Boating is booming right now! In 2020, 415,000 first-time buyers discovered their dream of boat ownership.

Were you among them?

Whether you just bought your first boat or you’ve been out on the water for decades, you understand the importance of boat cleaning and maintenance. What’s not as obvious is how to clean a boat the right way — without potentially damaging it.

Keep reading for four expert boat cleaning tips you can start using today.

1. Gather Your Boat Cleaning Tools

First of all, don’t even think about using your home cleaning products on your boat! Both the interior and exterior surfaces of your boat are made with very different materials than you’ll find inside your home.

Make sure you have these tools in your arsenal:

  • Microfiber rags/sponges
  • Deck brush
  • Chamois towels/mops
  • Boat squeegee
  • Bilge pump
  • Boat hose
  • Scrub brushes
  • Upholstery brushes
  • Soap foam sprayer

As far as cleaning supplies, choose only products that are specifically made for boats. This includes vinyl cleaner, teak cleaner, chrome cleaner, and water stain remover.

2. Clean Interior Surfaces

If your boat’s interior has marine carpet, first use a vacuum to remove loose debris and dirt. Then give the floor an old-fashioned scrub-down with soap, water, and a stiff-bristle brush.

Do the same with any non-slip fiberglass areas and finish using a specialized non-skid treatment. Wipe down your vinyl with a soft rag and soapy water, and use only a dedicated marine vinyl cleaner on tough stains.

Once a month, run a few cups of white vinegar through the lines to keep your marine heads clean and deposit-free.

3. Clean Exterior Surfaces

To keep the hull shiny and free of oxidation, apply a base coat of paste wax every spring. Each month, give your boat’s hull an application of liquid carnauba wax. After every use, wash your boat’s exterior with a “wash n’ wax” marine soap.

Use a large, soft sponge to make gentle circular motions, taking care not to damage the paint. Always finish by rinsing the hull with fresh water.

4. Clean the Boat Engine

If you have an outboard engine, wax the cowl and exterior and wash them down with soap and water after every use. Never use an abrasive bristle brush; always opt for a wash mitt or microfiber cloth.

If you have an inboard engine, you’ll want to do a superficial wipe after each use. Since there are electrical wires and other components that can easily be damaged, however, leave the heavy-duty engine cleaning to the pros.

While you’re down there, this is also the time to make sure your engine is still in good working order. Read this now to learn how to identify the most common boat engine problems.

How to Clean a Boat (In 4 Easy Steps)

You understand the importance of boat cleaning, but knowing how to keep a boat clean isn’t always easy. Follow the boat cleaning tips above to keep your boat in pristine condition all year long!

Now that you know how to clean a boat (without damaging it), what comes next? Keep browsing our site for more helpful lifestyle advice.