You love the water, but let’s be honest. After a day in the salt water or on the lake, there’s nothing like a good shower. Why? Salt, Mud, silt, grass, bugs, and the occasional “pond slime” don’t do much for making you feel fresh. They don’t do much for your boat, either. That’s why it’s important to keep your boat clean. But how?
Boat cleaning tips are a dime a dozen. Just ask anyone at the dock; you’ll get more advice than you know what to do with. To make it easier, we searched high and low for professional tips to help you keep your boat ready for adventure.
So here they are not in order of importance.
- Choose your cleaner carefully
The American Boating Association recommends using environmentally friendly soap and staying away from “super concentrated” detergents as they can strip away and damage finishes when left on for extended periods of time.
Sailors for the Sea recommends Shurhold’s Brite Wash and Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Boat/RV Gel Wash for both their commitment to the environment and their cleaning ability.
When you head below deck, cleaners like Seventh Generation and Bon Ami are both excellent options.
- Give it a rinse
Scrubbing a dry boat can scratch and damage that beautiful finish. Start by giving your boat a rinse from the top down to remove any loose dirt and grime.
- Give the hull a wash
Using water, your boat wash, and a soft sponge, give your boat a thorough wash. Make sure to get all the corners and underneath the seats. For fiberglass and aluminum boats, Mike Sneed of Tracker Boat Center in Springfield, Missouri, says, “the best thing to do is wash, or at least wipe down, the boat every time it’s pulled out of the water. This will keep dirty lake water from staining the fiberglass colors.”
- Rinse again
Starting at the top, give your boat another rinse, making sure to remove all the soapy water.
- Dry your boat
To get a nice, streak-free finish and to prepare your boat for waxing, use a soft cloth to dry your boat.
- Wax on, wax off
A coat of wax will keep your boat looking shiny and new for years to come. In a circular motion, apply wax to the hull of your boat. Once it dries, remove the excess wax with a soft bath towel.
- Clean the canvas
Left unchecked, mold and mildew can quickly form on any canvas on your boat. The Great Lakes Boat Top Company suggests cleaning your canvas with lukewarm water and dish detergent, followed by a clear water rinse. Once it is clean, allow the canvas to air dry thoroughly. Your canvas or Dacron sails won’t need too much maintenance. Sailmaker FX Sails recommends hosing your sails down after using them and giving them time to dry before stowing them. When you do need to wash them, mild soap and water, along with a soft brush, is sufficient in most cases.
- What about teak?
Boat maker Chris Craft is a master of teak woodworking. The company notes that teak requires limited maintenance and can be cleaned by scrubbing across the grain with water, a mild cleanser, and a soft plastic bristle brush. They add that “there is no need to add coats of teak sealers or oils, other than for the cosmetic appearance. But if you wish to maintain this appearance, use a teak sealer rather than oil. Oils darken the wood, making it hotter and more slippery, negating teak’s natural non-slip surface.”
- Clean your outboard engine
Writing for Bass Pro Shops, Justin Hoffman suggests a simple mix of dish soap and water to clean your outboard engine. “For tough spots, a commercial degreaser will get the job done. Spray on and use a soft bristled brush or coarse sponge.” Once you are done, give it a rinse and dry the engine with a clean towel.
- Clean vinyl boat seats
Though they are designed for water-filled environments, your boat seats will last longer if you clean them regularly. The Dockside Canvas Company suggests using mild soap and water to clean the seats. Rinse them with clean water and wipe them dry with a soft towel. They also recommend adding a UV protectant to the seats “to prolong the life of your boat seats and marine upholstery.”