Cleaning the Outside of Your Boat Like a Pro

The Ultimate Guide: Cleaning the Outside of Your Boat Like a Pro

Whether you’re new to the marine lifestyle or a veteran with watercraft, a crucial element of boat ownership is knowing how and when to clean it to ensure it remains functional and beautiful for as long as possible. That’s why we at Clean Boat US are here to offer the ultimate guide to cleaning the outside of your boat! We’ll run you through the timetable you should follow and the techniques that will keep your hull gleaming no matter the season. Make sure your investment is protected for years to come!

When to Clean

While various factors will determine exactly how often you need to clean your craft, there are some general rules you can use as a baseline to get started. At the very least, you want to make sure you’re rinsing (fresh water only!) and drying your boat after every outing, especially if it’s being put in salt water. You need to hose everything down before salt and other concentrates dry to your hull, and you shouldn’t need to use soap every time—too much will actually break down any wax you’ve applied.

Beyond that, a more thorough cleaning every four to 12 weeks is best, depending on where your boat is being stored. If it’s being kept in water, it will need more frequent cleanings to prevent rusting and a buildup of algae and other sea life. If it’s on land and covered up, more sporadic washes are fine but still necessary to keep it free of dust accumulation, bugs, and chemicals in the air. Whatever schedule you work out, it needs to be consistent enough to make sure your boat is never so dirty that it needs industrial-strength chemicals or soaps to get clean, as most marinas have banned their use to protect the ecosystem of their water.

Outside of rinses, a wax job should keep your boat protected for around two to four months before requiring a reapplication, and a sealant should last an entire boating season. Other detailing work can be done as needed when you think it’s required!

Step-by-Step Cleaning Guide

Now that we know when to clean our craft, let’s break down the individual steps:

  1. First, the obvious: thoroughly rinse your boat with fresh water to remove salt, dirt, and other contaminants. Start at the highest point and work your way down so that dirty water isn’t falling onto areas you’ve already cleaned.
  2. Fill a bucket with water and add an exterior boat cleaner specifically designed for watercraft. Don’t use any household products—their pH balance may damage your hull.
  3. From the top down, gently wipe small areas of your boat with a soft cloth or towel soaked in your cleaner. Don’t scrub too hard or use any coarse brushes; you may scratch something! Once each section is clean, immediately hose it down to ensure soap doesn’t dry to the surface.
  4. Give your hull a final rinse. Let the water gradually run down as you finish to minimize water spots.
  5. Use a high-absorption towel or chamois to completely dry every spot you washed. Be quick and efficient to make sure you get a streak-free finish.
  6. Finally, buff the surface if you need to do any waxing and/or sealing. Sealants can be abrasive, but they’re useful so long as you use one designed for gel coat finishes. Don’t use any designed for cars!

Other Tips

Let’s wrap this guide up with some assorted tips to ensure you’re doing everything right:

  • If using a hose to rinse your craft, make sure it’s set to a lower pressure. You want enough intensity to thoroughly remove salt, algae, and other contaminants, but not so much that it could cause damage or remove any wax.
  • If your hull has extensive moss, barnacle, or algae growth on it, muriatic acid is ideal for safely removing the buildup.
  • Make sure you’re using a marine water repellent on your craft’s windshield to prevent water spots from building up and obscuring your vision.
  • Use gloves and goggles whenever you clean. You don’t want any chemicals or detritus getting into your eyes or inflaming the skin on your hands!
  • Learning how to clean your boat by hand is a skill, so it takes patience and practice to get right. So long as you’re doing it regularly and researching what products you’re using, your craft will be just fine!
Get your cleaning journey started with a reliable exterior boat cleaner from Clean Boat US today! A few extra minutes of preventative maintenance is always worth the effort in the long run, because it’ll save you hours of hard scrubbing or expensive professional work later down the line! Make sure you have all of the required materials that you need, and you’ll be back on the water for years to come! Contact us today to order yours!
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