Boat Cleaning Tips
Boat Cleaning Tips
Some boat owners go overboard (pardon the pun) when it comes to cleaning their boats. They seem to spend more time scrubbing and polishing their vessels than actually cruising or fishing in them. While keeping a craft clean is definitely an important aspect of boat ownership, it’s not necessary to spend long, backbreaking hours to keep your boat looking like new. You simply have to equip yourself with the right tools/products and clean your boat regularly and efficiently. While a little bit of “elbow grease” never hurts, the key is to clean your boat “smarter” not “harder.” This means developing an effective cleaning routine, and making this ritual a habit after each trip. The following pointers will help preserve your boat’s good looks and protect your valuable recreational asset from the unforgiving marine environment.
Choose the Right Cleaning Equipment
Before selecting your cleaning equipment and products, consider the type of boat you have and its composition. This will ensure that you have the right tools and materials in hand for the job. Choose cleaning brushes that are sturdy and will get rid of stubborn dirt, grime and salt, without damaging the finish or gel coat on your boat. A long, sturdy handle on a scrub brush will allow you to reach hard-to-clean areas without bending down, provide leverage, and help eliminate strain on your back and arms. The brush portion should also be right for the specific application. Don’t use a brush that’s too rough, or it could damage your boat’s finish. For most situations, a brush with medium-soft bristles will do just fine. Whatever type or brand of brush you select, make sure the bristle material is durable and strong enough to withstand repeated use, sun exposure, cleaning agents and salt water. In addition to a good scrub brush, be sure to have other necessities, such as a bucket (large enough for your brush), washing pads, a mop, sponges, chamois cloths and towels handy. Store these items in the same place each time, so you won’t have to search for them.
Select a Good, Environmentally-Friendly Soap
For marine use, you’ll want to select a soap that will be tough on dirt, grime, salt and fish blood, yet easy on the environment. Don’t use the same soap you would for cleaning dishes at home. Instead, select an effective, biodegradable cleaning agent with a neutral pH factor. If you use your craft in salt water, it’s especially important to use soap and fresh water to completely remove the corrosive salt build-up that can eat away at your boat. Be sure to follow the written instructions on the cleaning product regarding dilution and general usage. Be aware that certain “super concentrated” detergents may not be suitable for your boat, as these cleansers can strip away and damage finishes when left on for extended periods of time.
Get Ready for Some Good Clean Fun
Once you have the right cleaning tools and soap at your fingertips, it’s time to start cleaning. While you’ll still have to supply some “muscle,” using the proper equipment and soap will make giving your boat a bath an easier, quicker process. Before you think about applying any cleaning agents or touching the hull with a scrub brush, make sure you rinse the entire boat off completely. Whatever you do, never scrub a dry boat or you will risk damaging the finish or gel coat. When you clean, work from the top down. Lather up with a sponge soaked in the soapy solution, scrub, and rinse sections of your boat at a time. If you try to apply a soap and water to the entire boat at once, portions may dry before you can get around to them for scrubbing. If you have an outboard-powered boat, don’t forget to lather up and rinse off the motor as well as the lower drive unit, prop area and motor mounts, where corrosive salt and dirt tends to accumulate. When it comes to scrubbing the deck, you can use the same cleaning solution you use for your hull and your long-handled scrub brush. Some boat owners choose to scrub their decks with bleach, however, this is a toxic substance that’s harmful to the environment. For more environmentally friendly deck cleaning, use a Borax or Hydrogen Peroxide solution instead.
Soak Things Up
Use soft drying cloths that are highly absorbent and will soak up water without stripping or scratching. Chamois cloths or drying mops made of chamois material are good choices. To avoid “spotting,” be sure to dry off your boat immediately after washing and rinsing.
Wax On, Wax Off
Once you have dried off your boat completely, you may want to apply a quality wax and buff to shine and protect the fiberglass. It’s not really necessary to wax your boat after every use, but this should be done at least once or twice during the season to preserve the luster of the hull and protect against the elements and impurities. Use a quality carnauba wax and apply several coats
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