Eco-friendly yacht laundry: Tips, tricks and products for crew

Toxic laundry detergents and wasteful laundry practices can pollute the seas and damage marine life. Adopting environmentally friendly laundry habits, such as using natural laundry detergents and green cleaning products, doesn’t have to mean sub-par laundry.

We have compiled a list of eco-friendly laundry hacks and green cleaning alternatives, for keeping clothes looking bright and white, getting rid of stubborn stains, looking after laundry equipment, reducing lint, and sorting stubborn odour. We’ve also included easily attainable non-toxic laundry products, easy make it yourself natural cleaning products, and handy laundry tips and tricks.

Stain removal

When working on a luxury yacht flawless laundry is an absolute must. Any yacht crew member will know guest laundry must not show a single trace of the red wine, decadent food, and cosmetics from the night before. And no matter what a crew member’s duties are, there are no excuses for rust stains or marks from food and cocktail preparation.

Dark food and cosmetic stains

For particularly dark stains, such as red wine, curry and nail polish, hydrogen peroxide works a dream. Always use hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine, as it is less toxic for the ocean – and better for your skin.

lipstick on clothes

Liquid and rust stains

For all liquid and rust stains, first, cover the affected area with salt. But most importantly do not forget to wipe the salt off properly before you wash or dry clean. Rust can also be removed with lemon and lime juice.

Oil stains

An oily stain can be treated by sprinkling baby powder or cornstarch liberally, before leaving it to sit for ten minutes and sweeping away before washing.

 The same result can be achieved by rubbing the affected area with white chalk then leaving it to sit for ten minutes before brushing it off and putting the garment into wash.

Natural stains

For natural stains, such as marks from pets, fruit and vegetables, a natural enzymatic eco-friendly cleaner works effectively. Follow the step by step diagram to make your own multipurpose enzyme stain remover.

< Click to download our step-by-step homemade eco stain remover, courtesy of Yacht Stewardess tips.

Laundry equipment 

It is important to treat laundry equipment properly so that equipment performs at its peak and lasts as long as it can. A handful of natural products are all you need to care for your laundry tools; 


As many laundry stews will already know, vinegar is a great multipurpose cleaner. Be sure to use white distilled vinegar over other kinds, as it contains no natural plants dies that could discolour clothes. For those who prefer to use cider vinegar on clothes, ensure it is diluted. Vinegar is safe for the environment and for septic tanks – some even say vinegar is actually beneficial to septic tanks – and works well in all kinds of washers.


Baking soda 

Baking soda can reduce the suds in a wash, which is beneficial in two ways; firstly, it reduces loading time, and secondly, it cares for washing machines by ensuring pumps aren’t stuffed up with suds. Occasionally run an empty wash with half a cup of baking soda to clear pumps, and put a bit in every wash if foam causing trouble.


To remove stains and residue from the iron, slightly dampen a small handful of salt and scrub the bottom. Afterwards, clean with a damp cloth for a polished underside.


Brightening and whitening


Add half a cup of white distilled vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser or during the last rinse to break alkali residues left by detergents and soaps that cause colours to fade.

For black clothes that are starting to fade, add two cups of brewed coffee in the rinse cycle.

Of course, washing less regularly and in cooler temperatures will keep colours vibrant and treats the environment better, and while this may not be feasible on board a busy charter yacht, it is worth keeping in mind.


Give stained cotton socks and unsightly dishcloths a new lease of life by boiling the articles in a hot pan of water with a cup of white distilled vinegar. Turn the heat off and let the articles soak overnight before laundering as usual for bright white cotton.

Lemon and lime juice are also effective nontoxic fabric whiteners; a soak in a gallon of hot water mixed with half a cup of lemon juice will whiten garments. 


Commercial fabric softeners with intense artificial scents are often toxic to marine life and cause irritation to sensitive skin.

Reduce your use of toxic fabric softeners by adding half a cup of white distilled vinegar in the final rinse cycle. To add a fresh scent, a couple of drops of lavender oil will do the trick - and as a bonus, lavender scent is purported to have a calming effect.

Baking soda put into the rinse cycle is a simple and effective way to soften fabric by preventing mineral salts in the water stiffening clothes. For added power, mix baking soda with vinegar and essential oils.

Lint and microfibers 


Lint can make a clean wash look scruffy and unprofessional, but adding half a cup of white distilled vinegar in the rinse cycle can stop lint and other small fibres sticking to clothes.

Lint and microfibers 

Micro fibres

Micro fibres from clothes, some too small for the eyes to see, can slow down washing machines and make their way through  filters into the ocean where they are ingested by sea life, causing immense damage, and even finding its way into our food and water.

Cora Ball, created by Rozalia Project, is a consumer solution that aims to solve the microfiber problem – a hotly researched subject and something just about everyone contributes to.

Inspired by coral in the ocean, Cora Ball grabs the tiny microfibers that come off clothes and stops them from being flushed into the ocean, where they pollute habitats, damage sea life, and eventually make their way into our food.

The little ball can make a big difference; Yachting Pages spoke to Rachael Z. Miller, co-founder and executive director of Rozalia Project, “It’s all about the big picture. Lots of little actions make a big difference. For instance, if 10% of US households used Cora Ball it would prevent the equivalent of 30 million plastic bottles worth of plastic microfibres going into oceans and rivers every year.”

Simply put one ball in a regular wash, or three in a large industrial wash, and remove the ball from the laundry before you dry. As the ball collects fibres, many that are too small for the eye to see, those fibres then grab even more fibres, meaning the ball gets more effective with every use. For delicate items be sure to put Cora Ball in a mesh delicate bag to stop the little arms grabbing onto anything they shouldn’t.

Cora Ball started as a kickstarter project, with all proceeds going back into Rozalia Project’s efforts to clean and protect the oceans. According to Rachael Miller, hundreds of pre-orders have already been placed. Backers of the kickstarter campaign will get the first batch later in the year, Rozalia Project hopes to sell Cora Ball worldwide online somewhere in the near future. Anyone who really wants a Cora Ball can contact Rozalia Project directly.


Unfortunately, part of dealing with yacht laundry means facing some particularly potent stenches and tenacious yellow pit stains. These can require a lot of work and use of toxic products to blast through the stench. Natural substances provide effective alternatives to squash odour and kill bacteria.

Body odour and armpit stains

Spraying vinegar onto the underarm of a stinky top can get rid of stinky sweat smells. And if you want an alternative to trusty vinegar for odour control, tea tree oil, eucalyptus and lavender oil not only smell delightful but combat the source of the smell by fighting the bacteria.  For yellow underarm stains, squeeze lemon and lime juice onto the fabric then wash or dry clean.


If the guests are keen on smoking cigarettes and cigars, add half a cup of white distilled vinegar to the wash cycle. For smoky smells on furnishings such as pillow and drapes, hang clothes above a hot bath with one cup of white distilled vinegar, leaving the door closed so that the steam can seep into the fibres.

Wet Towels

Wet towels in a hamper or washing drum can quickly cause mildew growth and with it a sour musty smell. To freshen towels, fill the washing machine with hot water, then add two cups of white distilled vinegar before putting on a wash cycle. Do this before washing towels regularly with an eco laundry detergent. While this method is effective for smaller mildew problems, it is worth outsourcing large mildew issues.

Wet Towels

You don’t have to reach for toxic cleaning products to achieve fantastic laundry results. Small changes can make a big difference to the environment, so consider making some changes today.

For larger laundry issues, it is always worth seeking advice from laundry professionals.

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