By Mark King

When Canada first adopted a license requirement for boaters back in 1999, cleanliness on the water was limited to talk about holding tanks, pump outs, and not polluting our waterways.

Since then, cleaning has taken on more significance in Canada’s safe boating literature. The Safe Boating Guide published by Transport Canada now contains several pages about boat cleanliness and includes some popular formulas to mix your own cleaners – cleaners that will not harm the environment.

Why should we care about how clean our boat is? Just as a regular maintenance and inspection program ensures your boat and its gear are in top notch mechanical shape, a clean boat is much more pleasant to use and enjoy. As well, keeping the boat clean with a small amount of work through the season will pay off in the spring or fall when you are getting the boat ready or putting it away for the winter.

Following is a list of some common environmentally friendly cleaners and some specific uses for them. Some of these are included in the Safe Boating Guide, others are popular cleaners used around the globe.

 All-purpose cleanser. Mix 30 ml of baking soda or borax, 30 ml of tea tree essential oil, 125 ml of vinegar, 15 ml of biodegradable dish soap and 2 litres of hot water. Spray on the surfaces you plan to clean.

Fibreglass. Combine a 50/50 ratio of white vinegar and water and spray on fibreglass surfaces and wipe away with a soft microfiber towel.

Deck. Pressure wash, or scrub the surface of the deck with water to loosen dirt and grime. Fill a tub of warm water, combine with 2 cups of vinegar and ½ cup baking soda. Scrub with a long handed hard bristle brush and rinse.

Chromium. Scrub with baking soda. Rinse and polish with some vinegar in hot water.

Sole (floor). Pour 250 ml of vinegar in 2 litres of water.

Drain. Pour 60 ml of baking soda in the drain, followed by 60 ml of vinegar. Let it rest for 15 minutes, then pour in a full kettle of boiling water.

Pour 250 ml of vinegar in 2 litres of water. Pour through drain. Pour 60 ml of baking soda in the drain, followed by 60 ml of vinegar. Let it rest for 15 minutes, then pour in a full kettle of boiling water.

Mold. Add 60 ml of borax and 30 ml of vinegar to 500 ml of hot water. Spray the mixture.

Head. Pour 125 ml of baking soda and 125 ml of vinegar into the toilet bowl. The foaming reaction cleans and deodorizes. Brush and flush.

Interior windows and mirrors. Mix 2 ml of liquid soap, 45 ml of vinegar and 500 ml of water in a spray bottle. Use a cotton rag to clean and shine.

Windshield.  Watermarks on the windshield can be kept at a minimum by keeping a spray bottle of the ultimate window cleaner on hand. Mix ¼ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup isopropyl alcohol, 2 cups water and 10 drops essential oil.

Leather seats. Make yourself an effective leather cleaner by mixing ½ cup warm water, ¼ cup vinegar and 10 drops of eucalyptus oil.  Apply to leather seats to clean and rejuvenate.

Vinyl seats and vinyl. Mix 70 per cent water and 30 per cent white vinegar to make a good all-purpose vinyl siding cleaner. This solution removes less stubborn mold or mildew. To mix up a more potent solution, combine 1/3 cup of powdered laundry detergent, with 2/3 cup powdered household cleaner, than add 1 quart of liquid laundry bleach and one gallon of water.

Carpets. Borax is not only for the laundry, it is a great natural cleaning agent for carpet.  Spray water on stained areas and sprinkle with borax.  Lay a damp towel over the area and begin blotting to lift stains.

Stainless steel. Eucalyptus oil has fantastic antibacterial cleaning properties and is a great deodorizer.  Shine and polish stainless steel by adding a few drops to a cloth and rub.

Wood polish. Mix 30 ml of edible linseed oil, 30 ml of vinegar and 60 ml of lemon juice in a glass container. Rub the solution into the wood with a soft rag until it is clean. To store the solution, add a few drops of vitamin E from a capsule and cover.

Bilge. It is illegal to dump oily waste into the water. Bilge cleaners, even the biodegradable ones, only break down the oil into tiny, less visible droplets. Absorbent bilge cloths help because they are designed to absorb petroleum products and repel water. To help keep bilge pollution at a minimum ensure your bilge is clean before you turn on bilge pumps and only use them when needed and when the bilge contains only water. You can use towels or bilge cloths to absorb oils, fuel, anti-freeze and transmission fluid. Dispose of used towels or bilge cloths in an approved garbage container.