Top Tips for How to Clean a Boat

Pressure washingPart of owning a boat is maintaining it and something that costs very little, but can make a real difference to how much you enjoy using the boat and the resale value, is keeping the boat clean. If you have a willing crew, cleaning your boat can be a fun way of getting everyone involved. Cleaning the boat on your own may not feel quite the same!

Here are our top tips for keeping your boat ship shape!

  1. Start with the outside  – we say start with the outside just because all too often we clean the interior whilst we are using the boat and somehow the exterior cleaning doesn’t happen. Perhaps it’s because it feels like a bigger job? Invest, borrow or hire a pressure washer and get cleaning. Start with going over the whole of the exterior with a quick sweep and then use a boat brush with a suitable wash mixture for boats.  Come and talk to us at our chandlery for supplies.
  2. Use the right chemicals – use the right chemicals and cleaning gets a lot easier. You will soon know if you are using the wrong wash mixture because there will be unsightly residues left behind and the boat will be difficult to clean.
  3. Don’t forget to wax – washing your boat takes the wax off, so you need to put the wax back on otherwise you’ll find your paint will discolour and crack. This can be a long task and so many people us a boat cleaning service for this. If you have a fiberglass gel coat then there is a different process for cleaning.
  4. Non-slip Fiberglass – you can’t wax non-slip fiberglass because then it will make it slippery!  Start cleaning with soap, water and a stiff bristle brush. The toughest stains can be treated with specialist cleaners, but use sparingly because any bleach in these products can do damage to the fibreglass surface. Once clean you can then apply a treatment like Star Brite Non-Skid Deck Wax which actually isn’t a wax but a product with polymers that help shine and protect without being slippery.
  5. Canvas – regular gentle cleaning with a mild soap will keep your canvas looking good. Typically every couple of years canvas needs to be scrubbed with a soap and baking soda mix or if the canvas is small enough it can be put in a washing machine on a warm was with soap and baking soda. There are different types of clear canvas and it’s worth reading up on the manufacturer instructions. Normally a wash with a gentle soap and a non-abrasive sponge or cloth followed by careful drying will keep clear canvas looking good.
  6. Teak – a quick scrub with soapy water gets the worst of the salt water off, but in the long term all teak will blacken. To clean the teak you will need to use an acid-based teak cleaner. There are different strength cleaners and it’s important to carefully follow the instructions. When cleaning, always remove the teak from the boat so that the cleaning chemicals do not go onto any other part of the boat.
  7. Wood areas inside – wood looks beautiful on a boat but it comes at a cleaning and maintenance price. Talk to our chandlery about hardwood cleaners, polish and spray wax for the interior. The standard process is mopping, drying and polishing. If it’s a big area then you may want to rent a buffer to complete the job.
  8. Soft furnishings – regular, gentle cleaning will keep you on top of the cleaning. Ideally, rent a steam cleaner and then once clean apply a sealant over the carpet or upholstery which should help protect from mold and the acrid smell of the sea. To clean the foam in cushions sprinkle both sides of the cushion with baking soda and leave for a few hours. Then shake off the soda and mist with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. Then just leave the cushions in a well-ventilated area for a few days for the vinegar smell to dispense. Finally soak the foam in water, squeeze out and repeat until all the dirt has come out.
  9. Vinyl furnishing – not as luxurious as soft furnishings but popular because it is so easy to clean and maintain, as long as you don’t let the vinyl become covered in mold. You can use a domestic cleaner that you would use at home and then apply a vinyl protectant. From an environmental perspective try and avoid using bleach.
  10. Heads – heads can be cleaned like you would at home. The only difference is cleaning the lines where calcium deposits can collect. To avoid this simply flush through a few cups of white vinegar.

If cleaning your boat is something you dread rather than enjoy then let us clean your boat for you!

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Contact Us
Stones Boatyard and The Marine Store
104-1840 Stewart Ave Nanaimo, BC, V9S4E6 Canada
Phone: 1-250-716-9065 Email:
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Nanaimo Yacht Service


To our valued boating community,

As we’re all aware, the COVID-19 virus pandemic is continuing to impact and change our world, however we do look forward to a safe and wonderful 2021 boating season.

The health and well-being of our clients, students, and staff remains of paramount importance to us. We continue to closely monitor the situation and react accordingly

We remain on hand to answer all your questions and concerns.

Please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-250-716-9065 or email

We look forward to welcoming you to our base and our wonderful cruising ground soon!