Gathering our whole cleaning arsenal, we suited up in hats, swimsuits and sun-shirts and headed for the deck.
|Rust and other grime|
With the daunting prospect of cleaning every inch of our 45 ft. home... we are all for reducing the amount of elbow grease required. I got started on the deck using the lemon juice. I could easily apply it with a sponge and it wouldn't just run off. Bruce took the Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner to the spots where the rust had left tracks down the side beneath the scuppers.
It was a miracle! The rust just rubbed right off! My excitement carried me right to the computer where I would share this newfound trick with my Facebook Page Friends. BUT...
Very soon, I received a comment from a long-time Cruiser, whose opinion I value highly, about the use of caustic chemicals on boats and their direct affect on the environment. (sound of wheels screeching to a stop) Wait... What??? Oh crap! I forgot! Yeah... the environment!
Here I am making my own laundry soap and DIY insect repellant, all in an attempt to both lessen our negative impact on the aquatic environment and the harm to ourselves... not to mention saving lots of $$$... and without a second thought, here we are... happily rinsing this poison right into the water!!!
Well of course I instantly removed the post hoping that not too many people got a look at it and thus reducing any possible far-reaching impact my shameful behavior could cause. But then the wheels began to turn in my head. Exactly HOW harmful is Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner to the aquatic environment??? Lets just go and look it up. I went to my favorite source for All-Things-Environmental... and found this information on Environmental Working Group's website.
I was off the hook! The product wasn't a major threat to the environment after all! (Insert sound of Angels singing here) I felt much better. But... that Cruiser friend mentioned earlier and I had a talk about this and she pointed out the fact that, although EWG is a wonderful resource, they assume that the products will be used in the manner for which they were marketed... in this case, cleaning toilets. The chemicals will be flushed through the public sewer system and run through a water treatment plant before being returned to the water. My use of the product in a non-traditional way, and this close to the water are not really addressed here... So given the choice of using a little more elbow grease and some lemon juice vs. the miracle of instant gratification at the cost of potentially damaging the environment... I know which one I'll choose. Guess we can strike Lysol Toilet Bowl cleaner off the grocery list...
|The ICW Beard remains...|
During all of this time, scrubbing endlessly and mindlessly... I had a chance to think about the OTHER cleaners I've been making. I began to wonder if THEY (most importantly BORAX) were really as environmentally friendly as I thought.
So I looked it up... worried that I wouldn't like what I found. I've been using a combination of Dawn Dishwashing soap, vinegar and Borax for washing the deck. In fact, I've been using Borax and Tea Tree Oil in most of my general purpose cleaner and my laundry soap as well! PLEASE don't let Borax and Tea Tree Oil be bad!!!
The answer is not as easy as I had hoped. For washing the deck, I found that many boating resources DO approve of the use of both lemon juice AND Borax as a safe and environmentally friendly alternative to costly and potentially unsafe chemicals.
BUT... my go-to resource for all things Environmental... EWG has some conflicting information. This led me to a more broad search which muddied the waters even more. Long story short (I know, as usual that ship has sailed :))... Although Borax is a natural substance, it CAN have some harmful effects on the body if used in an unsafe manner. It can also have a harmful effect on some types of aquatic life when large concentrations of it are present.
Unfortunately, when I ran the other ingredients through the EWG search, most of them came back with more of a negative environmental impact than I had believed they would. THIS IS BAD! So what should we do???
|That same spot from before... now clean!|
For me, I'm applying the All-Things-In-Moderation principal and will continue to use Borax, dish soap and Tea Tree Oil for cleaning our boat... but in moderation and of course, taking proper personal precautions (wear gloves... an easy one here since Bruce is the Glove Nazi)
|OK a LOT more elbow grease!|
Lucky for us... we have the time to apply that little bit of extra ELBOW GREASE.. Which incidentally, studies show to pose NO adverse impact to the environment...