Tips to Remove Barnacles from Your Boat (Without Causing Further Damage)

It happens to whales, and it can happen to your boat. Yes, we’re talking about a barnacle invasion. When barnacles harden on your boat, be aware that removing can be a labor-intensive process that could cause further damage, but it is also quite simple if you know what you’re doing. The more often you clean barnacles, the less difficult the job will be. If the removal task is too daunting, there are professional services that will remove the barnacles for you, but with a little research and practice, you can take care of this problem yourself in no time.

Secure boat insurance before attempting this yourself or hiring someone to work on your boat, as you want to ensure that you’ll be covered in the event of lasting damage. Removing the barnacles will keep the boat running smoothly and efficiently. Here are a couple of methods you can take: the scraping method, and the power washing method.

Scraping Method

This method requires heavy rubber gloves, eye protection, putty knife or paint scraper (not flimsy), stainless steel mesh glove, and lime remover. 

  1. First, you will need to protect your hands with heavy rubber gloves, otherwise, the rough surface will scratch them up. Also, put on eye protection. Sunglasses that fit well against the face can work, though goggles will be better.
  2. Use the putty knife or paint scraper to knock the barnacles loose. Work slowly and scrape to get under the edges of the barnacles. Metal scrapers have more strength, but be very careful not to damage the surface of the boat. It’s best to dull the edge first. If you choose a plastic tool, round off the edges to help prevent scratching the boat.
  3. Once the big pieces of barnacles have been removed, use the stainless steel mesh glove to remove the remaining finer particles from the surface.
  4. Once all the barnacles are removed, clean the surface with a lime cleaner to remove any remaining residue on the surface. After the surface is clean, consider applying a protective product for a slick base, making it easier to remove barnacles in the future.

Power Washing Method

You’ll need a power washer, rubber gloves, protective eyewear, hydrochloric acid, lime remover, and a scraper. 

This method is most effective with dry barnacles. Remove the boat from the water and allow the barnacles to dry for several weeks. 

Have a wide, open area to work in. Spray the barnacles with the power washer at an angle to get underneath the edge. Use caution as the pressure from the water may cause the barnacles to fly when they are released. Work in small sections until all of the barnacles are removed. Once the majority of the barnacles are removed, acid can be applied to the surface to aid in removing the remaining particles. Lastly, clean the surface with a lime remover and wash the propellers thoroughly.

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Mariners General Insurance Group was founded in 1959 to protect boat owners and marine business clients. We are marine insurance experts and insure boats worldwide – in every ocean on the planet. Marine insurance is critical if you own a boat or nautical business. Trust the professionals with all of your Boat Insurance needs – trust Mariners Insurance. Call us at (800) 992-4443 any time you have questions or concerns about insurance for your vessel or marine business.