How to Eliminate Toxic Pesticides and Chemicals from Shipping Container

Detox shipping container home

Methods to eliminate chemicals from shipping container

There are a number of things that need to be considered when using old shipping containers to build tiny homes. One of the more serious issues involves toxic chemicals used to prevent damage to the contents during shipping. Here you will learn how to eliminate chemicals from shipping container.

The floors of shipping containers have wood floors and they are often treated with a chemical sealant.

To help prevent bugs from causing damage the use of chemical pesticides is also common. There are a number of ways to remediate the interior of a shipping container to make it safe to be used as a base for a tiny home.

 Methods of Chemical Remediation of container

1. Encapsulate with paint

The easy way to eliminate the danger of exposure to any of the potentially toxic chemicals used inside shipping containers to prevent damage from pests is to completely coat the entire inside with a heavy coat of paint.

Step #1 Complete clean the interior of the shipping container with a power washer and let dry completely
Step #2 Select a good quality interior paint with primer
Step #3 Using a paint sprayer filled with the paint that you selected
Step #4 Carefully apply an even coat of paint on all necessary surfaces
Step #5 Let the paint dry over a couple of days

2. Remove the existing wood flooring and replace the wood flooring

The wood used in the flooring of a typical shipping container has to be treated to prevent damage caused by excessive moisture, saltwater and pests. Unfortunately, these chemicals are potentially toxic which can cause serious health concerns. So, with that said, to be safe, it is a really good idea to remove it.

Step #1 Determine the dimensions of the inside of the shipping container
Step #2 Purchase the lumber needed to completely fill the space where the old wood is being removed
Step #3 Using a circular saw begin making several cuts into the wood flooring to make it easier to remove the wood
Step #4 Using a long, sturdy pry bar to start removing sections of the wood on the floor
Step #5 Once all of the wood is removed, begin measuring the new boards to be used for the replacement flooring
Step #6 Secure each board in place to the bottom of the shipping container

Shipping Container-plywood-floor

3. Encapsulate the underlayment with a new subfloor and tile over it

An alternative to replacing the treated wood typically used in the flooring of shipping containers is to totally encapsulate the old flooring. By doing this you completely eliminate the concern of exposure to any of the toxic chemicals typically used in wood treatment. This is done by first completely covering the existing flooring with a layer of marine plywood. Then cover the underlayment with a ceramic tile.

Step #1 Determine the actual measurement of the inside of the container to figure out how much marine plywood you need – each sheet is 4’ x 8’
Step #2 Mark the sheets of plywood so that you can cut them with a circular saw
Step #3 Once you have each piece of plywood cut, apply a liberal amount of adhesive to the back of the board and place it snugly against the wall.
Step #4 Repeat with the remaining boards until the floor is completely covered
Step #5 After selecting what tile you want, put down a liberal amount of thinset (adhesive)
Step #6 Apply a coat of thinset to the back of the tile and place it on the floor and tamp it down until it is level
Step #7 Place a plastic spacer on each edge of the tile
Step #8 Repeat steps #5, 6, and 7, let set overnight
Step #9 Apply the grout to all of the edges of the tile
Step #10 Using a dampened sponge wipe the excess group from the tile and let set


Whichever method you use, your shipping container home will be toxins-free and safe to use. See more about flooring here!

4.  Sandblasting

The best way to clean shipping containers is through a process called sandblasting. Sandblasting involves blasting the interior and exterior of the container with high-pressure sand particles, which removes any surface contaminants. After sandblasting, the container should be thoroughly washed with a high-pressure hose and mild detergent to remove any remaining residue.

It is essential to engage the services of a professional sandblasting and cleaning company that specializes in cleaning shipping containers. This will ensure that the cleaning is done safely, efficiently, and thoroughly.

Toxin hazards:

The use of toxic pesticides and chemicals in the construction and maintenance of these homes can have harmful effects on human health and the environment. We will explore here the importance of eliminating toxic pesticides and chemicals from shipping container homes.

Human health

First and foremost, toxic pesticides and chemicals used in the construction of shipping container homes can have a negative impact on human health. Exposure to these chemicals can lead to a variety of health problems, including respiratory issues, skin irritation, and even cancer. Children, pregnant women, and those with pre-existing health conditions are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of these chemicals.


In addition to the potential health risks, toxic pesticides and chemicals used in shipping container homes can also harm the environment. These chemicals can leach into the soil and water, contaminating local ecosystems and harming wildlife. The use of these chemicals also contributes to air pollution, which can have far-reaching effects on the environment and public health.


Cleaning shipping containers of toxic chemicals is often a legal requirement. Many countries have strict regulations around importing and using containers that have been treated with hazardous chemicals. Failing to comply with these regulations can lead to legal issues and hefty fines.

General steps to eliminate chemicals from shipping containers

Use non-toxic materials

Fortunately, there are many ways to eliminate toxic pesticides and chemicals from shipping container homes. One way is to use non-toxic building materials, such as low-VOC paints and natural insulation materials. These materials are not only safer for human health and the environment, but they also provide better indoor air quality.

Organic pest control methods

Another way to eliminate toxic pesticides and chemicals from shipping container homes is to use organic pest control methods. This can include using natural insect repellents and traps, as well as incorporating plants that naturally repel pests into the landscaping around the home. By using these methods, homeowners can avoid the harmful effects of traditional pesticides while still keeping their home free of unwanted pests.

Proper disposal

Finally, it is important to properly dispose of any hazardous materials used in the construction or maintenance of shipping container homes. This includes properly disposing of paint, batteries, and other chemicals. By doing so, homeowners can prevent these hazardous materials from leaching into the soil and water and causing harm to the environment.

Bottom line on how eliminate chemicals from shipping container:

Eliminating toxic pesticides and chemicals from shipping container homes is important for both human health and the environment. By using non-toxic building materials, organic pest control methods, and proper disposal techniques, homeowners can ensure that their homes are safe and sustainable for years to come. Cleaning toxic pesticides and chemicals from shipping container homes is a crucial step in ensuring that they are safe and healthy to live in. By doing so, you are protecting yourself, your loved ones, and the environment. So, before converting a shipping container into a home, be sure to have it professionally cleaned and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are living in a healthy environment.

2 thoughts on “How to Eliminate Toxic Pesticides and Chemicals from Shipping Container”

  1. Hi, personally, I would like to keep the wood due to the nature of its unique characteristic. Could the wood be detoxed with some kind of wash or neutralizer? And, could it be tested first to see if it holds any dangerous elements?

    1. Hi Earle,

      Shipping Container Wooden Floor detoxification

      To some extent, the treated wood can be “detoxified”, but it is rather an “industrial”, well-controlled, high-temperature process, difficult to effectively apply at home. The truth is that we have to precisely know what chemicals (and proportions) are used during the treatment process, to select the antidote. It’s the basic requirement to successfully remove/neutralize toxins.
      Unfortunately, wood floors in shipping containers (on top of quite a well-defined treatment process), are also exposed to countless and potentially toxic substances when in service. And there is no generally accepted procedure to precisely evaluate the content of these “extra” toxins.

      First, you will have to find a trustworthy lab that can run such tests, provide a reliable report, then find the company that can “detoxify” the floor. And most likely you will have to remove it because the “in-situ” detoxification procedure most likely cannot fully guarantee the results).

      The bottom line – it is a costly process with unknown outcomes.

      So, if you would like to use the container as an inhabitable” space, you have to ask yourself the two most important questions regarding Emotional Needs versus potential Health Hazards:

      a) How much risk you can tolerate

      Note, that the biggest problem with toxins is the “physical contact” (can be minimized by eventual transparent surface coating) and inhalation of naturally “vaporized” toxins into the air. The latter effect is difficult to control (no efficient way guaranteeing 100% protection).

      b) How much you are willing to pay for it (time and $$$).

      c) Legal limitations (check what your local authority has to say about “Requirements/Permission for the Habitable Space”.

      Just as an example, attached is the link about the detoxification of the treated wood:

      Hope this helps!



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