won’t. If it does, then you (or your agent) will be required to make an inspection appointment whereby the contents of your container will be unpacked and inspected by a customs officer.
  10. If nothing concerns the inspector enough to put it into quarantine then your goods will be released and you will then need to make arrangements for their onward transit to your destination. However, if items are found which cause concern and the inspector puts them into quarantine, then your only options will be (at your expense) to either treat them, destroy them or ship them back home.

For lots more helpful advice and tips on moving internationally, check out our blogs and dedicated removal pages.

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Topics: International Removals, Preparing for an international move

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