A Comprehensive Guide to Cleaning your Boat and Detailing

Owning a boat is fun — until you have to clean it. But any boatman knows that cleaning your boat is essential to keeping it in excellent shape.

Sure, there are boat cleaning and detailing services everywhere. And for $15-$40 per foot depending on your boat type, you can just sit back, relax and let the pros do the job. But if you are a boat owner who loves to be “hands-on” with your watercraft, then here are some tips and tricks that might be useful for maintaining your boat in tip-top shape.

Washing Routine

First things first — an efficient boat cleaning routine begins with loosening up any debris by soaking. Cleaning is much easier with the boat’s surface wet besides, brushing it dry might cause damage. Divide the boat into areas and clean them in sequence. It is not advisable to wash the whole boat at once.

Wash your boat with soapy water or any boat cleaner brand of your choice. Use a scrub brush, sponges and smooth cloth to wash, rinse and dry it thoroughly. Once the general washing routine is done, next in line is boat detailing.

Boat Cleaning Requisite

How you clean a boat depends on its hull type and its composition. Cleaning routines for an aluminium-hulled boat differs from that of a fiberglass hulled type. Each specific type requires appropriate tools and cleaning materials.

Some basic know-how paired with the right tools and products can help you achieve a professional finish without spending too much money.

Cleaning and Detailing a Wooden Deck Boat

If your boat has a wooden deck, you do not want it to be stuck with saltwater precipitate, tarnished with stains or look too aged. Simply applying a premium teak cleaner is perfectly suitable to remove such stains and nasty weathering leftovers. It also prepares the wood for oiling. Oiling the wood blocks the sun’s harsh UV rays, removes salt precipitates, and prevents nasty acids in tarnishing the beauty of the wood. 

Cleaning and Detailing Aluminium Hulled Boat

A strong acid cleaner can cause scouring and blotching on your aluminium boat hull. Boat cleaners like Septone MCA1 are recommended — its mild acidity working with the aid of a scrubbing pad effectively etches the stains brought about by harsh seawater. It can even minimise surface dullness caused by oxidation without damaging the hull.

When using aluminium boat cleaners, start from the bottom part and move upwards in small areas only. Continuously rinse the cleaned area with fresh water so that no left acid cleaner dries up. This will ensure that no drip marks will be imprinted permanently.

Since you are handling an acid cleaner, make sure to observe safety precautions like wearing gloves, masks or protective eyewear that are resistant to acids or chemicals. After the good wash, aluminium boats are best detailed by aluminium polish. The polymers in the polish can maintain a good finishing look, provide UV rays protection and even neutralise acid leftovers enhancing the appearance of your boat top notch.

Cleaning and Detailing a Fibreglass Hulled Boat

Gelcoat is the surface coating of fibre glass. Aside from protection, it also gives off a shiny and smooth finish. When exposed to harsh conditions, the beauty of the gel coat might wear out over time and may cause susceptibility to the intrusion of unwanted water inside the fiberglass.

So, when you have to clean and detail a fiberglass hulled boat, you just have to maintain the condition of the gelcoat. It does not require regular washing for it will peel off the wax.  A week after being left alone in the weather is just the perfect time to clean up the dirt and grime.

The dirt can be easily washed away using a boat soap, wiping it with a smooth cloth and rinsing it with fresh water thoroughly. Dry it off with a squeegee and finish it off with a less abrasive wash mitt. More than just the wash, you can detail it by adding a glosser afterward to bring out its brand-new shiny look.

Interior Cleaning

The inside of the boat is just as important to clean as the outside. A marine recreation multi-surface cleaner will do the trick and ease the burden of cleaning stubborn spots inside. When it comes to oil, grease and transmission fluid spots, the Star Brite bilge cleaner will surely get rid of it while leaving a fresh smell of citrus. As for the engine, you can clean it seasonal using a Boeshield cleaner or other appropriate products.

Cleaning the Engine

The engine cannot be taken for granted. Regular lubrication is a must to avoid engine damage. If you opt to do the degreasing yourself, you may want to use some products like WD-40 engine cleaner and Boeshield to give your engine the best protection against engine moisture. Just make sure to follow instructions in using the products detailed by manufacturers. Asking a professional mechanic service is a good choice if you want the task done excellently in no time.

Cleaning the Carpet

Just like your typical carpets at home, regular cleaning is a must. It does not easily wear out so there is no need to replace it every now and then. Vacuum cleaning, spot cleaning, and thorough overall cleaning will keep the stains and smelly fish odor away. If hardened stains and spots are present, steam cleaning is also recommended.

Summarising the Boat Cleaning and Detailing Process

A great boat comes with great cleaning and detailing inside and out. For your vessel to wear its crowning glory for a long period of time, here’s a list of the process you can follow in craft cleaning and detailing in general:

1. Prepare the right cleaning equipment

2. Start off with a rinse

3. Soap it up

4. Buff it up

5. Apply wax

6. Make metals shine

7. Clean and degrease engine

8. Maintain and protect wood color

9. Maintain a glossy fiberglass gelcoat

10. Detail your vessel parts

There’s a certain kind of pride that comes with cleaning your boat yourself. With a bit of hard work, know-how, and the right tools, your boat will be spick and span before its next adventure — thanks to you, its captain.

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