This week we’re sharing a list of water- and wildlife-friendly boat cleaners that you can make at home.
As we noted last week, South Carolina is home to over 500,000 boaters. What goes on the hulls and surfaces of their boats ultimately ends up in our creeks, rivers and estuaries. Harsh, toxic cleaners can be harmful to marine life and water quality.
“There are lots of products and options available that are less damaging to marine environments,” said Beatriss Calhoun, who does outreach for SCDNR’s Clean Vessel Act program. If purchasing commercial cleaners, Calhoun suggests that you carefully read the labels and ask questions about the safety of cleaning products before you buy. The safest cleaners are phosphate-free, biodegradable and nontoxic.
Fortunately, frequently rinsing your boat with freshwater and wiping it down with non-abrasive sponge can be very effective in minimizing the need for stronger cleaners.
Calhoun adapted the below list of homemade cleaners from a similar list compiled by Sailors for the Sea.
These options are not only safer for your family, our waterways, and wildlife – they’re also extremely inexpensive to make. And they rely on supplies you likely already have at home: baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and salt.
Let us know in the comments if you have experience or suggestions for using these cleaners!
Alternative Boat Cleaners
|Instead of …||Use…|
|Detergents and soap||Water, clean sponges, and elbow grease|
|Scouring powders||Baking soda paste|
|Floor cleaner||One cup white vinegar in two gallons of water|
|Window cleaner||One cup vinegar in one quart warm water, rinse and squeegee|
|Head cleaner||Pour in baking soda and clean with a brush|
|Shower cleaner||Wet surface, sprinkle on baking soda rub surface with a
|Aluminum cleaner||Two tablespoons cream of tartar in one quart hot water|
|Copper cleaner||Lemon juice and salt|
|Brass cleaner||Worcestershire sauce or paste made of equal parts salt,
vinegar and water; rinse thoroughly
|Chrome cleaner/polish||Apple cider vinegar to clean; baby oil to polish|
|Fiberglass stain remover||Baking soda paste|
|Drain cleaner||Disassemble or use a plunger and/ or a plumber’s snake;
toxic substances should not be used on a thru-hull drainor…
Vinegar and baking soda
|Mildew remover||Paste using equal parts of either lemon juice and salt, or
vinegar and salt
|Wood polish||Three parts olive oil and one part white vinegar; almond or
olive oil (interior unvarnished wood only)
|Hand cleaner (for removing sticky substances)||Baby oil or margarine|
A Related Lesson Plan for Teachers
The Estuaries 101 Curriculum offers dozens of lesson plans and activities designed to help educators bring science into the classroom. In this activity, chosen by SCDNR educator Julie Binz to complement this blog post, students play water quality limbo to learn the ways we impact our estuaries and how we can help keep water clean.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.