Beginners Advice How to...

Boat Cleaning Checklist

Boat cleaning is not something all of us enjoy, with many of us opting to outsource this task, but it’s essential for maintaining our vessels and keeping them in the best condition during the sailing season. It’s also nice to just keep your boat looking its best at all times. Here at Nick Cox Yacht Chandlery, we have put together a great boat cleaning checklist so you can carry out this essential detailing yourself from here on out.

What You’ll Need

First and foremost, it’s worth pooling together all of the supplies you’ll need to clean your boat properly. Here is a list of the things we recommend using throughout the checklist (in chronological order):

  • Warm water and hosepipe
  • Marine fabric cleaner
  • UV protector
  • Boat wash
  • Starbrite’s Non-Skid Deck Cleaner
  • Starbrite’s Salt Away
  • Electric buffer or non-abrasive cloth
  • Cutting compound or polish
  • Marine wax or nano-sealer (e.g. Nano Extract, or Boatox’s Hydrophobic Nanospray)
  • Super Stainless (stainless steel spray)
  • Medium to soft scouring pad
  • Chemical teak cleaner
  • Purytec Heads Treatment System
  • Fabric spray
  • Fabric or vinyl cleaner
  • Oil absorbent pads and waste oil bin
  • Biodegradable bilge cleaner
  • Carpet cleaner
  • Eco-friendly biological tank cleaner

The Checklist

Clean all canvas, tarpaulin and covers:

A gentle scrub with water and a brush works the dirt loose, whilst most marine fabric cleaners will have an anti-mildew agent in them. Seal and waterproof using a UV protector.

General Wash Down:

Use lots of water to loosen dirt and debris on your hull, topsides and decks and then work in small areas at a time with a boat wash, paying attention to non-slip surfaces by using a deck specific product such as Starbrite’s Non-Skid Deck Cleaner, which will prevent any slippy areas that result from the wrong choice of detergent. Rinse all moving parts well, e.g. blocks to ensure any salt crystal build-up is washed away. For very heavily salted areas, use Starbrite’s Salt-Away.

Restore Dull Gel Coat:

Marine gel coat is tougher and thicker than car paint, so marine polishes are designed to work better on these harder surfaces. Using an electric buffer or non-abrasive cloth, surface oxidation and minor imperfections can be removed with a cutting compound or polish. A little dusting of water on the topsides acts as a lubricant to help the polish work better.

Seal and Protect the Hull:

Follow up with a quality marine wax that will give a glossy finish and help to protect the gel coat against UV damage and further oxidation. Even better: use a nano-sealer, such as Nano-Extract or Boatox’s Hydrophobic Nanospray, which seal the microscopic pores found in gel coat, to repel dirt and water, for a longer-lasting finish. The Boatox range is also one of the few suitable for use on vinyl-wrapped hulls.

Clear Drains and Scuppers:

If the boat is out of the water, push a hosepipe up from the bottom where possible, otherwise rinse out from the top using a much water pressure as possible.

Clean your Ropes and Running Rigging:

Take these off the boat if you can to hand wash. If you wish to use the washing machine, first place your lines into a pillowcase and then wash on a cold setting – with no detergent or spin cycle – and leave to air dry.

Clean and Polish Metal:

Save yourself time and effort working your stainless steel with Super Stainless: a product you spray on, leave for a short while, rinse and leave to dry. It gets rid of salt marks, rust marks and brings the metal back to a shiny finish.

Clean Teak and Wood:

Whilst you can sand and scrub small areas of teak, working with the grain is a big no-no as it erodes the teak unevenly and leaves ridges. For the best results, always work across the grain using a medium to soft scouring pad. Chemical teak cleaners are best used with lots of water, working from the highest point, outwards.

Clean Windows and Hatches:

Try to keep chemicals, in particular teak cleaners, away from aluminium frames.

Go through the Interior:

Heads – Add a Purytec Heads Treatment System to the water-in hose if you suffer from ‘egg-y’ smells that aren’t of your making. Cushions and Fabrics – Keeping these aired and dry throughout the summer makes the nights on board more comfortable. Freshen yours up with a fabric spray, or if they are quite dirty, use a fabric or vinyl cleaner. Lockers – You’ll be surprised what you may find stuffed at the back of a locker! Clean and dry these out. Bilges – Your first line of defence is prevention from oil leaks, however, if you find oil in the bilge, you can’t just pump this overboard, even if it has been emulsified by a bilge cleaner. So, you first need to capture the oil with an oil absorbent pad and then dispose of it in a waste oil bin if you can. Biodegradable bilge cleaners give the best results and won’t froth up like washing up liquid does. Shampoo Carpets – You may not think your carpets get enough use to need a wash, but a combination of sand, dirt, salt and food all build up over time. Remove carpets, wash with carpet cleaner and rinse and dry well. Holding Tanks and Water Tanks – Fill your tanks, add an eco-friendly biological tank cleaner, leave to work and rinse through thoroughly, before use. Once you have followed these simple steps, your boat will be restored to its former glory.

Nick Cox Yacht Chandler

If you are looking to detail your boat, but are missing some of the items we have recommended, take a look at the cleaning products in our online store. Alternatively, you can visit us in our chandlery in Lymington to take a closer look.

To reach out to one of our marine experts for more information on our products or cleaning your boat, please call us on 01590 673 489 or use the online chat function

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