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Environmentally-Friendly Boat Cleaning and Maintenance

Environmentally-friendly boat cleaning tips

Did you know that the volume of oil pollution entering our waters every year from recreational boating is estimated to be more than 15 times the amount of the Exxon Valdez spill?

This is because about 30 percent of all fuel and oil from boats ends up in the water.

Fish, shellfish, sea birds and other forms of aquatic life need a balance of nutrients, oxygen and clean water to survive, and even small quantities of toxic products in the water can disrupt this balance, with lasting harmful effects.

Here are some boat cleaning tips that can help reduce harmful effects: 

Keep a supply of oil-absorbant rags on board for spill cleanup of oil and fuel. Even small spills of oil can contaminate a large volume of water.

Properly dispose of used oil and filters.  Facilities are available to handle these elements which are toxic to the marine environment. In the US call 1 800 CLEANUP.

Keep used solvents separate from used oil.  Never mix wastes, or pour hazardous wastes down drains, on the ground or into surface waters.

A good coat of wax on a fiberglass hull prevents surface dirt from becoming engrained. This will reduce the need for detergents when washing the boat.

When washing your boat, limit dock side hull cleaning to the above water surface area only, from the boat stripe up. Use a sponge to remove growth without creating clouds of heavy metals caused by scrubbing. Rinse boat with fresh water.

Use non-toxic cleaners.  Many cleaning products contain phosphates and other chemicals that are toxic to aquatic ecosystems. Before using products with hazardous warning labels, try natural cleaners like vinegar.

Natural Boat Cleaning Recipes:

For fiberglass stains, make a paste of baking soda and water. Use a sponge or soft cloth and gently rub the mix into the stain. Also use paste to clean showers and heads. Use lemon or lime juice as a final wipe-down for a shiny, fresh-smelling finish.

For windows and mirrors,mix vinegar, lemon juice and warm water. Fill a spray bottle with the solution. Spray it on your windows and wipe with paper towels or newspapers.

To clean chrome,use apple cider vinegar on a soft cotton cloth. Use a fresh cloth with a dab of baby oil to restore it to a bright shine.

For brass,use a mix of Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and salt solution.

To clean copper fittings,make a paste of either lemon or lime juice and salt.

For stainless steel,clean with a cloth dampened with undiluted white vinegar.

To clean aluminum,use a soft cloth and a solution of cream of tartar and water.

For plastic surfaces,use a mixture of one part white vinegar and two parts warm water.

On decks,use a mixture of one part white vinegar and eight parts warm water.

Interior woodscan be cleaned by using olive oil or almond oil. The oil will provide natural moisturizers for the wood and add shine at the same time. Don’t use these oils on exterior surfaces, they won’t hold up in direct sun.

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