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Boat project 1: Interior deep cleaning with natural products only

The little restyling of my sailboat Rex starts from deep cleaning of the interiors (Galley and V-Bert): main issue there? The boat was abandoned for a couple of years, resulting in mold, spiders, spiderwebs, and mosquitos everywhere.

Being a newbie in the field, I started searching the internet for the right cleaning products for boats. Oh Gosh, I noticed that these have dangerous chemical components to be released in such a small environment, apart from being quite expensive. I know that this is the classical way to go, but I wanted to try something different. I don't like the idea of keeping breathing chemicals while sleeping on the boat. Therefore I made an experiment, here documented. I have cleaned the interior of the sailboat using only natural products.

There are 3 sorts of surfaces to clean (wooden parts, aluminum, and plastic surfaces), all requiring different treatments. I selected the following products:

  • Vinegar

  • Baking soda

  • Tea Tree oil

  • Water

  • Beeswax

Magic potion one: plastic surfaces

I released the witch inside me (just kidding here) to mix the very first "magic potion" I have ever made to clean up plastic surfaces: vinegar, baking soda, and water (equal proportions) in a spray bottle. Mistake number one: if the baking soda is not adequately melted, it will never go out from the tiny holes of the spray bottle. So, in my case, the bottle just got broken.. you can do better than this, right? So, I forgot about the spray bottle and went to take a spoon to help spread the potion over a dishcloth, and it worked out.

The vinyl and plastic surfaces reacted really well to this treatment (see images). Still, I repeated the treatment three times to have it from black-dotted-dirty-yellow to super shiny white. I used cotton swabs impregnated with the "magic potion" to reach hidden corners or tiny miny sections covered with mold.

Magic potion two: wooden surfaces

I have used only vinegar, water, and some drops of the Tea tree oil (a natural and quite potent antifungal) to treat the wooden surfaces. Don't add baking soda to any wooden parts, as it will leave a white layer very difficult to remove (and you'll have a sort of dusty effect on the wood). To obtain a clean surface, it is advisable to repeat this treatment at least two times. Once all dried out (and the smell of vinegar disappeared), I applied some beeswax with the help of polishing drill discs for a shiny effect. It smells so good now.

Magic potion three: aluminum frames.

The aluminum hatch does not seem to have any signs of leakage, but it is covered in mold and spiderwebs. The same applies to the frames of all boat windows (3 in total). Here I had to do some additional research as there are different schools of thought on the internet. Some people say that applying vinegar to aluminum might change color (like burning it). Here I report of my direct experience only, and I must tell you: it works.

Vinegar and water are all you need. I managed to remove all the dirtiness after 1 hour of work.

All in all - I am pretty much satisfied with those magic potions; I managed to find an environmentally friendly way to clean the interior of the boat with less than 14,00 € in total.

What's next? Sailboat Rex needs some restyling to make her ready to spend a weekend onboard. It is a long list, but here is item number one. I have to add an Italian touch that I miss and make it more comfortable and functional: the pillow remaking project.

I'll post some more updates again in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned!


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