If you’re a new boat owner or looking to buy a boat for the first time, you’ll learn that while everyone loves spending a day on the boat, not everyone loves boat cleaning. Keeping your prized vessel clean doesn’t have to be time-consuming and should be part of your regular boat maintenance schedule. A few extra minutes of preventative care will save you a considerable amount of swabbing and scrubbing time later on.
How often you clean your boat will depend on how often you use it and where you take it. If you cruise in saltwater, you’ll need to be vigilant about removing corrosive salt build-up. Always check your owner’s manual for specific cleaning instructions from the manufacturer. Our boat cleaning hacks will help keep your boat cleaner so that you can spend more time on the water having fun.
How to clean a boat
1. Wax your hull
If you keep your boat tied up at the dock for more than a few days, it’s a good idea to haul it out and wash and wax the hull before your next voyage. It’s also essential to winterize your boat. One of the best boat cleaning products is a non-toxic, environmentally safe boat cleaner. You can apply this with a sponge or soft scrub brush while the boat is still wet. After washing and drying the hull, use a non-toxic brand of fiberglass or gel coat wax to prevent surface dirt and grime from becoming ingrained.
As a bonus, waxing your hull will reduce the need for detergents or heavy scrubbing when you need to wash it the next time. Just keep the wax away from your boat deck. It might make it slippery.
2. Use water repellent on your windshield
Another boat detailing secret is to use marine water repellent to prevent annoying water spots from appearing on your windshield. There are a few on the market to choose from, but make sure that the product is safe for plexiglass or glass, depending on the type of windshield you have.
3. Protect your upholstery
A few easy steps can protect your vinyl upholstery from the elements. Before applying a vinyl protectant, use a damp cloth to wipe away any dirt, grime, or salt residue. Keep your seats covered when not in use to guard against stains and weathering.
4. Flush your livewell
If you own a fishing boat with a livewell system, scrub, and flush it weekly using a mixture of baking soda and hot water. Avoid bleach and strong detergents because they may produce toxic residue, which could kill any fish you put inside your livewell.
To clean your livewell safely, add a few tablespoons of baking soda to a small bucket of hot water, and then use a scrub brush to clean the bottom, sides, and top. Once you have removed the dirt and grime, rinse the system several times before heading back on the water.
5. Rinse your deck
Another boat cleaning hack and time-saver is to scrub the deck of your boat and rinse off any spills when they happen. If you use your boat for fishing, rinse off any bait or debris before it dries, when it takes twice the effort to remove. When it does come time to scrub the deck, consider your deck type. For a non-skid deck, use a medium-stiff deck brush and boat soap that the manufacturer has formulated for the marine environment.
Now that you know how to clean a boat, you can use the extra hours you would have otherwise spent scrubbing and washing to enjoy a relaxing sunset cruise with your family.