Using Car Or Home Cleaning Products On Your Boat

Q: Can I use my car detailing products on my boat? What about home cleaning products?

A: Yes and no. There are some products that are meant for autos and home and some that can be used anywhere. First, make sure the product is biodegradable if you’re going to use it on your boat. Second, decide where you plan to use this product on your boat. If you’re cleaning the interior of the boat such as the cabin, staterooms, head, galley, etc, most of your home cleaning products can be used in those areas because the finishes are similar between boat and home, such as wood paneling, granite countertops, mirrors, fiberglass tubs and showers, glass windows and carpeting.

However, there are a few areas inside your boat where you won’t want to use general home cleaning products and those areas include the sink, toilet or shower drain. If you’re going to be pouring something down a drain, stick to a marine product so as not to dry out or cause damage overtime to any drains or connections.

For exterior cleaning, such as washing and waxing, it’s often best to stick with products meant for a boat rather than a car. Waxes, compounds, polishes and buffing pads meant for automobiles are designed to work with clear coat rather than gel coat. It’s not that a polish meant for cars won’t work on your boat, but from those that we’ve tested, they didn’t do as good of a job or last as long as those meant for gel coated boats. When buffing clear coat, you typically use a foam buffing pad, whereas with gel coat, you want to use a wool compounding or polishing pad. Also, the manufacturers assume that you probably garage your car and a car takes much less time to wax than a boat, so to wax your car every few months isn’t too much of an undertaking. A boat sits out in the sun and takes a lot of time, labor and money to wax, so any wax used on a boat had better last at least 9 to 12 months.

One tempting household product that should never touch your boat is dish soap. It removes wax and will dry out your gel coat quickly making it look faded.

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