How You Can Help

General Clean Drain Dry Procedure

Clean, Drain, Dry… In every waterbody, every time.

Preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species starts with you. A cooperative effort is necessary by all persons and agencies involved with recreational activities to achieve the best results and protect our aquatic resources and recreational opportunities.

The general Clean Drain Dry procedure is described below; however, keep scrolling down the page for information pertaining to specific recreational activities.

CLEAN off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from all equipment before leaving water access

  • Rinse equipment and boat hulls (with high pressure, hot water when possible)
  • Rinse interior compartments of boats with low pressure, hot water (120°F)
  • Flush motor with hot water (120°F) for 2 minutes (or according to owner’s manual)

DRAIN motor, bilge, livewell, and other water containing devices before leaving water access.

DRY everything for at least five days OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

For ANGLERS, the additional step of DISPOSE is recommended:

DISPOSE of unwanted bait, worms, and fish parts in the trash. When keeping live bait, drain bait container and replace with spring or dechlorinated tap water. Never dump live fish or other organisms from one water body into another.

Together the three steps of Clean Drain Dry greatly minimizes the risk of spreading Aquatic Hitchhikers into new locations.

  • Cleaning will remove visible large-bodied organisms attached to or in watercraft or recreational equipment. Rinsing with water removes organisms, while hot water often kills them. Water at least 120°F is recommended; be sure to avoid contact with skin and check manufacturers’ recommendations to ensure equipment can withstand high temperatures. If hot water is not available or may cause damage, rinsing with tap water and completely drying will help prevent spread of aquatic invasive species.
  • Draining removes small and nearly invisible organisms such as zebra mussel larvae (veligers) potentially entrained in water containing devices.
  • Drying is necessary as many organisms can survive in standing water.

A note about chemicals. The use of chemical prophylactics or disinfectants (e.g., bleach) are not recommended for treating watercraft and recreational equipment.  Chemicals may:

  • Damage equipment or components
  • Cause environmental damage
  • Harm human health
  • May not be effective against many aquatic invasive species

Report new sightings. If you think you have found an invasive species, note its exact location and, if possible, take a photo. Report new sightings to the appropriate authorities or use the USGS Sighting Report Form.

Know the rules!  Specimens are needed to confirm sightings, but some jurisdictions prohibit possession and transport of invasive aquatic plants and animals. Before collecting specimens, contact your local natural resource management agency for instructions. Unauthorized introduction of plants, fish, or invertebrates into the wild is illegal in most states. Protect your property and our waters.

Anglers

CLEAN off  plants, animals, and mud from gear and equipment including waders, footwear, ropes, anchors, bait traps, dip nets, downrigger cables, fishing lines, and field gear before leaving water access. Scrub off any visible material on footwear with a stiff brush.

 DRAIN water from watercraft, motor, bilge, bladder tanks, livewell and portable bait containers before leaving water access.  Replace with spring or dechlorinated tap water when keeping live bait before leaving water access.  Don’t add other live fish to bait container.

 DRY everything five days or more, unless otherwise required by local or state laws, when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

DISPOSE of unwanted bait, fish parts, and packing materials, in the trash; do not dump them in the water or on land.

Other key actions:

  • Use non-felt soled boots to further reduce the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species.
  • Fish caught for eating or taxidermy should be cleaned at designated fish cleaning stations or placed on ice.
  • Never dump live fish or other organisms from one water body into another.

Motor Boats

CLEAN off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from watercraft, motor, trailer, and equipment before leaving water access. Scrub hull using a stiff brush. Rinse watercraft, trailer, and equipment with high pressure hot water when possible.  Flush motor according to owner’s manual.

  • Jet Boats and Personal Watercraft (PWCs) users: Clean off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from hull, trailer, intake grate and steering nozzle, etc. Run engine 5-10 seconds to blow out excess water and vegetation from internal drive before leaving water access.
  • Sailors: Clean off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from the centerboard, bilge board wells, rudderpost, trailer and other equipment before leaving water access.

 DRAIN water from watercraft, motor, bilge, bladder tanks, livewell, and portable bait containers before leaving water access.

 DRY everything for five days or more, unless otherwise required by local or state laws, when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

Non-Motorized Watercraft

For canoes, boards, rafts, kayaks, rowboats, paddleboats, inflatables, sculls, and other non-motorized recreational watercraft:

CLEAN off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from watercraft, gear, paddles, floats, ropes, anchors, dip nets, and trailer before leaving water access. Scrub hull using a stiff brush.  Rinse watercraft, trailer and equipment with high pressure hot water, when possible.

 DRAIN water from watercraft, sponges, bailers, and water containing devices before leaving water access.

 DRY everything five days or more, unless otherwise required by local or state laws, when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

SCUBA / Snorkelers

CLEAN  off visible plants, animals and mud from wetsuit, dry suit, mask, snorkel, fins, buoyancy compensator (BC), regulator, cylinder, weight belt, watercraft, motor, and trailer before leaving water access. Soak gear used in saltwater dives in 5% dishwashing liquid solution (1 cup/gallon), or gear used in freshwater dives in 3.5% salt solution, (½  cup/gallon) for 30 minutes.  Rinse inside and outside of gear with hot water, when possible.

 DRAIN water from BC, regulator, cylinder boot, watercraft, motor, and any water containing devices before leaving water access.

 DRY everything five days or more, unless otherwise required by local or state laws, when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

Seaplanes

CLEAN off visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from pontoons, cross members, steps, transom, rudders, chine, wheel wells, mooring ropes, wires, and cables. Scrub off any floats with a stiff brush. Rinse landing gear with high-pressure hot water, when possible. Landing in marine waters, if moving between freshwater bodies, can be an effective method of killing freshwater aquatic invasive species.

At water take-off:

  • Avoid taxiing through aquatic plants.
  • Raise and lower water rudders several times to clear off plants.

After water take-off:

  • Raise and lower water rudders several times to dislodge aquatic plant fragments while flying over the waters you left or over land.
  • If aquatic plants remain visible on aircraft, return to same water body and clean them off.

 DRY water from floats before take-off.        

 DRY everything five days or more, unless otherwise required by local or state laws, when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse. Store aircraft on land when possible. Hot summer temperatures and flights during dry weather will help kill aquatic invasive plants and animals that may be on floats.

Waterfowl Hunters

CLEAN off visible plants, animals and mud from waders, hip boots, watercraft, motor, trailer, ATV’s, push poles, decoys, decoy lines and anchors before leaving area. Brush hunting dogs and rinse kennels with tap water.

 DRAIN water from watercraft, motor, bilge and other water containing devices before leaving water access.

 DRY everything five days or more, unless otherwise required by local or state laws, OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

Other key actions:

  • Use non-felt soled boots to further reduce the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species.
  • Cut emergent vegetation above waterline for blinds or camouflage in accordance with regulations.
  • Use elliptical and bulb-shaped anchors to help avoid snagging aquatic plants.

Swimmers / Beach visitors

CLEAN off visible plants, animals and mud from swimsuits, masks, goggles, floats, and beach toys.

 DRAIN water from toys or other water-containing devices before leaving water access.

 DRY everything five days or more, OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

Non-Recreational Activities

Aquarium and Pet Owners:
Many people think their fish, reptiles, or other aquatic species will survive if they turn them loose in local water. Unfortunately, many of these species do survive, reproduce, and become invasive. As an alternative to release, find another owner, donate to a pet shop or humane center, or humanely euthanize.  In addition, never empty water from your fish tank into a water body or storm drain; instead pour water into the toilet or onto land far away from bodies of water.

Bait Harvesters:
In addition to the bait itself being potentially invasive, other, potentially invasive, species can be collected with baitfish. If moved, they can negatively affect waterbodies. Use these measures to reduce the risk of transporting aquatic invasive species.:

  • Inspect for and remove undesired species.
  • Dispose of unwanted live bait in the trash.
  • Never release bait or aquatic plants into different waters.
  • Clean Drain Dry boats, trailers and equipment before leaving the access point.

Tourists:
Individuals travel to other states and countries around the world. If you have entered the water in your travels, be sure to clean anything that came in contact with that water including shoes, boots, waders, boats, and trailers. You do not want to be responsible for bringing something that may be destructive into your home area. Also make sure you clean your items before leaving on a trip so that you do not inadvertently introduce an invasive species to the area you plan to visit.

Inform Others

Each of us can do our part to tell others.

Individuals: Inform friends and family about the threat of aquatic invasive species and how to use the Clean Drain Dry procedure to prevent their spread. Share this website and the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! Campaign materials with others.

Media: The Media is an important resource to inform recreational users about the threat of aquatic invasive species and what these outdoor enthusiasts can do to protect our water resources. If you need additional information, Contact Us to help put you in contact with sources to interview.

Tour and Charter Boats Operators:  Inform recreationalists about the status of the lake you are visiting. Discuss any aquatic invasive species present in the waterbody and the impact that has resulted. If the area you are visiting has not been impacted, encourage visitors to keep it that way. Provide Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! materials and encourage customers to follow the Clean Drain Dry procedures every time they visit a body of water.

Clubs and Organizations: Use your newsletters or website to inform others about the aquatic invasive species, be sure to provide information about the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! campaign and link to this website. Awareness Weeks or exhibits at sporting events, boat shows, and other events can be also be used to inform others, demonstrate the principles of Clean Drain Dry, and distribute Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! Materials. Check with your state fish and wildlife agency for training that might be available on how to educate others on aquatic invasive species.

Get Involved

Take the Pledge!

  • We need to be effective stewards of our environment and that’s what the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! campaign is all about. By taking the pledge, you become a card carrying member of a special group of stewards who love and enjoy our waters and want to prevent the impacts of invasive species. The pledge is a reminder and a statement about how you value America’s resources.

Become A Partner

  • In addition to taking the pledge, one of the best ways to help is to get your various organizations involved. Whether it’s a business, agency, club or media outlet, you can join the campaign and use the materials to help spread the prevention message and protect the waters that are so important to all of us.