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Cleaning On Board


When you clean your boat, your dishes, or yourself onboard, your cleaning products could end up in the water. Products used on boat hulls and decks often contain microplastics, chlorine, ammonia, potassium hydroxide, and solvents, all potentially harmful to the aquatic environment.


Detergents containing phosphates (such as washing-up liquids and laundry detergents) can lead to nutrient enrichment causing algal blooms and oxygen depletion, causing localised suffocation of aquatic life.


Other products, such as degreasers, can dry the natural oils that fish need for their gills to function properly. Many cleaning products also contain chemicals which can disrupt the reproductive cycle of fish, invertebrates and amphibians.


In addition, for inland waterways the Canal and River Trust Terms and Conditions for Boat Licences requests that phosphate-free detergents are used on board, particularly in washing machines and dishwashers.


  • Choose more environmentally sensitive products, avoiding chlorine and bleach which are toxic to flora and fauna, and phosphates which encourage algal growth.


  • When cleaning your boat on the water it is recommended that you use fresh water only


  • Minimise the amount of soaps and detergents used in onboard sinks, showers, and washing machines


  • Waxing your hull keeps you fuel efficient and reduces the need for cleaning products over the season
  • Use non-toxic solutions wherever possible, water and elbow grease are great!


  • Avoid exfoliating cleaning products that contain plastic microbeads. Check the ingredients list and avoid products containing ‘Polyethylene’. Instead source more eco-friendly alternatives that contain natural ingredients.


  • If you have a washing machine onboard, use a detergent-free product.


Boat Users


Green Products
& Services

Related Resources

The Green Guide to
Outboard Efficiency

Stop The Spill
(Inland) Oil and Fuel

Stop The Spill
(Coastal) Oil and Fuel

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