Green Boating Guide

Reduce the use of toxic cleaners

Dish soap, bilge cleaner and many other marine cleaning products that go down your boat’s drains or out your scuppers are harmful to fish and other marine life. These products go untreated into the water and stay there. Use certified ecological products or vinegar and water, with a healthy dose of elbow grease.

Oil, fuel, antifreeze and other fluids collect in the bilge and are then pumped overboard, often by automatic pumps. Bilge cleaners, degreasers and soaps — even biodegradable ones — increase harmful effects. These cleaners spread the pollution over a greater volume of water, harming greater numbers of fish and other marine life.

Oil absorbing pads soak up the oil in your bilge, but not the water. These pads are very effective at keeping your bilge and the environ¬ment clean. When the pads are saturated, use gloves and wring out the oil into a container for recycling. Re-use the pad.


  • Use the Environmental Choice or Green-Seal ecologo symbols as a guide to less harmful products.
  • Read labels and look for non-toxic, chlorine-free, phosphate-free products.
  • Minimize your use of soaps and detergents.
  • Never use chlorine bleach or products containing chlorine.
  • Choose all soaps and detergents carefully, and use the minimum amount necessary.

Choosing environmentally friendly cleaning products can be confusing. In Canada, manufacturers don’t have to substantiate claims such as “green” or “environmentally friendly”. If you are buying cleaning products, here are some better alternatives:

Decks/Hatches - 1 part vinegar to 8 parts water
Fibreglass - Baking soda and salt (in wet paste)
Aluminium - 1 tbsp. cream of tartar in 1/2 litre hot water
Brass - Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and salt solution
Chrome - Vinegar and salt solution
Chrome/Metal  - Polish with baby oil
Copper -  Lemon juice and salt solution
Clear Plastic/Glass -  1 part vinegar to 2 parts water
Mildew -  Vinegar and salt solution or tea tree oil
Wood (interior) -  Polish with olive oil
Bleaching -  Hydrogen peroxide bleach (NOT chlorine bleach)
Scouring -  Baking soda and water paste
Hair -  Baby shampoo (phosphate-free & pH balanced)
Shower/Toilet -  Wet area & scour with baking soda
Hands -  Baby oil to remove grease or paint Margarine or use organic citrus extract based
Dishes - Use minimal amounts of dish soap. Choose non-petroleum based soaps (eg. Nature Clean)

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