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Old 04-05-2016, 05:05 PM   #1
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Bilge Cleaning

There are any number of products available that are advertised as "bilge cleaners". Some even claim to clean your bilge by just the motion of the water, no scrubbing required.

Are these products any better than Dawn dishwashing liquid or "Awesome" cleaner from the dollar store? What do you use to clean your boat's bilge?
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Old 04-05-2016, 05:26 PM   #2
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Greetings,
Mr. WK. I've tried a number of products including that "motion wash" stuff. I suppose they all work to some degree but my concern for a heavier build up is the detergents tend to emulsify any petroleum products which then get pumped over via the bilge pumps. Aside from the EPA implications, not a good thing in my own mind.

There was a recent thread dealing with someone's oil spill that discussed the various approaches but for the life of me I can't remember what the title was.

My way of dealing with any bilge mess (petroleum products) is absorbent diapers and socks although I'm sorely tempted to invest in a starter kit from these guys Oil Spill Cleanup & Remediation Products | Oil Solutions
I think Mr. dhays put the members onto this stuff. Thanks Mr. dh.
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Old 04-05-2016, 05:29 PM   #3
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My wife has called me a human q-tip. She thinks my idea of bilge cleaning is to get the crap all over me then give her my clothes to wash while I take a shower. A cheapo pressure washer is best, still need to wear old clothes. Enjoy
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Old 04-05-2016, 05:36 PM   #4
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I don't have an oil spill in the bilge and I keep one of the oil absorbing socks in the bilge, but of course there is some oil and other debris.
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Old 04-05-2016, 05:44 PM   #5
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I forget, not everyone has DDs. Lucky you.
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Old 04-05-2016, 06:04 PM   #6
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I forget, not everyone has DDs. Lucky you.
Even with DD's, why would you have a bilge under them that can be vacated by a bilge pump? Are we talking about under the engine bilges here or non-under-the-engines?
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Old 04-05-2016, 06:57 PM   #7
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There was a recent thread dealing with someone's oil spill that discussed the various approaches but for the life of me I can't remember what the title was.


I started it, can't remember the title off-hand either, but it's out there.

Some of the products I've been using so far are Dawn, Zep citrus degreaser, 409, and Kaboom. Some of the others that were recommended just weren't quickly sourced, I didn't want to wait for an Amazon delivery, etc., so I've been using that I could get my hands on quickly.

All of these have worked reasonably well, for what they're good at. OTOH, suds can be an issue. Anything that makes lots of suds slightly complicates the suck-up process, so...

I used the degreaser in the two bilge areas I can't really reach, lightly flooding those areas with diluted Zep concentrate, sucking, repeat... then lightly flooding with diluted 409 concentrate, sucking, repeat... then rinsing with fresh water, sucking, repeat.

Dawn has worked best as a diluted spray on vertical surfaces. It tends to drip downward, and collection with rags is slightly easier than using the vac, once the amounts are in control.

After treatment with products... I've gone over some of what I can reach with a steam cleaner and rags or a mop head, too. That seems to be a helpful step, too. Still have a couple bilge compartments to go, for that step.


I haven't used our pressure washer down there; it has a tendency to splash residue all over the place, so wanted to avoid that. Especially in the two "hidden" compartments where diesel flowed in and through but didn't get sprayed all over the place (sidewall and so forth) during the initial event.

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Old 04-05-2016, 08:27 PM   #8
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My vote is for shop vac for removal of the degreaser and messy stuff.
Then rinse water doesn't contain much or any of the bad stuff for the environment.

I use the shop vac fr removing any standing water the bilge pumps can't get...
W/ a dry start its easy to monitor any intrusion sources w/ paper towels, powder, etc
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:43 PM   #9
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My vote is for shop vac for removal of the degreaser and messy stuff.
Definitely. My boat had years and years of nasty bilge stuff. oil sanitation you name it. There is no way you can just pump that stuff out with a clear conscience. And once you add soap into the mix it becomes illegal anyhow.

My boat came with one of those hand pump suction things (see pic) and a few empty 5 gallon gan cans for the dinghy. between them and the local dump I got it all clean. Took a few weeks though.

http://www.mityvac.com/hq_images/07400.jpg

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Old 04-05-2016, 08:56 PM   #10
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I like Extreme Simple Green as a degreaser. It is amazing. As to using a shop vac in the bilge, be very careful if you have gas engines. Shop vacs have been known to explode due to fuel fumes.
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Old 04-05-2016, 09:37 PM   #11
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I made a reservoir for my little shopvac like the one below to contain all the muck - so the shop vac stayed clean. I also used a long, smaller diameter hose for the 'front end' I had so it could get into all the little nooks and crannies around the bilge without having to drag a shopvac around.

Took 5 minutes to make from on old oil pail.

The link is for a drywall separator but the idea is the similar.

Drywall Sanding Dust Collector/Separator
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:03 PM   #12
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Greetings,
I mentioned this before but I think it's worth repeating. IF you leave the shop vac on the dock or in a dock cart you can buy sump pump hose and use it as an extension so when your shop vac fills up you won't have to move it around inside the boat and risk a spill.



Shop ProPlumber Plastic Hose at Lowes.com
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Old 04-06-2016, 10:05 AM   #13
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I maintain my bilge in a reasonably clean condition. The only oil is what I might have spilled when changing the filter (What genius mounts an oil filter horizontally?). The section under the engine has no bilge pump.


When I change my coolant. I drain it into the bilge and pump it out into containers for disposal. There's no good way to capture it directly, I have tried.


Basically, I just want a nice clean bilge so I can easily spot a problem if I have one. I've been using Dawn and it works but I'm wondering if there's something better.
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:13 AM   #14
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The previous bilge cleaning thread is here:
http://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/s32/bilge-cleaning-24913.html
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:17 AM   #15
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When I change my coolant. I drain it into the bilge and pump it out into containers for disposal. There's no good way to capture it directly, I have tried.

.
Same problem I have noticed.
I fixed though by using a wet vac.
Unscrew the plug, Put vacuum hose end to sucking the coolant streaming outflow from engine, it all goes into the vacuum. When vac fills up, put plug back in, empty vac and repeat. This also works for small plugs on risers and exhaust manifolds.

I have v-8 engine, so both block drains need doing. one side is harder to reach, so I took out OEM plug, and screwed in 4 inch brass pipe, then a coupler, then the plug. This puts it into an easier to reach location.
The vacuum works so well, I can even undue an upper hose and suck coolant, it will clear the entire upper part of the motor.

Under my motors exists a long fiberglassed pan, don't want to drain into it, would overflow, the pan is just for keeping some oil drips from bilge.
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:32 AM   #16
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I like Extreme Simple Green as a degreaser. It is amazing. As to using a shop vac in the bilge, be very careful if you have gas engines. Shop vacs have been known to explode due to fuel fumes.
I like simple green to clean out the bilge also, but don't try to shopvac it unless its well diluted.
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:59 AM   #17
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I just dug out a 14" long x 4" dia oil soaked pig from under the engine two days ago . It was hid and I had forgotten about it till I saw this thread . Joy did one of those mini throw ups when I showed it to her . Maybe that will help with the lingering smell .
We spent a night on the boat the other day during the week . When I gave her my goodbye kiss to go to work she said "that's my man I smell ,a mix of diesel and rum"
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:07 AM   #18
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Old school was Joy dish soap. Been using it for 40+ years. Had to clean the ER bilge twice, diesel when the sight tube leaked, and salt water when exhaust hose leaked. The diesel used the transfer pump between the tanks that has a fuel filter and pump back into the tank. Then blue Scott paper towels to wipe up what was left, with a final scrubbing with joy suck up with the wet vac.

I keep the bilg clean and dry so leak can be found. I have blue Scott towel placed around the bilge as its easy to see if the towel is dark blue showing its wet. Then just follow the wet blue towels. So when I go into the engine room I just have to look at the blue towels. Again old school.
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:50 AM   #19
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I used a shop vac to suck out sudsy Dawn from the bilge one time. When I poked my head out of the bilge I saw that the shop vac had spit dirty suds out of the exhaust all over the boat.

😢
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Old 04-07-2016, 09:27 AM   #20
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My shop vac had wheels. My dock is a floating dock. One day a boat came by and made a large wake. Lesson learned; Shop vacs float but they don't work for long after being submerged in salt water.


It appears most folks are using dish soap or regular degreasers, not "bilge cleaners". I guess I'll just continue what I've been doing.
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