Imagine a world without harmful copper-based antifouling! Places like Washington in the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden, the home of the Drive-in Boatwash®, are moving towards, or have already begun restricting the use or type of copper-based antifouling. Other jurisdictions, such as California, are encouraging the development and use of non-toxic, copper free antifouling for recreational vessels.

Copper-based antifouling continually releases copper into the marine environment, which is toxic to plant life and other organisms – that’s how it works! Unfortunately, levels of copper can build up to harmful levels, particularly in marinas and other areas with restricted water circulation.

Regular cleaning of boat hulls using methods such as the Drive-in Boatwash® can remove completely the need for antifouling coatings. This is exactly what has been achieved at the Bosö Boat club in Lidingö, Sweden, where members regularly use the Drive-in Boatwash® themselves to keep their boats clean and drag-free underneath. Additionally, the cleaning process uses no harmful chemicals or detergents!

Watch the video below for the full story about how this inspirational Swedish boat club has reduced antifouling use among its fleet to virtually zero.


Multiple studies around the world have shown that in-water cleaning of boats treated with copper-based antifouling, using underwater divers, can accelerate the release of both dissolved copper and particulate copper into the surrounding waters. Over time, the build-up of debris from hull-cleaning may also result, smothering the bed of the cleaning area.

To ensure that the surrounding marine environment is safeguarded from any materials removed during the treatment, every Drive-in Boatwash® is fitted with a fully contained, flexible liner as standard. All algae and other organisms that are removed by the brushes remain within the boatwash envelope, where they quickly settle to the bottom for routine recovery and safe disposal at a suitable landfill facility .


The Drive-in Boatwash® with its enclosed underwater containment system, fully complies with the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management’s guidelines for cleaning recreational vessels (2015).


Australia has its own national guideline for antifouling and in-water cleaning. Although the guideline has a strong focus on the effective management of invasive marine organisms brought in from other waters (biosecurity), it does discuss the need to ensure that any materials released into the surrounding environment meet local standards (addressed by the Drive-in Boatwash® full underwater enclosure), and to ensure the antifouling, where it exists, is not damaged.

For in-water brush systems, such as the Drive-in Boatwash®, the guideline recommends regular cleaning with soft, non-abrasive brushes be used in order to minimise the risk of damage to any existing antifoul coatings and the subsequent release of biocides.


The requirements for State and Local Government environmental and planning approvals varies across the country, and it is the responsibility of the investor to identify and secure the necessary authorisations prior to installation of the machine. Where Milton Marine has prior knowledge or experience in this area, we are happy to advise.

Link to Guidelines

Page prepared by Ennovate Environmental Consulting, using information made available by Milton Marine and other public resources. Page last updated 20 June 2017.