How to Clean Your Boat

Everybody wants a sparkly clean boat but not everyone is aware of how to properly clean their boat. If you want to achieve a spotless vessel, then you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll discuss the right way to clean your boat and what are the cleaning mistakes that you should avoid to prevent any damages to your vessel.


Household cleaning products

Cleaning Mistake #1 – Not washing your boat before scrubbing

Since your boat is in the water, some of you might think that it’s okay to start scrubbing your boat right away. This is a common mistake new boat owners should avoid.

Your boat can gather a huge amount of debris, mud, and dirt whenever you use them. It’s important to wash all this filth off on your boat to prevent them from scratching and damaging your boat’s clear coat.

Cleaning Mistake #2 – Letting your boat air-dry

Letting your boat air-dry is a big no. This not only damages your boat’s gel coat and the fiberglass beneath but also makes your boat look dirty and old.

If you’ve done this process, I’m sure that you noticed tons of white specks on your boat’s surface. These specks are water spots that dried and left traces of mineral stains on your boat.

To avoid this mistake, always wipe your boat with a soft microfiber cloth to get rid of the water spots and moisture buildup. This will protect your boat from any damages and will make your boat look polished and clean.

Cleaning Mistake #3 – Not inspecting and cleaning the propeller

The propeller is one of the important parts of a boat. Though it’s considered low maintenance, you still need to check and clean it before and after sailing.

In this way, you will maintain its condition and prevent any accidents while on a boat. Clean your propeller and check if there are corrosions, algae, ropes, or any debris that might cause unwanted events.


Man cleaning his boat

If you’re on a tight budget and want a less-toxic cleaning, you can simply use alternative products that are available at your home. Here are some household products that can help you clean your boat.

Using toothpaste for removing fiberglass stains 

Yes, toothpaste not only makes your teeth strong and healthy but also removes stains from your fiberglass boat.

Take note that you should use white toothpaste since colored ones can leave stains. The first thing to do is to coat the stain with a generous amount of toothpaste. Once you cover the stain with paste, leave it for a few minutes and grab a soft brush, and brush the stain.

You can also use toothpaste to clean your boat lights to remove the foggy films. Do this by putting the paste into a clean cloth and rub it on the glass lenses to make them sparkle without scratching.

Using liquid dishwashing soap for cleaning boat windows

Another household product that you can use when cleaning your boat is a liquid dishwashing soap. Simply combine warm water and the dish soap in a spray bottle.

Spray it through your boat’s window and use a clean cotton cloth or a foam pad to remove dirt from your window. After that, rinse it with water and use a clean cloth to dry your window.

Lemon spray for vinyl boat seats

A citrus-based cleaner is an effective way to not only clean your boat seats but also maintain their condition.

You can start cleaning your vinyl seats by damping a rag in clean water and wiping all the visible dirt. Then, you can use the lemon spray to remove stubborn dirt since citric acid is considered a strong cleaner that can dissolve grime and dirt.


Boat cleaning

Washing your boat’s carpet

Since it’s given that this may be one of the dirtiest parts of your boat, cleaning your boat’s carpet will need a lot of patience and energy.

Besides the fact that you need it to be spotless, you also want your carpet to smell good. The first thing to do is to use a power washer and spray the entire carpet (power washers are more advisable since they can remove dirt instantly but you can also use a normal hose if you don’t have one).

Once you’re done, you can use a brush and a cleaning solution to remove the remaining stains. Use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner after and let your carpet dry.

Cleaning your livewells properly

Livewells are tanks that are found on fishing boats. They are used as containers to keep baits and alive fishes that are caught.

When cleaning livewells, expect a smelly odor and a lot of stains when cleaning your livewells. Take note that you need to avoid bleach and strong detergents when cleaning your livewells. In fact, it is recommended to use a non-toxic product so it won’t have an effect on the fishes that you’ll place in there.

The first step is to remove all the filter screens and spray them with water to remove any clogs. For the interior, you can use baking soda and water to reduce the smell and then scrub the sides, top, and bottom. Wash it thoroughly and dry it with a clean cloth.

Maintaining your boat vinyl flooring/seats

Whether you use vinyl for your boat’s flooring or seats, you can easily clean them by simply washing them down with mild soap and water.

Since marine vinyl has an anti-microbial property (a great defense against mildew and mold), you can choose not to use strong chemical cleaners like acids, bleachers, and detergents. For your boat seats, you can use a soft rag and soak it in a bucket of soapy water to remove the stains while you can simply mop your boat’s flooring and apply a vinyl protectant after.

Cleaning your boat consoles

When cleaning your boat consoles, you can use all-purpose spray cleaners to polish plastics and glass around the area.

You can also use a soft sponge soaked in water to rub stains. After that, you can simply use a dry cloth to wipe it dry and you’re good to go.

Maintaining your hull and gel-coat surfaces

To achieve sparkly clean hull and gel-coat surfaces, you need to protect and maintain them before and after using your boat.

The first thing to do is to wash the gel-coat surfaces with fresh water to remove all the salt and to prevent scratches. Then, you can apply the marine polish using a dual-action polisher on your boat to restore the condition of the gel coat.

Lastly, apply marine wax using a dual-action polisher to protect the gel-coat surfaces. Don’t wax your boat under direct sunlight since it can leave swirl marks. You can apply quality marine wax three or four times a year to keep the gel coat’s condition.

Cleaning your boat’s engine

Your boat’s engine needs regular cleaning inside and out to prevent excessive grease and corrosion.

For the inboard engine, it is important to regularly remove the dirt and grime. But since electrical wires and other components are visible, there are possibilities that they can be damaged by cleaning products if not cleaned properly.

The first thing to do is to wash your boat engine with water then spray mild liquid cleaning soap. Now use a soft brush to clean the metal and plastic parts of the engine. Avoid the wires as much as possible so they won’t get damaged. If you don’t have the cleaning spray, you can use a clean cloth for this process.

And most importantly, make sure that the boat’s battery is turned off before cleaning the engine.


Man cleaning his boat

What is the easiest way to clean the bottom of your boat?

If you’re planning to clean your boat all by yourself, the easiest way is to have the right equipment and product such as:

  • All-purpose spray cleaner
  • Deck cleaner
  • Boat Polisher
  • Rust cleaners
  • Fabric, plastic, and glass cleaners
  • Water hose/pressure washer
  • Long-handled scrub brush
  • Rags

It’s better if there’s someone who can help you in the process of cleaning so you can do it quickly. And lastly, to make your boat cleaning easy, make sure that you know what you’re doing. Knowing what to clean first and what products can remove tough stains, fosters organization so you won’t have any trouble while cleaning.

Do you need a pressure washer?

Pressure washers have their ups and downs. First, they can help you remove boat stains easily compared to an ordinary water hose but they can also cause damage to your boat when not used properly.

If you’re gonna use a pressure washer, make sure that you test it first before using it on your boat and check the power pressure.

You don’t actually need a pressure washer but it can somehow help with your cleaning, most boaters use high-pressure spray wands to clean high and low parts of their boat.


Yes, everybody can clean a boat but keep in mind that you must clean it properly to prevent unwanted damages and to maintain its condition.

Do you have any boating tips that you want to share? Comment your thoughts below.

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