Greener Cleaners

29 June 2009 By Joanne MacKenzie

Keeping a superyacht super shiny requires a lot of detail cleaning. That can mean using – and being exposed to – a lot of toxic cleaners...or not. Today, many stews are looking for less toxic, “greener” alternative cleaning products for yacht interiors.

Chief Stew Theone Penn says the first thing she did when she joined a new yacht recently was to “get rid of all bleach-based products; mostly because they can damage marble.” Instead, she uses a small amount of dish soap. “It was the recommendation of a marble repair man,” she says.

Theone has found other less toxic alternatives as well. “I replaced the toilet cleaner with biodegradable toilet duck and alcohol and water for a disinfectant. I use a French cleaning alcohol (98 percent) that smells like lemons,” she says. “For stainless, again, alcohol with water. For wood, vinegar and water – I’ve been told by a wood repair man that it's all we should use as anything with chemicals weakens finish on the wood and as a result [it] is more susceptible to damaged. For the fog on glass that we struggle to get rid of, hot water followed by a dry rag and a microfiber. It takes a bit of labour to get rid of the residue, but after it becomes easier.”

She adds that she hasn’t researched it, but she has heard you absorb 60 percent of the chemicals you use, so she’s very aware of the products she uses on a daily basis.

Chief Stewardess Helen Austin also worries about exposure to toxic cleaners. She advises, “Always, always use gloves; that’s what I tell the girls. One of the products we use [is] so strong just smelling it. I can imagine what it does when you absorb it through your skin.”

Helen has been researching less toxic, greener products for interior cleaning. “We tried using eco-friendly paper towels, but they absorbed nothing and they were a waste in the end,” she says. “But if the products are less harmful, get the job done and don’t cost too much, I’m all for trying them.”

Chief Stew Bree Barling also recommends alcohol for cleaning. “I use it on everything and it doesn’t hurt anything. You get it in the automotive section. The one I use smells like vanilla.”

Recently, Bree tried using the Biowashball and dryer balls as an alternative to laundry detergent and fabric softener dryer sheets. The dryer balls look like spiky rubber dog toys and the Biowashball is a single plastic ball containing molecules that are activated by water to create a cleanser. “It worked well when we tried them on rags,” she says.

Stew Julie Arnold says her boat is trying to find less toxic cleaning products, but in addition, they’re trying to find more eco-friendly ways of dealing with the cleaners they do use. “We use the Seventh Generation stuff on the boat for laundry soap. And we recycle our plastic while we are in Fort Lauderdale – we use the compactor as a plastic storage holder, then have the captain take it to his house to be picked up with his recyclables,” she says. “We also keep some plastic bottles like Windex, etc., and we buy the little cartridges that you just put in the bottle and add water to refill [it] with … so hopefully it is less waste.”

Whether it’s in the laundry room or the main salon, interior crew are finding more ways to put a shine on things that are less toxic and more “green.”

Do you have any alternative cleaning products or solutions to recommend? Please share them below.