How to Clean a Boat: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Clean a Boat

Total boat detailing can cost up to $20 per foot. For a 30-foot boat, that means you’ll have to put out $600 to get your boat looking fresh.

Knowing how to clean a boat can save you hundreds. All you’ll need to invest in is the right materials and, of course, your time.

To get your boat back into ship shape, read on. This list walks you through all the steps you’ll need to take.

Rinse First

The best way to start exterior boat cleaning is with a thorough rinse. Algae, aquatic plants, and dirt can build up on your boat’s exterior. If left uncleaned, these can scrape up your boat’s paint and damage its finish.

Rinsing your boat after every outing will limit this. Make sure you’re not letting any debris dry on the surface of your boat.

Use Soap

The best way to tackle boat washing is by doing one small section at a time. You’ll want to use a solution that’s made for boats especially. And don’t let the soap dry on your boat before you get the chance to rinse it off again.

Use this step to loosen any dried grime or algae that’s accumulated. Sometimes this happens on the bottom of your boat where it’s difficult to see.

Here it’s helpful to have a wash mitt or a set of brushes with soft bristles. Try not to use hard bristles on your boat. Softer brushes will preserve your boat’s gel coating.

Buff and Shine

Take your boat care to the next level with a buff and shine. The essential supplies here would be buffing balls or a rotary buffer. Both of those can be used to prep your boat’s exterior for waxing.

Take your time as you buff your boat and make sure you cover its full surface. Remove any signs of oxidation or rust. To keep your boat looking beautiful, try to buff and wax your boat at least twice a year.

Apply Wax

The final step in your boat maintenance plan is applying the wax. Do this as you did the other steps, a little bit at a time.

Don’t try to wax the entire left or right side of your boat at once. Start with small areas and gradually finish the full project.

Wax will add a gorgeous shine to your boat while protecting its gel coat or paint from harm. The more regularly you wax, the less often you’ll have to get your boat detailed at the shop.

Tackle the Interior

Interior boat cleaning should include spot cleaning, sweeping or dusting, and vacuuming. If you’ve got carpet in your boat, make sure you’re vacuuming once or twice a month. Spot clean any stains as they arise.

Twice a year or so, steam clean your carpet or have it professionally cleaned. Wipe down all surfaces with disinfectant wipes that won’t damage its coating.

Finally, be sure to polish poles and other metal details. Brush down your shade and make sure it’s free of stains and spots.

Now You Know How to Clean a Boat

Now you know the essentials of how to clean a boat without breaking the bank. Once you have the right supplies, keeping your boat in great shape is a breeze. Enlist a friend or family member to help you tackle the project and don’t neglect the interior.

Happy sailing! And speaking of, if you’re looking for new places to take your boat, check out our Travel section.

How to Clean a Boat: A Step-by-Step Guide

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