Water, especially salt water, UV light, and wind can be harsh on watercrafts, and those that are not well-maintained will deteriorate faster than they ought to. It’s surely not something you want to happen to your investment.
Moreover, negligence can cause small issues to build up overtime just like they do in cars; but, unlike cars, you cannot just pull your boat over and call a towing company when you suddenly notice something wrong while you’re in the ocean.
Because of these, cleaning your boat properly should be part of your routine.
Still, keeping your vessel in tip-top condition does not have to be so tedious and backbreaking that your concern over cleaning already hinders you from enjoying your boating trips.
What you need is to have the right cleaning materials and a positive mindset to get it done.
Remember, once you become familiar with how to do it, you get to build an effective cleaning routine that becomes easier over time. It will eventually turn into a ritual whenever you come back from your adventures.
Here are some tips in boat cleaning and maintenance:
· Choose the right tools
It goes without saying that different surfaces or different parts of your boat require different tools for cleaning. Familiarize yourself with the components of your vessel and what materials they are made of.
From there, you can make the right decisions on which cleaning tools you would need.
Often, you’d need different brushes with varying bristle hardness. Soft and medium-soft bristles are recommended so as not to scratch your boat’s finish.
Brushes with harder bristles may be used for parts that go below the water line.
When choosing brushes, make sure that they are sturdy enough to withstand constant use as well as exposure to salt water and sunlight. You may want ones that have handles so you can clean those hard-to-reach places without having to strain yourself.
Also, have a bucket that would fit your brush, a mop, washing pads and sponges, as well as towels and chamois cloths.
· Use clean water
Giving your boat a good wash is the most basic yet most effective way to keep your vessel clean and free of substances that could eventually cause damage.
Salt water, in particular, is not only corrosive to metals and boat finishes, it also stains glass and can become abrasive when it dries up and turns into crystal.
So, no matter how tired you may be after your boat trip, give your vessel a proper washdown with freshwater to prevent salt water from settling, both on the outside and the parts that are not in view.
· Use the proper solutions
There are times when water is not enough to clear your boat of substances, so you may need to use cleaners. However, it’s best not to use just any product, because some of those available in stores may damage rather than clean your boat’s surfaces.
When deciding which soap to use, opt for products that have been made specifically for use on boats.
Choose one that is able to remove salt buildup as well as dirt and grime, and perhaps even blood from fish that you catch, but it should also be biodegradable and environment-friendly.
Avoid abrasive or chlorinated solutions and find one with a neutral pH, meaning it should neither be acidic nor alkaline.
Before using any product, make sure to read and follow instructions regarding its use and the proportion when diluting.
One of the most likely reasons you bought your boat is because you love the water and the peace and adventure it brings, so kindly make sure that when you clean your boat, the cleaners that you use do not harm marine life.
· Be methodical
Remember, never scrub your boat when it’s dry because of the risk of scratching the finish. Clean a portion at a time, going from top to bottom.
Start from front to back or back to front instead of at a random spot, since this will saving you both time and effort and keep you from going back to where you have already cleaned.
Work on a portion of the boat at a time, washing and scrubbing it with lathery solution and then rinsing. Make sure to dry the area immediately after you rinse to prevent water marks or spots from appearing.
Use drying cloths like chamois and mops to absorb the water and dry everything up.
It is not advised to soap your boat all at once because some portions may dry out before you get the chance to scrub them.
· Don’t overlook the small stuff
It’s easy to ignore or overlook those corner because they are not immediately seen. However, you need to make sure to clean even those nooks and crannies because it’s where dirt, grime, and salt can build up without getting noticed.
Clean everything, from the deck to the motor mounts, lower unit, and other areas, as well as the deck drains, the window frames, etc.
· Clean your engine
This should become part of your annual boat maintenance ritual to make sure that your engine does not give out on you all of a sudden while you’re on a boating trip.
Some boat owners are able to do this themselves, but if you’re not confident, then let an expert boat mechanic degrease your engine for you as well as remove any dirt and grime that has built up.
Make sure that grease is re-applied to those parts that need to be lubricated.
· Make it gleam
After you’ve cleaned and dried your boat, you may want to make it sparkle. Apply wax where needed, such as on fiberglass. This will not only bring out the luster but will also protect the surface.
Make sure to make the glass on your boat clear using non-abrasive cloth. For the metals like the stainless steel and chrome designs, use the appropriate cleaners and sealants to protect them from the harsh elements. Similarly, you need to use the appropriate cleaning products for the wood and leather or vinyl upholstery on your boat.
Carpets need to vacuumed often. Also, have them professionally cleaned on a regular basis to keep dirt, germs, and allergens from building up.
· Opt to be cautious
A boat is not cheap, so it’s important to give it proper care. However, make sure to not go overboard in trying to clean it.
Take the time to select the right tools and products, and opt for solutions that are not harsh or brushes that are not too hard. Read and follow manufacturers’ instructions to avoid any unwanted damage.
It is also advised to have your boat professionally cleaned at least once a year to make certain that all those parts that you are unable to reach get the scrubbing they need.
Keeping your boat clean and properly maintained will not only make it look good, it will also prolong its life and make your investment worthwhile.
Moreover, a clean and well-maintained engine will ensure your and passengers’ safety while you’re having fun on the water.