Going Green on the Inside

18 September 2009 By Di Thompson

Interior cleaning duties need not be a chemical-laden chore, thanks to some of the latest environmentally friendly products on the market today. However, you need to know what’s in the products you are using and follow the instructions on the (recycled) packaging.

Luxury yachts have the most expensive finishes and soft furnishings known to man. It is all too easy to become carried away with wanting to save the earth when shopping for cleaning products – but safe for the environment does not always mean safe for a $40 million dollar superyacht.

Interior crew are expected to take special care of high-maintenance décor by preventing any possible damage and providing the best possible cure if something unfortunate does occur. In fact, two stews I know go by the nicknames Prevention and Cure because they are so good at what they do. A dynamic duo, they work on board luxury yachts in Australia and around the world. Prevention and Cure are all for using environmentally friendly products – but only after doing a little research on them first.

Prevention warns, “The supermarket is flooded with green labels that all claim to be the best. However, with the types of surfaces and fabrics that yacht crew are responsible for, it pays to do some homework.”

“Most people would be surprised to learn that even products with labels stating they are safe for the environment may still contain potent chemical ingredients that, in a short time, can damage the expensive materials frequently used on luxury yachts. Some environmentally friendly products will leave a sticky film on a surface,” says Cure. “Always read the labels and [if ever in doubt] seek advice from manufacturers.” She also advises going to an online forum (such as for feedback and asking around the marinas to see if anyone has experience with a particular surface or fabric cleaner.

Products like laundry powder or dishwashing liquid, as well as most soap, can contain chemical compounds even when advertised as “green.” Look for alternatives like the Australian-made Earth Choice line, which includes a dishwashing liquid with a technology system called ECOSYN. Composed of a combination of ecological ingredients that are “synergistically empowered,” it is grey-water safe, according to the label. With a little searching, you can also find biodegradable products and organic, plant-derived concentrates that reduce chemical waste.

Simple Green, which has been around for more than 30 years, recently released a new range of products called ‘Simple Green Naturals’ that are naturally derived, non-toxic cleaners and suitable for multi-purpose use on board.

You also may find that most vessel interior surface coatings require no more that a damp cloth wipe-over to remove dust. However, there will always be a food catastrophe or a dreaded red wine spill. This is where the most eco-friendly cleaning tip comes in – try hot water and a blotting cloth. Also, don’t forget that old standby, white vinegar for glass, mirrors and woodwork (test it on an inconspicuous area first). It may not smell so nice, but it does come from the grapevine.