Coming back to Fl for Season? Time To Clean!
Posted on 16th September 2021 at 20:00
If you're one of the many "Snow birds" who comes down to Florida for some boating fun during the winter, you don't want to make your maiden voyage to be on a dirty boat. So we wanted to give you some tips on how to clean your boat quickly and efficiently!
Well, it's officially September. We made it to the cusp of “in season” for Florida. While those who opted to remain here in Florida have been boating all through the hot summer, those of you who are making plans to flock to the Sunshine State for the winter might have a surprise on your hands. If your boat has been sitting unattended for 8 months, it is likely in need of a good cleaning. No one likes getting on a boat that is oxidized, dusty, or dirty; being on a filthy boat can totally ruin the experience! So, you have 2 options: you could always give us a call and have your boat professionally detailed and waxed and sanitized, or you could save a couple bucks and take on the job yourself. If you choose the latter option, here are some tips that our Detailer, Canvas & Upholstery Professionals, and Technicians recommend to get (and keep) your boat looking beautiful and, more importantly, sanitized.
Check to see what cleaners are safe for your upholstery and canvas - Naples Canvas & Upholstery specializes in making custom repairs to marine fabrics and materials on a daily basis. One of the most common reasons for needing to replace those fabrics is because they have deteriorated due to improper cleaning procedures. A lot of people will say “DON’T USE BLEACH” on marine fabrics, but the manufacturers of all of the materials we use in our shop say that diluting 1 cup of household bleach per gallon of water will easily and quickly sanitize and clean their fabrics. We want to stress that you NEED to dilute the bleach. Using undiluted bleach will disintegrate the threads that hold your various fabrics together and crack your vinyl. If your seats have become moldy due to the inherent humidity in Florida, pick up a bottle of X-14 Mold cleaner & Protectant. Use a soft bristle brush or a soft cloth. DO NOT USE ACETONE OR GOOF OFF on your vinyl, as it will quickly dissolve with very little exposure to these chemicals. Additionally, all of our material vendors recommend that you invest in the 303 line of products & protectants. These products are very easy to use, with most just being a simple spray on & rub in. Follow the directions on the bottle. This is not only the best way to clean your fabrics, but also to protect them from further damage in the future!
Invest in some simple cleaning supplies - Our detailer typically carries a 5 gallon bucket with all his go-to cleaning supplies in it. It is usually a combination of:
3 spray bottles with the aforementioned bleach/water mix, Simple Green/Spray Nine, Goof Off, and a 50/50 mixture of Blue Dawn & White Vinegar.
The Simple Green/Spray Nine are both great degreasers, and the 50/50 Dawn/Vinegar mix can help get out any persistent stains or grime. He recommends you let the 50/50 mix sit for 10 minutes to work and simply wipe away with water and a rag or scrub brush. If you don’t believe it, try using it on your dirty tub - it works like magic. Goof Off is the best and easiest way to remove rubber streaks, adhesive residue, etc. It is best to use this on your textured deck, as it can sometimes eat through the top shiny layer of gel coat if left on for too long. Just pour a little onto a rag, and use the rag to wipe away any persistent marks.
According to our Detailer, these things are worth their weight in gold. They have a slight abrasive quality to them, so be careful on your vinyl & gel coat. They are great for getting gunk out from the textured gripping & persistent stains. They are also spectacularly effective on windows & glass that have water spots on them.
These are absolutely necessary. The rags are great for sopping up water & debris in low drainage areas, as well as getting water spots off your windshield. Use a dry microfiber cloth to do final polish/drying after using your rags.
Nothing is more annoying than being on your hands and knees with a toothbrush. Go out to your local Ace Hardware and pick up a soft bristle pole brush with an extending pole. It's a back saver, and can be easily stored away on the boat or with your cleaning supplies.
The chamois is another great tool for drying your boat, but being on your hands and knees or reaching up to the ceiling can get old fast. Getting a pole chamois that can be swapped with the brush can make drying your boat a breeze!
Using any old regular soap isn’t recommended when washing your boat. They tend to get really sudsy, and no one wants to see all those suds washing into the water of the marina. A good boat soap does the same job with less suds, and they’re a little gentler on the fit and finish of your boat. Woody Wax makes a great one!
Start from the top and work your way down and work in small sections.
If you’re a perfectionist (like our detailer), you want EVERY part of your boat to be clean, even if you don’t see it all the time. Even if you don’t mind a bit of dirt on your hard top, you don’t want to wash the floors, and then move to the seats; you’ll just make the floors dirty again. Our detailer always starts at the bow and works his way back to the swim platform.
Divide your boat into quarters: bow first, captain & passenger seating area second, rear seating area third, swim platform last. For those boats with cabins, the cabin should be the last part.
Spray with your degreaser first, then bleach/water if heavily soiled. The degreaser will help lift all that grease and grime, and will help the bleach “stick” to the surface longer leaving your surfaces looking fresh and new!
After you’ve sprayed what needs to be sprayed, bust out your pole brush and start scrubbing. No need to break your back scrubbing hard, the solvents have done most of the work for you. You’re really just introducing suds and gentle agitation to really work out any stains.
A squirt or 2 of boat soap will go a LONG way.
If you opted to get a 5 gallon bucket, a quick squirt of boat soap will be just the right amount of soap for two and a half gallons of water. Don’t go crazy and waste it! You’re not trying to set up a bubble bath; remember, the soap is there to help gently lift the grime off.
Rinse solvents and soap off with fresh water. Repeat as necessary for persistent stains.
So there you have it! Cleaning your boat doesn’t have to be a nightmare task that you dread. All in all, it should only take about an hour or two to give your boat a good thorough cleaning. If your boat is heavily oxidized, you may want to try to buff/wax your boat with 3M Perfect It rubbing compound, and Meguiar's Boat/RV Cleaner Wax. When it comes to buffing, you’ll need a buffing machine and wool pads if you’re not looking to be sore the next day. Put a bit directly on the wool pad, and smear on the hull with the power off. Once it's on, use low RPMs (1,500-1,800 RPMs) to knock off the deep oxidation in 2-3 foot sections of the hull. When it comes to waxing, Mr. Miyagi’s advice from the “Karate Kid” applies perfectly: “Wax on, Wax off”. Meguiar’s Boat/RV Cleaner Wax does have a very fine grit to it, so you can get away with simply waxing if your gel coat is lightly oxidized. All you need to do is put a quarter sized dollop of wax onto a rag, apply it on a 2-3 foot stretch of surface, let it dry, and buff off with a microfiber cloth for a deep, beautiful shine! If you’re using a buffing machine, use a foam “egg carton” pad on a low RPM setting (around 1,000-1,500 RPMs). Please note: whether buffing or waxing, if you set your RPMs too high, you can damage your gel coat/clear coat & paint.
Cleaning your boat may sound like a gigantic undertaking of epic proportions, and it can be if let go for too long. Every time we encounter a new boat owner, we always give a few choice pieces of advice: get your motor serviced every 100 hours or 1 year (whichever comes first), ALWAYS flush your motors with fresh water for 10 minutes per motor after a run in salt water, and rinse your boat after every run. In fact, Gary always says "Every now and then, leave your boat cover off while it rains. The fresh rainwater gets into all the nooks and crannies, every cup holder and screw. It helps clear away any accumulated salt." If you only do the first two, your motors will live for much longer. But that third will keep your boat looking like new for years to come!
- Your Neighborhood Friendly Boat Blogger
Images courtesy of Chris Shand ©
Tagged as: boat cleaning tips, boat detailing, boat safe cleaners, boat washing, boat washing tips, detailer's guide, detailing, how to, how to clean your boat
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