Eco-Friendly Boating: Discovering the Best Natural Cleaners

Eco-Friendly Boating: Discovering the Best Natural Cleaners for Your Boat

With climate change and its adverse effects on wildlife growing more apparent with each passing year, we must do what we can to minimize our impact on the environment. An easy place to start? The marina! Whether you keep your watercraft moored at the docks or stored on dry land, the cleaning products you use to maintain your boat ultimately end up in the water. Many of these products contain chemicals that are corrosive, poisonous, or flammable, so it’s important that you’re using green alternatives, whether they’re purchased or household alternatives that you mix up yourself!

All-natural boat cleaners are what we at Clean Boat US specialize in, so to help better educate our customers, we’ve created this introductory guide to eco-friendly boating. Read on to discover what you can do to protect our marine life and ecosystem while still keeping your craft spick and span.

Household Options

Rather than combing through hundreds of products with vague or misleading labels and claims, one of the easiest ways to go green is to use basic household items that you can easily find at any grocery store if you don’t have them in your pantry already. The most frequently used ones include:

  • Baking soda: Dissolves dirt and grease, but can be damaging to certain metals, particularly aluminum. Slightly abrasive and mildly alkaline. Neutralizes odors.
  • Vinegar: Dissolves dirt, debris, and grime. Kills certain pathogens (usually ones that cause foodborne diseases). Not a disinfectant. Acidic.
  • Borax: Gets rid of stains, mold, and mildew. Alkaline. Neutralizes odors.
  • Lemon juice: Dissolves dirt, debris, and grime. It is antibacterial but is not a disinfectant. Acidic.
  • Cream of tartar: Similar to baking soda, but less abrasive. Mildly acidic.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: Natural disinfectant. Antibacterial and antiviral.
  • Salt: Gentle scouring agent. Boosts the cleaning and deodorizing effects of other ingredients.

All stocked up? Let’s take a look at some ways you can put them to use!

General Cleaners

  • Warm water, baking soda, and white vinegar in a 2:1:2 ratio.
  • One cup of borax with ¼ cup of lemon juice.

Surface Cleaners

  • One quart of hot water, one teaspoon of vegetable oil-based soap or detergent, one teaspoon of borax, and two tablespoons of vinegar. The vinegar will cut grease, while the borax acts as a water softener to help prevent soapy deposits.
  • One quart of warm water with one cup of vinegar.
  • Dissolve ½ cup of baking soda with hot water.


  • One cup of borax with ¼ cup of lemon juice.


  • Dissolve ½ cup of baking soda with hot water.


  • One tablespoon cream of tartar with one quart of hot water.


  • Worcestershire sauce.
  • Paste made of equal amounts salt, vinegar, and warm water.


  • Equal parts lemon juice and water.
  • Paste made of equal amounts lemon juice, salt, and flour.

When using any of these suggestions, remember to use all of them sparingly to minimize discharge into the water and avoid any accidental damage to your boat. Some of these items are still toxic to aquatic life, so never dispose of them down the thru-hull drain; wait until you’re on shore.

Product Options

Need additional, pre-made all-natural boat cleaners to really get the job done? Here are some suggestions for choosing manufactured cleaning products:

  • Look for products that are water- or citrus-based.
  • Avoid products that contain methylene chloride, which is known to cause cancer in lab animals.
  • Look for products that are phosphate-free and non-detergent, e.g. vegetable- or citrus-based options.
  • Use products that are diluted in water and be sure to follow the instructions for doing so. Those that are directly applied to your craft are typically much, much more toxic.

Clean Smarter, Not Harder!

When looking for cleaners, always do your research to make sure the claims on the packaging are accurate and reliable. Remember: elbow grease is always the number-one secret to a clean, well-maintained boat. Need some guidance? Contact us at Clean Boat US today!
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