Green Houseboat Upkeep

June 2019 Multimedia Jane Willow

Each year the US dumps 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste into our water. This water is what we thrive and depend on, with many of us even calling it home. Therefore, it is important to try to combat pollution to our land and water throughout our daily lives. Whether your houseboat is on the water or docked, simple steps in selecting cleaning options can be of great benefit for the health of people, boats, and the environment at large.

Limit The Chemicals

Before cleaning your boat, keep in mind the type of products you will be using. Try to substitute chemical household cleaners with ones that are eco-friendly. Chemical ingredients such as formaldehyde and ammonia, often found in cleaning products, have been found to have harmful effects on humans if exposure is excessive. They can lead to allergies, birth defects, and even cancer. Unfortunately, just because a product is labeled as eco-friendly or natural, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. The use of claims such as "non toxic"or “green” is not regulated. So it is better to stick with cleaning agents you know are safe like water, baking soda, vinegar and good old elbow grease.

All Hail Baking Soda

Baking soda is not often added to commercial cleaning supplies, but it can do wonders for a variety of cleaning tasks in a more environmentally friendly way. Pouring baking soda on oil stains or teak for 20 minutes can remove stains and and deodorize the area. To take care of hard water stains, make a paste consisting of one tablespoon of baking soda and one tablespoon of toothpaste. You can scrub the stains out using a damp cloth. If you have carpet with an odor, you can fix this problem without using toxic chemicals. Sprinkling baking soda on it and letting it sit for 15 minutes before vacuuming is a great eco-friendly way of keeping any carpeted areas fresh.  

Green Exterior Cleaning

In contact with a variety of weather and natural elements, the exterior of your houseboat can deteriorate quickly if not properly cared for. There is boat soap that is specially designed to limit damage to a boat's finish, and some are less toxic and are also biodegradable. On the other hand, there are alternative options which take the guesswork out of whether your product is actually safe. When focusing on cleaning the hull, you can create a mixture of one part vinegar and one part warm water as a cleaner. Using a gentle bristle brush, you can scrub the dirt and grime away. If this is too gentle, adding a cup and a half of baking soda to a gallon of warm water will do the trick. For the windows, interior and exterior, the use a mixture of vinegar/lemon juice and water as a great alternative to glass cleaner.

By taking the time to clean and maintain your houseboat, your home will be left shining. To take it a step further, cleaning with green products will keep not only your houseboat clean, but the environment cleaner as well, limiting the amount of chemicals that may contaminate the land and water you are living on. This will ensure the longevity and health of your home on the water.

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