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Cleaning Tips for Used Boats

Aug 17, 2007
It is amazing how quickly how boats can become so dirty. Here are a few tips to bring back that new boat look.

Wash the outside with a mild detergent. Sometimes it's tempting to whip out the industrial cleaner, but believe me it will only cost you more time in the future. Strong cleaners remove the wax, leaving the finish vulnerable to dirt and the harmful rays of the sun. Marine stores sell detergents that are made especially for boat finishes. These do a good job of cleaning and won't remove so much of the wax. Some of these detergents may even contain wax for extra protection.

Wax your boat. This doesn't have to be done each time you wash, but the more you wax the longer the finish will look new. While the surface of a fiberglass boat may appear slick and shiny, if you were to look at it under a microscope you would see that it is actually rough and has many pits and flaws. When you apply wax these microscopic pits are filled in leaving the surface smooth and glossy. Your boat should be waxed in the spring before commissioning and in the fall before storing it in the winter. This is the minimum to maintain your boat in a new looking condition.

Mold and mildew are problems that can be kept under check if you take a little time to keep the inside of your boat clean. They like to grow on surfaces that are dirty. If you already have mildew it is not so easy to remove. A mild solution of bleach and water will kill the mildew on the hard shiny surfaces, however never use these on vinyl seats or canvas boat tops. The stitching used in these products can be deteriorated causing them to fall apart. Believe me I know I just spent over $500.00 to get my canvas repaired when all the zippers and stitching started to fall apart. For use on these types of materials I suggest Amazon's Mildew Stain Away, also available at boating supply stores. This product will not clean as well as bleach, but it does a better job of not hurting your stitching.

Keeping the upholstery looking good is simple if you keep a good leather and vinyl protectant applied after each use. These are easy to apply, take only a few minutes, and will extend the life of the upholstery these protectants penatrate and moisturize the vinyl helping to prevent drying and cracking. Some even have a type of sunblock to help prevent fading.

Don't forget the windshield. Sometimes after a day on the water it becomes almost impossible to see through your windshield. Sand, salt spray, and tanning lotions seem to be attracted to this part of your boat like a magnet. After washing and drying clean the windshield with a good glass cleaner and then apply rain-x. Just like the fiberglass, the windshield also has microscopic pits. Rain-x fills these in and makes the surface slick so that it stays cleaner longer.

While boating is a pleasurable way to spend a summer day, it is also very exhausting and you may not feel like cleaning your boat when you get home. Just remember keeping it in a "new boat" condition will increase the resale value and shorten the time it takes to sell your boat.
About the Author
Bradford Herrington is a fellow boat owner and a part time editor for www.awesomeboatdeals.com which specializes in used boats for sale.
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