A Quick Guide on Cleaning Your Boat the Right Waty

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

After each journey out into the water, do you rinse your boat?

You should. It’s important to rinse your boat to get rid of any residue or debris. If not, the build-up can become slime that will grow on the boat and cause damage.

But you’ll also need to do a periodic full clean from bow to stern. That can be quite an undertaking so you want to do it right.

We’ll review the most effective ways to clean a boat from top to bottom, inside and out.

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Cleaning Your Boat’s Interior

Starting at the bow and working to the stern, spray down any carpet with a power washer or garden hose to lift dirt and grime. Use a wet-dry vac to suction up the loosened residue. Persistent stains can be worked out with Thebetterboat.com brushes or other brushes specified for boats.

For plastic and glass in the console area, grab a partially wet sponge and use an all-purpose spray cleaner to wipe down surfaces. Finish with a dry cloth. 

Use a vinegar and water solution on a soft cloth for any electronics – wiping in a circular motion to avoid scratches or grit marks.  

The bathroom is cleaned in very much the same way you’d clean your toilet, sink, and shower at home. However, because scale and calcium are a bigger issue, be sure to flush the lines with a few cups of white vinegar each month. 

If you have vinyl seats, use cleaners designed specifically for vinyl. They have added protectants for deep cleaning, as well as sunscreen to prevent break down from exposure to the sun’s UV rays. 

For any material upon which mold or mildew has formed, use dish soap, hot water, and a brush to remove it. Allow the material to fully dry and breathe.

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Taking Care of Your Boat’s Exterior

Every spring put a base coat of two layers of paste wax on the hull sides and other smooth gel-coated surfaces. Then apply a liquid carnauba wax every month. If you keep your boat on a trailer or a lift, treat the hull bottom in the same manner. Continue to wash your boat down with a boat cleaning solution after each use. 

Boat canvas also needs to hosed down and cleaned with a soft-bristle brush and mild soap every month.

For clear canvas, you’ll need to know whether it’s polycarbonate, acrylic, or polyvinyl. Each time you return to the dock, clean these surfaces with a gentle wash-down with soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge or microfiber cloth. Dry with squeegee or chamois.

And finally, regardless of whether you have an inboard or outboard engine, you’ll want to keep them clean too. An outboard motor’s cowl and exterior should be waxed and washed down with soap and water and microfiber clothes after every use.

For an inboard engine, you should gently wipe away dirt and grime. But since there are electrical components that can be damaged by cleaners, turn to the pros for a full clean. 

Now You Know How to Properly Clean a Boat 

Armed with all the right ways to clean a boat, you can feel confident in knowing that keeping it squeaky clean inside and out will prolong its life.

That means more months, or even years, of enjoyment on the water. 

And for more great informational articles on a wide variety of topics, keep checking back with us.