How to Clean Boat Seats: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Clean Boat Seats: A Comprehensive Guide

In our last few blog posts, we’ve talked a lot about cleaning the exterior of your boat, from the best products to proper cleaning techniques. This week, the experts at Clean Boat US are changing it up and walking you through the right way to clean the inside of your watercraft: specifically, the seats! We’ll walk you through what boat seat cleaners to look for, how to maintain your chairs’ vinyl, and more. Let’s get started!

Steps for Cleaning

First, here’s a quick rundown for cleaning your seats—nothing fancy, but sure to get the job done! It’s best to wash them after every use, or at the very least once a week. If your craft is being kept indoors and in a controlled environment, once a month will suffice.

  1. The golden rule: always rinse your seats with fresh water after every use, even if they appear clean. Plenty of contaminants—sunscreen, salt water, sweat, bug repellent—can be left behind without any visible residue.
  2. Use a soft rag and gentle soap (basic dish soap works great) to thoroughly wipe them down.
  3. Don’t scrub too hard to try to remove stains. Instead, soak the seat, soap it up, then let it sit for a few minutes to give the grime a chance to loosen up. Give the chair another gentle wipe, then repeat the process until the vinyl is clean.
  4. Don’t let your seats air dry. Instead, make sure you fully dry them with a towel—any moisture left in high humidity is likely to breed mildew.
  5. Eventually, stains will become more stubborn and leave behind ugly black dots. When this happens, you’ll need a dedicated vinyl cleaner. Make sure you wash the seats down afterwards, dry them, and apply a vinyl protectant!

Now, here are some things to avoid while cleaning your seats:

  1. Power washing: It’s efficient, for sure, but it can focus too much pressure on a single spot and rip a hole through your chair covers.
  2. Magic Erasers: While these are great for removing dirt and scuff marks, they’ll also strip your seats of their protective outer coating.
  3. Degreasers: Like the Magic Erasers, degreasers are great for keeping your chairs looking great, but they’ll wipe away the protective coating.

Removing Mold & Mildew

Being constantly exposed to water means that the threat of mold and mildew always needs to be dealt with. Here are some rules for treating it:

  1. Never use bleach! While it’s powerful and will remove stubborn fungus, it’ll also damage your vinyl by causing it to stiffen up and crack.
  2. Invest in a quality mildew remover. Make sure it’s designed specifically for boat (not home!) use and doesn’t contain bleach.
  3. Store your boat in a dry, ventilated area during the off-season to keep it protected from harsh weather conditions and moisture.

Keep Your Seats Fresh

Boat seat cleaners can go a long way in brightening up your watercraft’s interior, but they can only go so far. A little elbow grease and TLC will be the most effective tool in keeping your chairs beautiful and functional for years to come, so stay on top of your boat’s maintenance and treat it with respect after every use! And if you ever need a little extra help, give Clean Boat US a call. Contact us today!
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