Spring Cleaning Your Boat

Spring Cleaning Your Boat

Spring is the best time of year to get your boat ready for the season with a comprehensive clean and seasonal maintenance tasks. 

You pull the boat cover off to discover mould and mildew on the boat seats, the gel coat has faded from UV damage, the teak has transformed into a dull and grey colour, the toilet’s holding tank stinks and the metal fittings show signs of surface rust and oxidation.
You can easily go overboard in getting your boat ready for the next family holiday, but with the right equipment, you’ll breeze through it in no time. Keep reading this post for our tips and guide to get your boat ready for summer.


Though it is not technically cleaning, checking last season’s anodes is one of the most important steps in getting your boat ready and avoid expensive repairs and replacements. Sacrificial Zinc Anodes prevent steel parts underwater getting eaten away by electrons. Check and replace your anodes on your propeller shaft, rudder, keel and other metal parts that are immersed in seawater. If your anodes have deteriorated, the electrons will cause corrosion on other metals such as your propeller.

Give it a good rinse

One of the most used cleaning tools on our boat is a transportable pressure sprayer. The Seaflo Washdown pump makes rinsing your boat a breeze, even if you do not have access to a tap. It is great for giving the boat a quick clean after a day out fishing, or before going out for a cruise.

Before washing your boat with boat wash, it is essential to give it a good rinse to remove loose residue such as bird droppings, dust and sand that can scratch your gelcoat while scrubbing. Use a long handled deckwash brush with soft bristles to help get rid of stubborn spots.

Boat Wash

When washing your boat, only use a detergent designed for boats as household cleaning supplies can damage your boat’s gel coat surface. When cleaning your boat, the washed off detergent is most likely to end up in the water and with the marine life, making it essential to choose an environmentally friendly and biodegradable boat wash. Give your boat a good rinse after washing to remove any leftover soap particles.

Waxing & Sealing

UV rays will over time cause your gel coat’s colour to deteriorate. Waxing and sealing your boat will add a layer to your gel coat, protecting it from future damage from UV radiation, salt and grime. The wax layer will normally last 3 months, whereas the sealer will keep your boat protected for the season. Make certain to only use sealers designed for boating and gel coats. The Nano Extract Gelcoat Sealer is our most popular product for sealing. It cleans, polishes and seals in one application, creating a layer that repels UV rays, water and oil while making it easier to clean your boat in the future. Apply the sealer in a circular motion using a soft, lint-free cloth. Polish it off for a streak-free finish.

Metal Surfaces

Check your stainless steel, chrome, brass and aluminium fittings for surface rust and oxidation. Any surface rust can be removed easily with the right products without any abrasive materials. Do not use sand paper or scourers that can create scratches in your metal fittings. We recommend using the German made Nano Extract Metal Sealer , which cleans, polishes and creates a protective layer in one application. The sealer will also remove surface rust and oxidation from metal surfaces such as stainless steel, brass and aluminium.

Teak and Timber surfaces

Like other boat surfaces, teak will fade and deteriorate into a dull grey colour with exposure to salt and UV radiation. Using a teak cleaner and brightener, you can rejuvenate the Teak’s natural colour and highlight the wood grain. Restoring teak to former glory is a simple 3 step process:

  • 1.Apply a good teak cleaner to remove stains and discolourations in preparation for the brightener. Scrub the teak cleaner along the wood grain for a deep clean.
  • 2.Apply a teak brightener with a sponge in the direction of the wood grain and rinse off after 5 minutes.
  • 3.Preserve the restored teak colour with a premium teak oil. The teak oil will penetrate into the timber, further enhancing the natural wood colour while adding a protective layer against sun and weather.


With constant exposure to water and humidity, it’s only natural for mildew to develop on a range of fabric surfaces. Mildew leaves both an undesirable odour as well as dark stains on cushions, covers, upholstery, vinyl and more. Use a good mildew stain remover to remove unwanted stains. A good mildew remover should not require any scrubbing. Just spray on and wipe off after a few minutes. Avoid using chlorine, as this will most likely cause discolouration in your fabric.
Make certain the inside of sail and boat covers have been treated for mildew as well before putting them back on.

Prevention is always the best cure when it comes to mildew.
Never cover or store wet sails in bags. Let the sails dry out before covering them. The missus will not mind if the spinnaker is taking up all the space on your clothes line for a few days.
To reduce the chance of mildew growing on mattresses, sit them up vertically when not in use.
Let the boat dry off before covering it with a boat cover to reduce the chance of mildew developing when you are not using it.
Unfortunately, we can never eliminate moisture in the air, especially with the hot climate and subsequent overnight drop in temperature causing condensation. But placing a dehumidifier in problem areas and rooms, you can limit the development of mildew.

Bilge Cleaning

We all know that the bilge can develop an unpleasant odour from time to time. Oil and petrol spills in particular is a concern, as pumping any liquid containing petroleum is not only harmful to marine life, it is also illegal. Starbrite’s Fuel & Oil absorber is developed to absorb oil and petroleum while repelling water.
You can also get a range of bilge cleaners that are designed to dissolve and combine grease and oil with the bilge water and kill off any bad odours. Pour the bilge cleaner into the bilge, let the bilge pump run and pump out the solution. Bear in mind that this solution should not be pumped out to sea, as the grease and oil is still harmful to the marine life even if you are using a biodegradable bilge cleaner.

Toilets & Holding Tanks

Waste from toilets are traditionally stored in holding tanks in the boat until it can be emptied in an approved waste-disposal facility. Naturally, holding tanks can be a source of foul odours causing significant discomfort for your nostrils. We recommend using ProPower Probiotic Tank Treatment in your holding tank to eliminate the foul smells. The 100% natural ProPower contains good bacteria that consumes bad smells rather than masking them. The probiotic treatment also transforms solids into liquids, allowing for faster emptying of the tank with less strain on the pump.

Toilets should be cleaned with a toilet cleaner designed for marine applications, as normal household cleaners can cause damage to seals and valves, leaving you with a shitty job to do. 

Rope maintenance

We recommend minimal cleaning of ropes, as most chemicals and harsh cleaning methods can cause irreparable damage to your ropes. If you do want to wash off salt and algae from your ropes, the best advice is to soak them in a bucket of water for a few hours before letting them dry.
Ropes should never be attempted to be cleaned with bleach or detergents with pH levels below 7 or above 9. If you want to use detergent, use a mild detergent intended for wool.

Washing machines can cause damage to the ropes, but according to advice from rope makers, you can still machine wash them if following a few recommendations:

  • Use the gentlest cycle setting on your washing machine
  • Front loading washing machines are gentler on your ropes
  • Stuff the ropes inside an old pillow case to avoid them getting tangled
  • Melt the ends of the ropes first to prevent fraying
  • Use a mild detergent
  • The rope should be tightly coiled
  • Using hot water is not a problem
  • NEVER use bleach

We could go on and on about things to clean on your boat. The key to having an easy to maintain boat is to use top quality products that lasts. We are big fans of Star brite's PTEF products. The PTEF adds a protective layer to the area you are cleaning, protecting against UV radiation and water stains. After all, we all want to spend more time on the water than cleaning the boat.
Besides products we have already mentioned, we recommend the screen cleaner with PTEF for your fishfinders and plotters.

31st Oct 2018