Less Toxic Products
Whether you clean your boat in the water or on land, boat cleaning products may end up in your local waterway. The products you purchase to clean and maintain your boat can have an adverse effect on aquatic life, water quality and human health. Many boat cleaning and maintenance products contain chemicals that are poisonous, corrosive, flammable and/or chemically reactive.
When you purchase boat cleaning products, take time to read the label. A signal word, such as “danger/poison,” “warning,” or “caution” can give you a general indication of the toxicity of a product. If you want more information on a product’s contents, ask your retailer or contact the manufacturer for the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). The MSDS will list any constituents considered to be hazardous substances by the federal government. .” Avoid products with ingredients known to cause cancer or reproductive harm as listed in California’s Proposition 65: see a complete, updated Proposition 65 list.
If you decide to purchase a soap to clean your boat, choose phosphate-free non-detergent soaps, such as vegetable or citrus-based soaps.
Check these Systems to Find Less Toxic, Less Volatile, More Biodegradable Products.
How to be a less toxic consumer:
Reduce your use of toxic cleaning products:
- Use elbow grease instead!
- Use less toxic alternatives whenever possible.
- Buy only the amount that you need.
- Properly handle and store materials.
- Dispose of hazardous waste legally and safely.
- Call (800) CLEANUP for the locations of used oil recycling and hazardous waste disposal facilities.
Please check the following purchasing guide. This guide contains:
- What to look for on product labels
- Toxic ingredients to avoid
- How to clean with less
Alternatives to Traditional Cleaning Products
You can minimize environmental impacts by using the following simple household alternatives to harmful products:
|Product||Household Alternative||General cleaner||
||Head and shower||
||Stainless steel cleaner||
||Fiberglass stain remover||
||Wood Preservatives and stains||
*While baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and vegetable oils are far less harmful than bleaches, scouring powders and detergents, they can still be toxic to aquatic life. Use all cleaning products sparingly and minimize the amount discharged into the water. Never dispose of any cleaning products down the thru-hull drain; dispose of them on shore!
These alternatives have not been tested by either the California Coastal Commission or the California Division of Boating and Waterways. They are offered as suggestions. The sources that were relied upon to develop these suggestions are cited below.
- Center for Marine Conservation, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, “Tips to Keep Your Boat in Top Shape.”
- Flynn, A. A. and Rory E. Kessler. 1992. “A Consumer Guide to Safer Alternatives to Hazardous Household Products.” Take Me Shopping. Department of Planning and Development, Santa Clara County, p. 33.
- HometownAnapolis.com, Boat Cleaning Tips, 2000. http://www.capitalonline.com/parks/boating.html
- Gordon, Miriam. 1996. Marin County’s Guide to Environmentally Sound Practices in the San Francisco Bay and Delta,” Marin County Hazardous and Solid Waste Management Authority.
- Maryland Clean Marina Initiative. 2000. “Vessel Cleaning and Maintenance.” http://www.dnr.state.md.us
Be a clean & green boater
| Top 10 Boating Tips
| Marina Oil/Sewage Services
| Dockwalkers' Program