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Old 02-28-2016, 07:55 AM   #1
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Bilge cleaning

I bought my boat last year and the bilge could use some cleaning. I was thinking about renting a steam cleaner. Is there anything I should be careful of when cleaning the engine and bildge with a steam cleaner? Any better ideas?
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Old 02-28-2016, 08:15 AM   #2
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I used one, saved me days on the job. If you are painting after the steam cleaning make sure you hit the surface with a strong degreaser for the final clean. The only precaution is you will create a epic amount of steam in the process I would be careful if electronics are in the area.
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:44 AM   #3
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If there is much oil in the bilge , besides your favorite brand of soap, we use simple green or Spic & Span , there is a chance that oil will still be in the mix.

To remove this oil we use a small 1/2 inch bilge pump on a stick, and a 3/4 garden hose to the galley sink.

The oil absorbent mats are used 6 thick in the sink , so with the slow delivery of the small pump you can capture most of the rest.
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Old 03-01-2016, 10:25 AM   #4
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FF, I like your sink oil filter. Very clever.
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Old 03-01-2016, 11:19 AM   #5
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If there is much oil in the bilge , besides your favorite brand of soap, we use simple green or Spic & Span , there is a chance that oil will still be in the mix. To remove this oil we use a small 1/2 inch bilge pump on a stick, and a 3/4 garden hose to the galley sink.

The oil absorbent mats are used 6 thick in the sink , so with the slow delivery of the small pump you can capture most of the rest.
Detergent cleaners emulsify oil, breaking the molecules apart. You no longer have an oil "slick." That's why it's common practice for people to pour Dawn or other dish washing liquid into an oil spill in the water...the oil molecules break up and sink, hiding the evidence. So using any detergent cleaner before using oil pads makes it impossible for the pads to separate oil from water. So unfortunately, Fred, the water that goes down the sink drain has as much oil in it as the water your bilge pads are soaking up...you just don't see any evidence of it in the water.

And that's why bilge pads should always be used to soak up the oil in the bilge, replacing as necessary until all the oil is removed, BEFORE using any cleaning products.
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Old 03-01-2016, 11:38 AM   #6
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Here's how I've tackled problem bilges in the past:

1. use pads to absorb as much oil as possible
2. shopvac water/oil left. dispose of where you dispose used oil.
3. use pads to scrub bilge and pickup as much residue as possible. use tools to extend reach if need be.
4. fill bilge with simple green and water. leave overnight
5. get simple green/water solution out and dry your new clean bilge.
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Old 03-01-2016, 11:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by No Mast View Post
Here's how I've tackled problem bilges in the past:

1. use pads to absorb as much oil as possible
2. shopvac water/oil left. dispose of where you dispose used oil.
3. use pads to scrub bilge and pickup as much residue as possible. use tools to extend reach if need be.
4. fill bilge with simple green and water. leave overnight
5. get simple green/water solution out and dry your new clean bilge.
Basically the same thing I do but i have switched from green to awesome cleaner I get it at the Dollar store
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Old 03-01-2016, 12:15 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Capt Mike View Post
I bought my boat last year and the bilge could use some cleaning. I was thinking about renting a steam cleaner. Is there anything I should be careful of when cleaning the engine and bildge with a steam cleaner? Any better ideas?
I don't think a steam cleaner is a good idea, you could damage something.

As others have posted, use oil absorbing products to get rid of the oil, then use a good detergent and brushes to finish the job.
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Old 03-01-2016, 12:29 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by No Mast View Post
Here's how I've tackled problem bilges in the past:
1. use pads to absorb as much oil as possible
2. shopvac water/oil left. dispose of where you dispose used oil.
3. use pads to scrub bilge and pickup as much residue as possible. use tools to extend reach if need be.
4. fill bilge with simple green and water. leave overnight
5. get simple green/water solution out and dry your new clean bilge.
You--and 90% of boat owners--are omitting the most important last step: Thoroughly flush ALL the dirty detergent/water solution out with plenty of clean water. You wouldn't just pull the plug on a sink or bathtub full of dirty soapy water and expect to have a clean sink or tub...why do so many boat owners think they can have a clean bilge by doing that?
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Old 03-01-2016, 01:21 PM   #10
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There are products advertised to clean the bilge by just pouring the product into the bilge, letting the wave action or the action of the boat in motion do the cleaning.


A few days later, you're supposed to pump the bilge dry and as if by magic, you now have a shiny clean bilge.


Do they work, and if so, how?


I always figured you would have to do some scrubbing.
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Old 03-01-2016, 01:25 PM   #11
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You--and 90% of boat owners--are omitting the most important last step: Thoroughly flush ALL the dirty detergent/water solution out with plenty of clean water. You wouldn't just pull the plug on a sink or bathtub full of dirty soapy water and expect to have a clean sink or tub...why do so many boat owners think they can have a clean bilge by doing that?
Fair enough,

step 6: Rinse
step 7: now optional (?) dry your new clean bilge
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Old 03-01-2016, 01:42 PM   #12
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In my current boat, I don't have any oil or fuel contaminants in the bilge. This makes cleaning the bilge very simple and easy, a little soap, brush, and fresh water. It also makes it so my bilge very rarely needs it.


The pan under the engine is a different matter. I have spilled a lot of oil there one time during an oil change. Lost of pads to get all visible traces of oil first, then soap and water to clean it. The water was disposed of off site where I dispose of my used oil. It was a major PITA. Still a lot easier than my old boat where spilled oil ended up in the bilge and so pads had to be first used to get the oil that was floating on the water in the bilge.
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Old 03-01-2016, 01:49 PM   #13
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There are products advertised to clean the bilge by just pouring the product into the bilge, letting the wave action or the action of the boat in motion do the cleaning.
A few days later, you're supposed to pump the bilge dry and as if by magic, you now have a shiny clean bilge. Do they work, and if so, how?
Easiest way to find out: pour some of it into a kitchen sink full of greasy dirty dishwater, just swish it around, every couple of hours... even let it stand overnight if you like...then, just pull the plug and see how clean the sink is without even rinsing it 'cuz the instructions for these products don't call for any rinsing.

I always figured you would have to do some scrubbing.

Yup...and a power washer to get into the places you can't reach.
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Old 03-01-2016, 06:01 PM   #14
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Walmart and some auto parts stores will take used oil but I don't think they will take used oil capturing pads or water with oil mixed in.

I went to the county recycle station once and I don't believe they were set up for those situations either.

So what to do?
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Old 03-01-2016, 06:22 PM   #15
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X2 on LA's Totally Awesome Cleaner. Good stuff! Buy it at the Dollar Store or Harbor Freight for a buck. Or go on line and pay $5-8 for the same size bottle. I don't get their pricing, but it really works well. Stock up - the Top Men are bound to ban it soon because ........
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Old 03-01-2016, 06:39 PM   #16
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Many marinas have one or more oil collection facilities, usually next to the dumpsters to encourage people to dispose of there instead of the dumpster. It's in their best interests to have 'em 'cuz the state or regional gov't environmental agencies keep a very close eye on 'em for pollution violations.
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:03 PM   #17
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All of the marinas down here (that I'm aware of) have used oil and antifreeze accumulation points. Sometimes you have to ask to find them - they tend to be "out back"
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:06 PM   #18
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Many marinas have one or more oil collection facilities, usually next to the dumpsters to encourage people to dispose of there instead of the dumpster. It's in their best interests to have 'em 'cuz the state or regional gov't environmental agencies keep a very close eye on 'em for pollution violations.
Mine allowed me to dump my oil in their drum the last time but the manager said that with the current low oil prices, he was having to pay to have it hauled away.

As far as antifreeze, mine is one of a very few with closed cooling systems so they don't have a drum for it.


Still, that doesn't take care of oil absorption pads or contaminated water.
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Old 03-01-2016, 09:59 PM   #19
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Very good point WesK. I have had to throw the oil pads in the trash, not a good option but the only one I had. Used antifreeze can be taken to my county recycle center. Used oil I can dump at Autozone. BTW, I never buy oil from a vendor that does not take back used oil. If they won't recycle it, they don't get my business. I have taken water contaminated oil, or oil contaminated water to the recycle center and they take it just as they would used oil.

I live in a reasonably "green" area so the county has made an effort to improve their recycle and household hazardous waste programs. I should really call them and ask them about the used absorbent pads.
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Old 03-01-2016, 11:30 PM   #20
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If there is much oil in the bilge , besides your favorite brand of soap, we use simple green or Spic & Span , there is a chance that oil will still be in the mix.

To remove this oil we use a small 1/2 inch bilge pump on a stick, and a 3/4 garden hose to the galley sink.

The oil absorbent mats are used 6 thick in the sink , so with the slow delivery of the small pump you can capture most of the rest.
I agree with Parks. Well done and a great idea, although don't let the Admiral see it as she will not be happy with oil in her sink....
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