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How Often Should You Clean a Boat?

Boating enthusiasts of all levels and experience often ask how often they should clean their boat. The answer, unfortunately, depends on a number of factors including the type of boat, the climate where it is kept, and the average amount of use it receives. However, most boaters agree that at least once a month is a good rule of thumb.

In heavier fallout areas around cities, bridges, and airports, it would be recommended to give your boat a good wash every 2 weeks or potentially weekly if the fallout is more severe.

Here are a few of the questions you ought to ask yourself if you want to select the best schedule for cleaning your boat, so you can enjoy a relaxing and thoroughly cleansed boat.

Do You Keep Your Boat Stored in the Water?

If you plan to keep your boat stored in the water at a marina, your home or wherever, it’s important to remember that it will constantly be exposed to the marine life that is dwelling within. For boats that are kept in the water, the hull is something that you will want to pay particular attention to and make sure you are scheduling your cleanings based on the active marine growth rates in your area.

Boats that are used and stored in the water can quickly become covered in salt, mildew, and mold. These growths can not only make the boat look dirty but can also cause damage to the vinyl, cushions, canvas etc.

In order to protect your investment and keep your boat looking clean, it is important to wash it on a regular basis.

If you do not keep your boat stored in the water, then the best schedule to keep for washing it is after every single use. Do a thorough wash from top to bottom and front to back using a proper marine grade boat soap with proper Ph balance.

Do You Keep the Boat Covered?

If you are fortunate enough to keep your boat under a covered slip, this will certainly keep your vessel safe from the harsh elements and those dreaded Pelican droppings. However, even covered boats have things to worry about. Not only do spiders make some people uneasy, their droppings can actually leave permanent stains on your boat and don’t get me started on the mess that their webs present.

You can combat most of these animal dropping issues by making sure you keep a consistent  wax application schedule, but you still want to make sure that you give it a good wash-down at least every couple of months.

If you keep your boat stored in an uncovered slip, you will want to give it a good wash at least once a month to keep bird droppings from staining the gelcoat and also to prevent harsh water spots from forming.

Does Your Boat Get Regular Exposure to Salt Water?

Whenever you return to your dock after boating in salt water, make sure to rinse off the spray that has left traces of salt water all over your boat’s exterior. Employing a high-quality boat soap, wash the salt off of your boat. Make sure you pay special attention to the windows and wash them clean, rinse them, and dry them thoroughly. Along with your windows, you will want to pay close attention to your metal components as well.

If you are not diligent about this, the salt water will eventually begin to etch watermarks into your windows and cause pitting on your stainless steel and aluminum components.

Maintaining your boat’s integrity after spending time in salt water is just as important to its annual maintenance routine as your annual tune-up. While cleaning the deck and flushing the engine with fresh water are among its key parts, you should not neglect cleaning your trailer prior to returning it to dry storage. It ‘s just as vulnerable to saltwater damage as your boat is.

When storing your boat in saltwater, an important tip to remember is to tilt your outboard motors up so that the running gear is not constantly immersed in saltwater. Once you have completed the wash and clean, chamois dry off everything and if possible keep your boat covered to minimize any salt air and other outdoor marine environment effects.

How Often Do You Typically Use Your Boat?

If you keep your boat stored in a wet slip, then regular use will no doubt help you keep the hull clean and free from fouling. Running your boat at high speeds will help clean the underside of your boat’s hull and slow down fouling and marine growth.

However, this can vary from location to location depending on the growth rates in your area and the time of year. If you do keep your boat in a wet slip, then It would be highly beneficial for you to get the bottom of your boat painted with antifouling bottom paint. If your boat sits for too long without use, the fouling will begin to rapidly grow and can eventually damage important operating components on your vessel.

If you are not using your boat very often, then you will absolutely want to schedule regular bottom cleans to be done on your boat’s hull.

What About the Interior?

The interior of your boat is probably the one area that a lot of boat owners do not think to clean on a regular basis. If your boat has an interior cabin, you want to make sure that this area is kept free of any mold and mildew growth so as to not harm you or any of your loved ones that want to enjoy your beautiful vessel.

If you are regularly using your boat, then it will most likely come natural to routinely clean the interior, but if you infrequently use your boat, then a good rule of thumb would be to give it a thorough cleaning once every few months.

Using a good quality mold and mildew prevention is key to keeping a clean and healthy boat interior. To control the humidity, I would highly recommend implementing a dehumidifier. If there is a lot of foot traffic on your boat and it has carpeting, then you will want to be sure and vacuum them frequently to keep dirt and dust and pet hair at bay.

In Conclusion:

Owning a boat can be a very exciting adventure and a lot of fun. However, it is important to know that if you want to maintain its value and luster, you have to be diligent about keeping up with a routine cleaning schedule.

It can be quite a bit of work to maintain a boat all by yourself, but there are services out there that can help take some of the workload off of your shoulders. Hiring a professional boat detailing company is the easiest and most consistent way of keeping up proper cleaning on your boat. If you are looking to keep your prized investment in the best possible condition, then be sure to follow some of these tips, and you will be happy with the results.

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