Product Review: 303 Aerospace Protectant

303 Aerospace ProtectantIt sounds like a cleaning product you might use on your space craft or jet liner, but 303 Aerospace Protectant is definitely meant for marine applications thanks to its special UV agents and multi-purpose use. I first discovered this great product when I was looking for a marine-grade Armorall replacement. I wanted something that I could spray on vinyl seats and on the “dashboard” area in the helm station especially since that area receives a lot of UV rays, which eventually leads to cracking and fading.

On the back of the spray bottle, it says that it’s meant for several different materials, including gel coat, rubber, vinyl, plastic windows and leather. At the time I was testing it, I was cleaning a boat that was quite dirty and figured it would be a great way to spray the 303 on several different areas of the boat and see how well it worked.

Keep in mind, however, that 303 Aerospace Protectant isn’t actually a cleaner. It’s what you spray to protect different materials after you have cleaned them. If you have dirty Isenglass, you’ll need to clean it first with a spray cleaner meant specifically for plastic windows (not Windex or anything that will cause them to haze over time). Spray the cleaner on the plastic windows and then wipe off with a clean, dry microfiber rag so there is no dirt, dust or salt left on the plastic windows. Once they’re clean, you can spray the 303 product on them and wipe with another clean, dry microfiber rag. (Don’t use the same one you used to clean them with or you could accidentally scratch them from the dirt on the rag.) It’s best to do this chore in the shade rather than direct sunlight, otherwise you may get streaky results. If you do, take another clean, dry microfiber rag and wipe it over the plastic windows to lightly buff off the 303 protectant.

For vinyl seats and cushions, clean them thoroughly first with a multi-purpose cleaner such as Simple Green. If they have mildew in them, use a mildew killer spray such as Lysol or Tilex. To turn white vinyl seats white again, use a Mr Clean Magic Eraser pad with any of the spray cleaners mentioned above. Once the vinyl cushions are clean and dry, spray the 303 product liberally all over them and wipe in with a rag. That’s pretty much all you have to do to bring back a nice sheen to them and protect them from UV damage. Follow up every month or two with another application to keep them protected year-round.

The dash area of the helm station often receives most of the sun’s rays and direct heat which can cause that area to crack and fade. Before applying the 303 product, spray this area with a multi-purpose cleaner and wipe dry with a rag. Then, just as you did with the vinyl seats, spray the 303 protectant liberally on the dashboard area being careful not to get overspray on glass windows, as it will streak them when you go to wipe it off the glass. (303 Protectant isn’t meant for glass windows, but is great for Isenglass and even Lexan.) Because this area receives so much direct sunlight, repeat this process about once per month to keep it well protected and looking new for a long time. Unfortunately, the 303 protectant won’t keep your compass from fading, so you’ll have to keep using a Baseball cap to protect that!

When I read that I could use 303 protectant on gel coat, I thought how great that would be to spray on a faded blue stripe and watch it turn back to a deep dark blue without having to use wax. This is not the case, however. It will turn a faded blue strip back to dark blue, but as soon as the product dries in a few seconds, it goes right back to faded blue. I wouldn’t use this product on gel coat because it won’t actually soak in (no matter how oxidized the gel coat is) and will end up looking greasy or splotchy where you sprayed it and wiped it in.

Although the 303 protectant protects against UV rays, it is not a wax, doesn’t have wax in it and won’t perform like wax does. If you have a faded colored stripe on your boat, you’ll need to apply rubbing compound to it, buff it in, wipe it off and then apply wax to that area, buffing it in and wiping it off, in order to remove the oxidation and bring back a gloss. You won’t get glossy gel coat no matter what you use if there is still oxidation on the gel coat. It must first be removed.

As a detailer who often needs a product that will bring back a sheen to plastics and vinyl, as well as protect them from UV rays and further damage, my crew and I carry the 303 protectant in our arsenal of products. With its many different uses, easy application and excellent results, it’s definitely worth carrying in your own dock box.

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