How to Clean and Maintain Your Boat in a Safe, Sustainable Manner
As a boat owner, one of the biggest responsibilities you have is to maintain your vessel so that it’s safe and enjoyable to use during the spring and summer months. But to properly clean and maintain, you also need to make sure you’re being environmentally friendly.
4 Green Tips for Boat Owners
Being a “green” boater isn’t something most people think about. You probably assume that since you’re doing the same things as everyone else, your boat cleaning and boat maintenance habits are safe and effective. But what if they’re not?
Every boat owner has different needs, but there’s almost always a safer and more effective way of doing things. The following tips will help you make smarter decisions:
1. Carefully Select Antifouling Paint
“Seasonal boat maintenance should include restoring the antifouling properties on your boat’s hull and bottom. This is true for every watercraft, from inflatables to pontoon boats,” Wholesale Marine explains. “However, be aware that boat bottom paint is not a one-type-suits-all proposition. The first step will be to determine which antifouling boat paint is right for your vessel.”
When it comes to antifouling your boat hull, you need to be especially cognizant of what product you’re using and how safe it is for the marine life that interacts with your boat. When buying antifouling paint, be sure to do your research and look for safe options that don’t contain deadly toxins.
2. Properly Dispose of Oil and Filters
As is the case with cars, lawnmowers, and other land equipment, you should properly dispose of your boat’s engine oil and filters when conducting this sort of maintenance.
If you’re at a marina or boatyard, chances are they have a designated area for disposal. If not, you can always locate a facility that’s fit to handle oil and filters by calling 1-800-CLEANUP.
3. Use the Right Boat Washing Techniques
There are plenty of commercial boat cleaning products on the market, but many of them are laden with chemicals and toxins. Thankfully, you can make your own cleaning products using a few natural ingredients and household items.
To take care of hard water stains, mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one tablespoon of toothpaste and scrub in with a damp cloth.
“When it comes time to clean the hull, you can mix one part white vinegar and one part warm water in a bucket,” suggests Susan Patterson, a sustainable living researcher. “Use a light bristle scrub brush to wash the hull before rinsing thoroughly. But, if this cleaner doesn’t do the trick, worry not! There is a heavy duty hull cleaner you can make with 1 ½-cups baking soda and a gallon of warm water in a bucket. Scrub with your brush just as before and rinse when you’re done.”
4. Recycle Parts and Materials
Whether you’re getting rid of an old boat or swapping out components on your current one, make sure you’re properly disposing of all parts and materials. We’ve already discussed engine oil and filters, but it doesn’t stop there.
Batteries, paint, antifreeze, cleaning products, and sewage all need to be disposed of or recycled properly. Otherwise, you could put the health and safety of you, your fellow boaters, and marine life at risk.
Stay Healthy and Safe
The average boater is well aware of boating safety rules – at least in regards to things like maintaining proper speed, having life preservers on board, and mooring to a dock. But boat safety is just as much about safe boat cleaning and maintenance habits. By paying attention to the selection of antifouling paint, proper disposal of oil and filters, boat washing techniques, and recycling, you can become a smarter and more sustainable boater who puts the environment first and has an enjoyable time on the water.