Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

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Many cleaning products are harmful to aquatic life, water quality and the overall ecosystem. Some chemicals damage fish tissues, while others create nutrient imbalances leading to algal blooms. Whether you clean your boat on land or in the water, the choice of product that you use is important. 

Research your cleaners

Manufacturers of chemical products are not required to list ingredients on their containers or make them public, so it’s important to take the time to do your research before you purchase a cleaning product. Labels on cleaners can be confusing and words like “natural”, “non-toxic”, “organic” or “biodegradable” are misleading because there is no regulation of the words’ use.

Which eco-friendly cleaners are best for your boat?

BoatU.S. Foundation tested 20 different “green” boat soaps to see if the products lived up to their environmental claims while still cleaning a vessel effectively. Interestingly, they found that the "greeness" of a cleaner did not impact its ability to clean.

Based on their research and weighing all the factors (cleaning, performance, toxicity and biodegradability), here are the top products:

1. Thetford Marine Boat Wash

2. Concrobium XT Eco-Wash

3. Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Boat Gel Wash

4. Shurhold’s Yacht Brite Wash

Make your own cleaning products

Here are some alternate cleaning recommendations. Remember that even these products should not be washed into the marine environment.

Which eco-friendly cleaners are best for below deck?

You can use the same environmentally friendly products that you use in your household. Here are some companies that produce eco-friendly cleaning products:

Think ahead when planning your cleaning routine. It’s important to keep wash liquids away from the water (See Graywater). Also, use rags and old clothes to clean, rather than disposable items like paper towels.

To ensure your that your cleaner is safe and eco-friendly, look to see if your cleaner is a part of these programs. 

  • The Environment Protection Agency’s Design for Environment (DfE) created the Safer Choice label, which means every ingredient in the product has been evaluated to ensure it meets EPA's stringent criteria. Additionally, the EPA creates partnerships with manufacturers to create products, whose ingredients are less toxic, less persistent (i.e. they biodegrade faster), less bioaccumulative (i.e. they do not build up in living tissue of humans or animals) and whose ingredent by products have similar characteristics. 
  • The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. EWG’s scientists compare the product ingredients, websites and worker safety documents with the information available in government, industry and academic toxicity databases and the scientific literature on health and environmental problems tied to cleaning products. They use that information to create EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, which provides you with easy-to-navigate safety ratings for a wide range of cleaners and ingredients.


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