Cleaning Your Boat While Cruising

58-oceanWhile you’re out and about this summer cruising over a long weekend or even a few weeks, there are certain things you want to make sure you bring, such as sunscreen, seasickness pills, a good book and games for the kids. But don’t forget those few boat cleaning items that will make cleaning or washing your boat a quick and easy task each time you pull into port.


Before you leave on an extended excursion, you should go through your lazarettes and other storage compartments and throw out or remove from the boat those things that are old, that you no longer need or that you won’t specifically be using for this cruise. This will make room for the things you do need and make it easier for you or others to find those things when they’re needed.

For your exterior cleaning gear, you should have the following items stored in one of the aft storage compartments:

  • A large pack of microfiber rags
  • A squeegee
  • A few Mr Clean magic eraser pads
  • Cleaner wax, such as Meguiars
  • A soft hand brush and small scrub brush
  • Plastic window cleaner such as Mermaids, Meguiars or Plexus

When you pull into the slip at the marina you’re visiting, get your wash gear set up and quickly hose off the entire boat, including windows. If it’s a hot and sunny day, this will save you some headache later. The faster you can clean those salty windows, the better. Unfortunately, salt doesn’t come off completely by simply pointing a hose at it. A salty residue will remain that can become etched into your gel coat and both glass and plastic windows. You may not see it very well on white or off-white gel coat, but you’ll see it quite easily on dark colored hulls.

Once you’ve hosed the boat off, fill your bucket and grab your deck brush with the soft brush attachment to wash your boat with. If you don’t have much time, spend most of your time on the glass and plastic windows. Even after washing them with soap and water, you’ll still see salt spray or water spots on them. This is what the microfiber rags are for. Use these to wipe off the remaining salt or water spots from the windows.

Use the Mr Clean magic eraser pads to remove marks and stains from the non-skid, but don’t use these handy little cleaning pads on smooth gel coat or it will remove any coating of wax you have in that area and dull the finish. To remove a stain or scuff mark on smooth gel coat, use a rag with some cleaner wax and rub it off, then wipe the haze away.


There are a few items you should store in an easily accessible storage compartment inside your boat so you can take care of spills or messes soon after they happen. This will help prevent stains from setting in and doing quick cleanings along the way can help prevent your living and sleeping areas to require more in depth cleaning that takes you away from time spent with your family and friends or sightseeing.

  • A vacuum that is easy to store and quick and easy to use, such as a small shop vac
  • Microfiber rags
  • A multi-purpose spray cleaner
  • A tub of disinfecting wipes, such as Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
  • Carpet spot remover such as Folex

Store these items in one handy place and let everyone on board know where they are so anyone can spot clean as needed (although I realize that the dog and kids won’t necessarily be the most proactive spot cleaners). You may also want to buy a few carpet runners to lay down in high traffic areas if you don’t already have canvas carpet runners snapped in place over your carpets.

Use the shop vac to do more than just keep the carpet clean. Use it to suck up hair in the shower or head area as well as make crumbs on both the floor and counters disappear. Microfiber rags are great for cleaning counter spaces because everything sticks to them, especially crumbs. Buy a multi-purpose spray cleaner such as SprayWay or Windex with vinegar so you only need to grab one cleaner for all surfaces, whether it be windows, granite or wood.

A container of disinfecting wipes is quick and easy to use in the head area, as well as in the kitchen and on door handles or knobs and table tops. Not only does it disinfect, but it also cleans and helps remove sticky messes.

If something hits the carpet that creates a stain, try to remove it as quickly as possible. Keep a carpet cleaning spray on hand such as Folex or any of the “oxy” type carpet cleaners, as well as a small scrub brush or even an old toothbrush. First try to blot as much of the stain out as you can with warm water and a rag. If a stain still persists, spray the area with the carpet cleaner, brush it in with the brush and then blot dry. Place a paper towel over that area so no one steps on it with dirty feet or shoes until it’s completely dry, otherwise fresh dirt may “stick” to the wet area and only make it harder to remove in the future.

With a simple checklist and action plan like this, you’ll be able to prevent a lot of stains or salt and water spots from setting in and becoming more difficult to remove once you return home. But more importantly than stains or water spots, have fun, be safe and enjoy your outing!

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