Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!


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:

Pull the Plug Sign. Photo Credit: Brown Soil and Water Conservation District

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.


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