Every boat owner is going to have to invest some time and effort to keep their vessel clean. One way to make that job a lot easier is to take a few steps to keep the boat from getting dirty in the first place. It’s more fun to be aboard a clean boat, and a little preventive housekeeping will save you time now and help keep your boat looking sharp season after season.
Here are six easy ways to keep your boat clean:
1. Wipe Your Feet
Dirt and sand from shoes or bare feet can get embedded into deck carpeting or a non-skid deck surface and be a real chore to clean up. When that sand dries it can swirl around when the boat is at speed and get into everyone’s eyes. One easy solution is to use an old towel as a “doormat.” Dunk it in the lake, wring it out and spread it on the boarding platform or the dock. Then ask your guests to wipe their feet before boarding. Where the sand is heavy, remove shoes and leave them on the dock or drop them into a pail or a storage compartment on the boat. Rinse off sandy feet – and the kid’s sandy bottoms – before boarding.
2. Stay on Top of Quick Cleanups
Keep some terry cloth rags on board for quick cleanups. It’s usually easier to immediately wipe up a food or drink spill, fish slime or spilled bait than after it has had a chance to dry in the hot sun, and perhaps leave behind a hard-to-clean stain on carpet or upholstery. Use care when cleaning marine vinyl upholstery, which is often treated to resist mildew and UV fading. A harsh cleaner can remove this protective coating. Instead of a household cleaner, use a product specifically intended for marine vinyl.
3. Get a Waste Basket
A small trash receptacle gives your guests a place to deposit cans and bottles, bags and wrappers, empty bait cups and spent fishing line, and any other throwaways that accumulate during a day on the water. It will also help keep light trash from blowing into the water. At the end of the day all your trash will be in one place and a snap to deal with. A plastic bucket or waste basket – rather than the carpeted deck – is also the perfect place for the collection of sandy shells the kids need to bring home from the beach.
4. Address Water Spots
White spots left behind when hard water dries can leave a dark-colored boat, engine cowl or windshield looking grubby. Mercury® All-In-One Spotless Shine is a cleaning product developed specifically to address marine water spots. It’s extremely effective yet gentle enough to use on any hard boat surface and will not harm decals and wraps. Regular use will leave an easy-to-maintain shine, with enhanced protection from the sun’s UV rays and future spotting.
5. Use a Boat Cover
If you store your boat outside, keeping the boat covered between outings will keep out dust, pollen, leaves, bird droppings and anything else that falls from the sky. Remove the cover by folding or rolling it from the stern toward the bow so that dirt and debris that’s on the cover does not fall into the boat. If the cover is dirty, shake it out before putting it back on the boat. If you tow your boat over unpaved roads, using a travel cover is simple insurance against a dusty boat. Just be sure your cover is designed for use while towing. Some boat manufacturers suggest not towing with a cover on because the cover could vibrate or flap and abrade the boat’s finish. Check your owner’s manual or talk to your dealer if you’re unsure. A set of quality mud flaps or trailer-towing rock guards provides further protection against chips and dings in the boat’s finish.
6. Wipe That Scum Line
The visible scum line that forms around the hull at the waterline can often be wiped away with a wet rag if you do it right after the boat goes on its trailer. Once it dries it can require more work to remove and will eventually stain the hull and really age the look of the boat.
Make boating fun, not a chore. Some basic housekeeping will help keep your boat clean and save you time and effort over the long haul, making every day on the water more enjoyable.