How to Clean A Boat – Your Complete Guide

How to clean a Boat

The process of how to clean a boat can apply to most boats and vessels. Cleaning and washing a boat with some basic knowledge and having the right tools is not a difficult task. Some people enjoy washing a boat while others don’t. For those that do enjoy washing there boat its because it is there pride, passion and joy.

Before you begin you need to be mindful what material your boat is made from.

If you are going to be washing a painted boat for example you need to be careful of the painted surface. With high-pressure washers, for example, some paints that have not adhered properly to the substrate will simply peel under the high water pressure.

1. Surface Cleaning Preparation

First things first. Find out your boat surface finish. This is important because the last thing you want to do is high pressure wash a boat and have some paint peel.

Question – Can you use car wash on a boat? Absolutely. And its what I suggest. Water and a car wash based soap will clean gelcoat nicely. You don’t need an expensive product with a label that reads Boat Cleaner with a $25 price tag. Gelcoat is a super tough finish compared to car paint. So if the car wash is great for the car it definitely is great for your boat. Otherwise, find your self a sud rich soap-based boat wash gel. Soap based gels don’t remove waxes on a fibreglass boat so is a great option.

Keep away and don’t use any alkaline-based boat gel cleaners.

2. Cleaning a Fibreglass Boat

Fibreglass boats that have never been painted and have the original gelcoat are easy to wash. Treat the washing of your boat the same as your car.

You can wash a fibreglass boat 2 ways.

  • The first is by using a garden hose with low tap flowing water and spraying this over the surface of your boat.
  • Next, fill a bucket of water with a boat cleaning liquid made for fibreglass cleaning.
  • Proceed in washing the boat by hand until the boat has been fully washed.
  • All you need to do now is wash off the soap by rinsing the boat with tap water.
  • All you need to do now is dry your boat with a chamois cloth.

Once you complete the process of how to clean a boat you need to use a chamois cloth to dry it. A chamois cloth is designed to absorb water from a surface. Chamois cloths speed the drying process. Instead of using a garden hose, you can use a high-pressure water cleaner. High-pressure water cleaners clean more thorough, are faster and don’t waste as much water compared to using a garden hose. Gelcoat Oxidation can be cleaned and remove with the right product.


2. Cleaning an Aluminium boat

Bare Aluminium Boats – For bare Aluminium boats that have never been painted, you can wash your aluminium boat using one of the options mentioned above. eg Rinse with a garden hose, wash by hand with soapy water rinse and dry.

If you want to totally clean and remove any grime sitting on the surface of your bare aluminium hull use an aluminium cleaner. These products contain harsh chemicals and should not be used on any painted surface. Basically this process strips away any oxidation and staining if used correctly. Follow the instructions carefully if you decide to use this type of product.


Painted Aluminium Boats – Only use a garden hose to rinse and wash with a soap sud base cleaner. When washed rinse again and dry with a Chamois cloth. This cleaning process is similar to washing a fibreglass boat. Due to the painted Aluminium surface, I would not advise to use high pressure water cleaners.

For the interior of your aluminium boat use a soap rich sud gel mix.

Place this into a bucket a water, rinse your boat interior carefully and proceed to wash the interior of your boat. Once you have completed this simply rinse and dry with a chamois cloth.

3. Cleaning Delicate Boat Interiors

Keep garden hoses or high press washers away from any electrical devices such as fish finders, fuse box etc. Use a sponge carefully to wash these areas then rinse and dry with a chamois cloth.


Thank you for viewing the how to clean a boat page. Feel free to add your tips in the comments below.

Call Now Button