How Often Should You Clean Your Boat?

Regularly cleaning your boat will help extend its lifespan and help it hold its value over time. Many of the materials used in boat construction, such as fiberglass and gel coat, are porous, meaning dirt can get stuck in them and become very hard to get out.

So to avoid that, you should clean your boat with soap and water once every 2 to 3 weeks during boating season. If you boat in saltwater, rinse your boat and flush your engine with fresh water and desalter after every use.

Where do you use your boatHow often you should wash it
salt water– rinse and flush with desalter after every use
– wash every 2 weeks
fresh water– wash at least once every 3 weeks

Salt water damages and corrodes metal much quicker than fresh water does. Salt water can also crystalize and scratch your fiberglass and windshields, so that is why you need to clean more if you boat in salt water.

Best boat cleaning products

For cleaning your boat and flushing your engine, I recommend using these products:

Click on the links to check them out on Amazon.

You can see a list of 6 other products I recommend by checking out this article “10 Best Boat Cleaning Products Every Boater Needs“.

If you leave your boat in the water, you may need to powerwash your hull and prop to wash away any mussels, barnacles, or algae stains once or twice a year.

Factors you need to consider

Depending on many factors, you may need to clean your boat more often or less often. So, here are the factors that cause you to clean your boat more often:

Factors that will make you need to clean your boat more

  • If you fish a lot. Fish make livewells and fiberglass stink if not cleaned often. Their blood could also stain fiberglass and vinyl if not cleaned.
  • If you boat in saltwater or brackish water. Saltwater and brackishwater break down metal parts of your boat, so it’s important to always wash and desalt your boat. Also, flush the engine.
  • If you live in a very humid climate. Humid climates cause mold and mildew to grow much quicker on your boat, especially in low ventilation areas such as the engine bay.
  • If you leave your boat in the water. Mussels, barnacles, and algae can start to grow on your hull if you don’t clean it often. You should also clean your boat to avoid water stains that could become permanent if not dealt with often.
  • If you don’t cover your boat when not in use. Covering your boat is a great way to avoid rainwater damage and protect your boat from dirt and other environmental debris.
  • If you use your boat often. Obviously, the more you use your boat and the more people you have on your boat, the dirtier it will get.

How to flush your engine with fresh water and desalter

Outboard motors have a flush hose that you can connect your hose to, but it’s only recommended to use that when your engines are still warm. So for cold engines and I/O engines, you will need to use boat engine muffs such as these ones on Amazon.

You’ll then want to connect your hose to your Salt Away mixing unit with the Salt Away concentrate in it. Then connect it to the engine muffs and put the engine muffs around the impeller. You can then turn the water and engine on and begin flushing the engine.

Here’s a video to help you out:

How often should you wax your boat?

Depending on how much sun your boat gets, you’ll want to wax it every 3-6 months. If you store your boat in a garage and only use it a couple of times a season, you only need to wax it once every season. However, if you leave your boat in the sub, you should wax it 2 times every season.

Wax protects your boat from UV damage and helps keep your gel coat looking good. Most people hire professionals to wax their boats, but you can save some money by doing it yourself. If you want to do it yourself, check out this video:

How to clean a boat

There are 4 different parts of a boat that require cleaning, each of which has slightly different cleaning processes (I explain them later). Here are the parts you should clean:

  • Exterior surface – gel coat, hull, fiberglass, windshield.
  • Interior surface – carpet, vinyl, deck, interior fiberglass, livewells.
  • Engine – engine parts, engine room
  • Wood – teak, marine plywood, etc.

Here’s how you clean each part:

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Read more about how to clean your boat by clicking here.

What happens if you don’t clean your boat?

If you don’t clean your boat, dirt and debris can get into your gel coat and fiberglass and become extremely difficult to get out.

If you boat in saltwater, not cleaning it often will cause the salt to scratch your boat and corrode the metal parts.

Not waxing your boat will cause the gel coat to diminish, and your boat will lose its shine. It will also start to corrode as there is no longer wax protecting it from salt water and UV damage.


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