Boat Maintenance 101: How Often Should You Clean Your Boat?

Boat Maintenance 101: How Often Should You Clean Your Boat?

If you own any type of vehicle, you know that regular cleaning is important. But when that vehicle is regularly exposed to water, maintenance becomes especially paramount to minimize the cosmetic and functional damage that it can cause: rust, electrical shorts, algae buildup, and much more. But how often should you clean your boat? As with any form of upkeep, there’s no one, simple answer, so the experts at Clean Boat US are here to advise you on when you should be pulling out the sponges and boat cleaners to give your watercraft a little elbow grease.

Because your cleaning schedule should be based around usage and the type of storage you’re employing, let’s look at the different factors that will determine the timing:

Exposure to Salt Water

We’ll start with the golden rule of boat maintenance, which is also the simplest: whenever your vehicle is exposed to salt water, it needs to be at the very least rinsed. Use fresh water and a good boat soap designed to remove salt, paying special attention to metal components and windows to make sure no salt is left to dry and erode the material underneath.

Be thorough: make sure you’re rinsing the deck, flushing the engine, and wiping down your boat trailer if the craft is being transported into dry storage! If it’s being kept in a saltwater slip, tilt the outboard motor to keep it out of the water and cover as much of the boat’s top as possible to keep it safe from splash and spray.

If you’re storing your boat on land, this is the best rule of thumb to follow for maintenance. Just be sure to do a more thorough, rigorous top-to-bottom cleaning with mild boat cleaners and chamois before putting it in storage.

In-Water Storage

Funnily enough, if your boat is kept in a slip, its hull needs to be cleaned less often the more it’s being taken out. At higher speeds, simply piloting your craft helps scrub your hull and prevent fouling. However, if it’s sitting in a slip for long stretches of time or is only being driven at very slow speeds, it can foul fast. If this is the case, you’ll want to clean the hull every four to twelve weeks. Never go more than three months without a wash!

Just where within that four-to-twelve week range you should be falling varies on where your boat is being stored:

  • Aim for less frequent cleanings if your craft is in water that is:
    • Cold
    • Fresh water
  • Aim for more frequent cleanings if your craft is in water that is:
    • Warm
    • Salt water
    • Exposed to a lot of tidal flow
    • Exposed to wastewater runoff

You can decrease your maintenance schedule if you’ve coated your hull in a protective paint, but it will wear off over time (and leech potentially dangerous chemicals into the water in the process), so make sure you’re performing regular inspections for visible erosion.

Covered Slips vs. Uncovered Slips

If your boat is in a covered slip, it’s safe from the elements and birds, but there’s a tradeoff: you have to contend with spider webs and droppings, which can create stains if not treated promptly. Find time to give your craft a quick but thorough wipe-down every three or four weeks if it’s not being used regularly, with a more serious cleaning every eight weeks. This is also good practice for crafts being kept in dry storage, as they’ll also have to deal with insects.

If it’s in an uncovered slip, you need to wash your boat once or twice a month to remove bird droppings and spray stains. Thorough waxing will help reduce the chance of staining, so try to reapply every three or four months.

Keep It Clean!

Owning a boat is a lot of fun, but like a pet, it needs to be taken care of to ensure it lives a long, healthy, happy life! Be smart about what products you’re using, be consistent with your cleaning, and you’re sure to enjoy it for many years to come. Need a little extra help? Contact us and order tried-and-true, natural boat cleaners from Clean Boat US!

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