Keeping your boat clean is a task that needs to be done several times a year. Even if your boat is kept under wraps, you will most likely still have problems with stains and odors. Everyone has their own favorite products to use, but there are 4 categories of product that are necessary to every boat cleaning kit:
1- Basic Detergents
The most important consideration for your boat cleaning supplies is that any soaps or cleaners should be biodegradable. Not only are you going to rinse away those detergents during the cleaning process, but residue is going to remain behind and end up in the waters you boat in.
Use detergents which fully dissolve into your wash water, such as Oxy Clean, and avoid cleansers and pastes. The idea is to take care of the surfaces you are cleaning, and abrasive cleansers will scratch the surfaces you use them on.
For glass and Plexiglas, vinegar is often a better idea than commercial glass cleaning formulas. It is completely biodegradable, and performs just as well as any of those blue cleaners in a spray bottle. Be sure to use a soft cloth, as we will discuss later.
2 - Stain Removers
There are quite a few stain removers on the market. Simple Green is a popular one that can even be used on seats and boat cushions. On the other hand, vinegar works almost as well, and can be used throughout the boat, giving you far more performance for your money.
For exceptionally tough stains, make a mixture of detergent, water, and bleach. Saturate a cleaning cloth with the mixture and place it firmly over the stain for a few minutes. Once the bleach and soap have had a chance to do their job, continue cleaning the boat as usual, and be sure to rinse well when you are done.
3 - Boat and Deck Brushes
There are a few things that need to be considered when choosing a brush for boat cleaning. First, consider purchasing two brushes, to give you more cleaning options. You need one with bristles firm enough to remove dirt on non-skid surfaces, and another brush that is soft enough so that it does not scratch the smooth surfaces of the boat. The shape of the brushes are important as well, since you need to be able to get into curves and small places, but want to finish the boat cleaning as quickly as possible. To this end, select brushes that are thin and wide so that you can turn them sideways to get into small places, but still cover a decent amount of boat surface. Finally, choose a brush with a removable handle. A telescoping handle is your best bet, but make sure to get one that still has suitable strength when it is fully extended.
4 - Cleanup Cloths
You could use old T-shirts for your rags, but using specially designed microfiber sheets will give you better results. Microfiber cloths are thick, like a towel, and soft enough to use on every surface, including glass, Plexiglas, and metal. They are versatile enough to use throughout the boat, and keeping a couple on-board to clean up messes while you are boating will reduce stains and odors between cleaning.
Wax When Done
When you have finished the cleaning process, apply a good, marine quality wax coat. Not only does this prevent dirt build up, it also helps protect the boat from UV rays which cause fading and damage to upholstery. If you use your boat frequently, you probably don’t have to wax after every cleaning, but make sure to do so at least 2 or 3 times a year.
Removing your boat from the water when it is not in use will reduce staining at the waterline. For best results, use a boat cover as well, to prevent birds and other animals from making a mess while the boat is sitting idle. In addition to protecting your boat, a boat lift is also a great way to increase your property value.