How to Clean a Boat

With summer just around the corner, many people are preparing for their annual boat cleaning. Boat cleaning is an essential part of ensuring that your vessel stays in good condition.

It can be tempting to take shortcuts and not do much to it during the winter months. This will only lead to more significant problems down the line. Many boating accidents happen because of boat uncleanliness.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about how to clean a boat.

Whenever you feel ready to educate yourself on this important boat maintenance topic, keep on reading.

Why Should You Clean Your Boat?

There are several reasons to clean your boat before putting it into storage.

First, you don't want the inside of your boat to get moldy during the winter months. Mold can increase and lead to all sorts of problems for both yourself and your family members who use the vessel regularly.

Second, keeping up with these tasks will help ensure no damage is done when spring rolls around, and it's time to head out onto open water again.

Finally, having a clean boat makes it easier just in general if you have guests coming over for an afternoon at sea. It makes fishing from its deck area, a fun activity.

It may seem like more work than necessary. But think about how much simpler things will be once everything has been cleaned up and you're ready to take off.

Critical Parameters of a Clean Boat

It is important to note that different types of boats require slightly different cleaning steps. However, there are a few parameters that most vessels share in common, and you should perform these tasks on any ship before the winter sets in:

  • Cleaning out all saltwater deposits from inside your vessel (especially after fishing trips)
  • Washing down the deck with soap and water
  • Making sure everything is dry both outside and inside
  • Removing debris such as leaves or branches if you've been cruising through wooded areas
  • Checking for small cracks around the boat's structure where water may have seeped into during rainstorms/high seas 

Lastly, it is essential that you check your boat's engine. You should also examine other mechanical components for damage or malfunctioning parts.

If there are issues in need of repair, make sure they get taken care of before storing the vessel away. You need to start with a plan on working on them over winter break when schedules aren't as busy.

How to Clean Your Boat: Step-By-Step Guide

Now that you know why it's essential to clean your boat, let us take a look at the step-by-step guide for carrying out this task. This should give you all of the information that you need to get started.

Wash Deck

Wash down the deck with soap and water using a soft bristle brush or sponge if necessary - be sure not to scrub too hard as this can damage wood decks, especially when they are still wet from winter rain.

Rinse off thoroughly afterward until there are no more suds left on the surface. Allow dry naturally (if possible). Otherwise, make sure everything is completely dried before moving on to the next steps.

If your vessel's deck has a waterproofing resin applied (a thin film over the wood), you should not wash it down with water. This can strip off that layer and damage your boat.

Clean Hull

Move onto the boat's hull. Using the same soft bristle brush or sponge, wipe downsides/bottom to remove any dirt.

If there are areas around rivets where scum is tough to remove, try adding some baking soda paste. Gently scrub away after allowing it time to work its magic – then rinse thoroughly afterward until no more soap or residue remains.

If you have an older wooden vessel rather than one made from fiberglass, pay extra attention when cleaning parts. They may need sanding/repairing first before applying a new stain or sealant.

Check for Cracks

Next, you'll want to check for any cracks in the hull. If there are even just a few small ones that have formed over time, be sure to take care of them right away rather than waiting until spring.

You can use an excellent exterior caulking and sealing agent that is designed specifically with boats in mind. This is so as not to ruin your vessel's structure.

If you notice holes from animals who have been using it as their home base during colder months, this will require more extensive repair work. It should still get taken care of over winter break when schedules aren't quite as busy.

Check Engine & Other Parts

It is a good idea to check your boat's engine and other mechanical parts of the vessel for any damage or malfunctioning components. If there are issues in need of repair, be sure you get them fixed before winter break so that they do not worsen over time while the vessel is away from use.

Be sure to add some extra oil into all lubrication points such as gears, axles, and bearings when checking these out - this will help with preventing rusting, which can further lead to damages if left unrepaired.

Dry & Remove Debris

Make sure everything has been dried off completely outside and inside. Remove debris such as leaves or branches (if cruising through a marshy area etc.) and store safely away for winter break.

If you have removed such things as rodents or other pests from inside the boat, be sure to clean out any leftover droppings before storing them away with a plan on taking care of them during the spring semester when you have more time on your hands.

Lock-up Everything

It is always a good idea to keep everything locked up correctly - if there are any supplies or tools left out in an unsecured area that thieves can get their hands on, they might take them.

This also applies when it comes to cleaning the vessel itself. Do not leave keys for the engine laying around where anyone could get access to them either!

Store all supplies and equipment safely away somewhere no one else has access to so as not to lose anything of value over spring break while the boat is being stored.

What Kind of Materials to Use for Boat Cleaning?

Now that you know what goes into cleaning a boat, what kind of supplies should you use? Well, there are a few different options to consider. For water-based cleaners and lubricants, it is best to stick with ones labeled "marine" or specifically for boats - this will ensure they do not ruin the vessel's structure while still doing their job effectively.

If using some oils for engine parts etc., be sure only to apply them sparingly as too much can cause problems, just like too little. If unsure about specific product types/quantities needed per application, always consult with professional guidance before applying anything at all!

If instead opting towards dry materials such as polishing cloths/pads, you'll want to look for ones that are designed explicitly as boat polishing pads or bars - these can be used on fiberglass surfaces just as well. Just remember, the only way to get an immaculate boat is by using both wet and dry materials in conjunction with one another.

When Is the Right Time to Clean a Boat?

The best time to clean a boat is when it's winter, and this means that you should start cleaning before the summer season begins so your boat will be ready for use once spring arrives.

By doing this, you can avoid having too much pressure on yourself as well because the work won't pile up over weeks or months of waiting until the right moment comes along.

Furthermore, it would help if you took advantage of the winter months to clean your boat because it will be easier for you to get access. Since boats are usually stored indoors during winters, there is no risk that any rain or snow might damage them.

This means that when cleaning season finally arrives, everything will be nice and dry, which makes it even more important not to use too much water while washing your boat.

Winter Cleaning

However, many people live in climates with no winter. If that's the case, you don't need to worry because there are other alternatives. For example, you can do all of the work during spring and summer when your boat is out in the water.

Another benefit of cleaning a boat outside the winter months is how much time one has available for this type of task. If we live in colder climates, then many people prefer spending their weekends indoors with family and friends rather than on boats which means they have less free time at hand compared to those who live further south, where winters usually aren't as harsh as they tend to be up north.

However, if you have a boat that's an exception to this rule and it gets used all year round, then feel free to clean whenever is convenient for you. In the end, it will still be important not to wait too long before starting with maintenance work so your boat can continue being in great shape throughout its lifespan.

Should You Get Your Maintenance Done While Cleaning?

Another critical question that we should address when talking about cleaning a boat is whether or not it makes sense to get its maintenance done simultaneously. Let's start by sharing some insights on this matter:

If you don't want to take in your vessel and wait for weeks until everything gets finished, then it might be best to do all of the work yourself while having someone else help out with specific tasks such as engine parts inspection/maintenance.

 Working with an experienced professional who knows what they're doing, there shouldn't be any problem getting both routine inspections performed alongside exterior clean-up - especially if you can afford these services. After all, this would make much more sense than letting them go unattended for months or even years!

DIY & Routine Inspections

If you're under a time constraint, then it's best to get all of the work done yourself while having someone else handle just one part. For example, have someone help out with boat waxing while you take care of everything else yourself.

This is an easy way to save some money and obtain better results if we know how to do something. However, we should always make sure that whoever we hire knows what they're doing before getting their assistance in completing any tasks, especially when our safety may be at risk - like working on high areas such as roofs.

Also, keep in mind that since most people usually clean their boats once per year, this would be the best time to get maintenance work done because parts will likely need replacing.

If you don't want to lose money by buying new ones, then it's worth getting routine inspections performed beforehand. This is so you'll know exactly when one should replace them.

This is especially critical for components such as batteries and alternators that are expensive yet crucial - if we wait too long before obtaining them, there might not even be enough time left until our boat gets used again!

Your Boat Is Ready for Anything

After reading the article, you should now be familiar with how to clean a boat and when it makes sense to get its maintenance done while working on it.

Your vessel will always stay in great shape during spring or summer by following all of these simple steps!

If you're interested in joining the oldest and largest boat club in the US, get in touch with us and we will happily accommodate your presence.