There are lots of products for cleaning a boat, but they differ by whether you’re cleaning interior or exterior surfaces. Here, let’s focus on cleaning tips for boat interiors to keep your Boston Whaler looking sharp.
Cushions and upholstery
For vinyl cushions, clean with soap and water (1 gallon of water to ¼ cup of mild soap). Use a mild detergent like Dawn dish liquid that’s 90% biodegradable and has no phosphates that can harm the marine environment. Brush around the stitching and tackle stains with a soft brush or alcohol wipes.
Once clean, dry the vinyl with a soft cloth and then allow air drying time. Once fully dry, apply a vinyl protectant spray from 3M, Starbrite, 303, or Meguiar. Don’t use automotive vinyl cleaners that can break down marine vinyl UV inhibitors.
Marine carpet and vinyl flooring
Vacuum and wash any marine flooring or carpet. If possible, detach it from the floor, clean underneath and then reattach the carpet when completely dry. Use a brush and Starbrite’s citrus cleaner on tough stains.
Wood surfaces and floors
Solid or veneer wood surfaces can be wiped down with a soap and water or Murphy’s Oil Soap that comes in a convenient spray bottle. It’s a citrus cleaner that leaves the boat interior smelling fresh. A 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water in a squirt bottle can do wonders for cutting through salt that may have been tracked inside the boat. In fact, you can use that inexpensive and natural solution on most other surfaces in the boat as well.
Glass and mirrors
Glass and mirrors in the head can be cleaned with a general glass cleaner but it’s best to use one without ammonia. Paper towels will work but they can leave streaks because they’re impregnated with chemicals during the manufacturing process. Newsprint works wonders and never leaves streaks.
The marine toilet is delicate and needs regular care. You can clean the bowl, seat and cover with an all-purpose cleaner. To keep it smelling fresh, add two cups of white vinegar to the bowl, flush partially (on both a manual or electric head) and let sit for 15 minutes. Then flush through. The vinegar kills bacteria and helps dissolve calcium deposits that can trap odors. Never use bleach because it will damage the hoses and valves that are used in marine plumbing.
The bilge can be a source of odor so be sure to scrub it and loosen any sludge. A clean toilet brush works well. Then flush it with fresh water from a hose, drain it and let dry. Boat soap or a citrus bilge cleaner from West Marine can be flushed overboard without damaging the marine environment.
Mildew inside a boat is not only odorous, it can be destructive and it loves dark, airless spaces. Check for it inside lockers and under tables too. Clean any visible mildew (usually white or black) off surfaces with soap and water, a vinegar solution or commercial mildew cleaners from 3M, Starbrite, Marine 31 and others. Never use Clorox or Windex. Avoid chemicals like 409, GooGone or other non-marine cleaners that can be too abrasive or oily.
Dry everything completely after a thorough cleaning and then provide air circulation inside the boat. Chemical desiccants can help in small areas or use an electric dehumidifier but be sure to choose one that can’t start a fire or drain your Boston Whaler boat batteries. Keep up with this maintenance regime and your boating investment will hold its value for years to come.