Owning a boat means being able to have lots of fun. Whether you’re getting out to go fishing, to soak up some rays, or to participate in water sports, having a boat can make the time more enjoyable. Taking care of the boat will ensure that it lasts for a long time. Part of that process is boat cleaning.

Not only is boat cleaning important in making your boat shine, but it will also help you protect your investment.

In some cases, it may also be required by law. To reduce the transfer of invasive species from one place to another, you may have to clean your boat after removing it from the water. Some places even require inspections before a boat can be brought into a state or places on the water.

No matter what the reason, having a clean boat is beneficial. There isn’t a right or wrong way to clean a boat, but there are some techniques that may work better than others.

What Is Boat Cleaning?

Simply put, boat cleaning means getting your boat clean. This could mean the hull or the interior or both. It can be as simple as removing the trash after being on the water, or it can be more involved, such as using soap and water and waxing the boat.

How detailed a person gets will depend on how long they plan on keeping their boat and how they want it to look. If they only remove the trash from the interior of their boat, this could allow dirt and other debris to build up, which could cause carpeting or upholstery to rip or get damaged.

The same can happen on the hull. If dirt and other debris aren’t taken care of, then it can damage the paint and allow rust to grow. Creatures such as barnacles or snails might also attach themselves to the hull, and they can also cause damage. Mold and mildew may also get out of hand if the boat is taken care of properly.

Are Specific Techniques Necessary for Boat Cleaning?

If you’re going to invest in a boat, then you’re more than likely going to take the necessary steps to ensure that it lasts for a long time and looks good. Boats can be incredibly expensive, and most people don’t have the means to get a new one every few years because they kept it dirty.

When it comes to doing boat cleaning right, there are some things you’ll need to be aware of. The first is what the boat is made of. This includes both the interior and the exterior. Knowing this will ensure that you use the right products to get it clean.

If you have an aluminum or fiberglass boat, you’ll want to make sure you use cleaning products designed specifically for these materials. If you don’t, it could damage the hull. Using household cleaning products may also be damaging, as these can strip the wax from the exterior.

Here are 8 Boat Cleaning Tips to Keep Your Boat Sparkling

It doesn’t matter if your boat is aluminum or fiberglass; using the right cleaning products is beneficial. In addition, using the right techniques can also help keep your boat sparkling and protected. Below are some tips to accomplish this task.

Cleaning an Aluminum Boat

Use the Right Cleaner

When cleaning your aluminum boat, you want to make sure you use a marine aluminum cleaner. These are formulated to remove waterline staining and oxidized dullness, but it won’t damage the hull.

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Use a Scrubbing Pad

Most aluminum boat cleaners are acidic, so they will remove staining, but using a scrubbing pad can also help with this process. Since the cleaners can be acidic, you’ll need to make sure you wear gloves and eye protection to ensure you don’t damage your skin or eyes.

To avoid drip marks, which could become permanent, start at the bottom of the section you are cleaning and work your way up. Do one small section at a time, and don’t allow the cleaner to dry on the boat. Rinse each section with clean water once the area has been cleaned.

Use Clean Water to Rinse

Fresh, clean water should be used during boat cleaning to ensure that the hull is brought to an amazing shine. It will also ensure that all dirt and debris has been removed from the outside. Using the hose that’s connected to your house is the best way to get clean water for the process.

Don’t Forget to Polish

After you’ve removed the dirt and debris from the outside of the hull, then using an aluminum polish on unpainted aluminum will keep it looking amazing and protect the exterior. If there is any leftover acid wash on the hull, the polish will neutralize it so it doesn’t cause damage. The best way to apply the polish is with a clean cloth. Polish can also help protect the boat from harmful UV rays and help an old boat look new again.

Cleaning a Fiberglass Boat

Consider Regular Washing

Regularly washing a fiberglass boat is important for ensuring that the gelcoat remains intact. The easiest way to accomplish this task is to spray dirt and grime off with the hose every once in a while. Avoid putting a metal nozzle on the end of the hose. If you accidentally drop it, it can cause damage to the gelcoat and to the hull.

If your boat is incredibly dirty, then you’ll want to use soap. However, it’s not recommended to use soap on a weekly basis. This will strip the wax off the hull. You’ll need to have two buckets for the process. One to clean the boat, and one to clean the rags.

If there is any dirt or debris on the sponges or rags that you use to clean the hull, this can scratch the exterior and cause damage. Cleaning the rags or sponges will ensure that this doesn’t happen and make your boat shiny.

After you’ve washed the boat, you’ll then need to dry the gelcoat with a squeegee or chamois, and then buff it with a soft cloth. Every 4 to 6 months, you’ll need to apply a boat wax after doing a boat cleaning to restore the gelcoat and protect it from oxidation.

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Cleaning the Interior

Like the outside of the boat, keeping the interior clean will ensure that the seats and carpeting last for a long time to come. Also like cleaning the exterior, you’ll want to make sure you have the right cleaning products for the task.

If you happen to have wood decking in your boat, then using a teak cleaner is advantageous. This can help remove stains and weathering that may have occurred. You’ll also need to oil the wood so that it’s protected from the sun, salt, acid, and any other items that can cause premature aging.

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Should there be any metal surfaces on your boat, polishing these regularly will keep them looking fantastic and protect them from the elements. You’ll need to figure out what type of metal you’re dealing with and get the right polish. It will be applied with a soft cloth in a circular motion, and this will clean it and keep the metal protected from rust.

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Cleaning Boat Seats

More than likely, the seats in your boat are made from vinyl. Not only will salt and water take their toll on this material, but the sun, sunscreen, and other dirt and grime can also cause damage. Using a vinyl cleaner and wiping the seats down after being on the water can be helpful for keeping them from being damaged.

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It’s not really recommended to get seat covers for your boat. These can allow water to get trapped in between the layers, which can then cause a lot of problems, including the growth of mold and mildew. You might consider sitting on towels when in the boat, but then removing these and letting the seats dry will keep them looking good.

Cleaning Boat Carpet

It doesn’t take long for carpet in a boat to get dirty and develop a smell. More often than not, this material is incredibly tough and durable, but it will still need a good cleaning every once in a while. Picking up fishhooks as soon as possible will ensure that they don’t get trapped in the carpet fibers.

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In many ways, you can clean your boat carpet like you clean your home carpet. You can run a vacuum over it and spot clean any messes that might occur. You can even shampoo it every once in a while to remove ground-in dirt and debris and get rid of any smells that might develop.


If you are lucky enough to own a boat, then you’ll want to make sure you are taking care of it properly to ensure that it will last for a long time. This means doing boat cleaning on a regular basis and using the right cleaning products. Cleaning the interior and exterior of the boat not only makes it look good but protects it from various elements, including things that are found in the water.

Last update on 2022-06-30 at 09:10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API