How To Clean A Boat Bilge

Written by Paul

Any cleaning products we mention have been used scrubbing our own boats so we know what works. We may receive a commission on purchases made through our links (at no extra cost to you) More details

How To Clean Boat Bilge | Boat Bilge Cleaning Products | Commercial Bilge Cleaning Services | Cleaning Boat Bilge Video

Having a dirty boat bilge can cause nasty odors and oily, dirty water. It's very important to keep it clean and fresh to avoid any embarrassment when you have guests onboard your boat.

We don't want an unpleasant boating experience for you and the passengers.

The bilge is designed to catch that excess water so it's only right to be regularly cleaning it with the right cleaning fluids/cleaning products.

The cleaning of the bilge is part of the overall cleaning of a dirty boat and is it's good to keep it spotless.

Incase you are wondering, this article will be applicable to everyone who has a bilge on their boats (which is pretty much most boat owners) 

You'll find bilge pumps on all types of boats like: 

  • Pontoon Boats
  • Speed Boats
  • Sailboats
  • Yachts
  • Some Jet Skis
  • Small Motorboats

So with that in mind, you'll need to get some products. Now, you can do this with simple options like a bit of elbow grease, boat soaps or even dishwasher detergent.

If you'd prefer to get some boat cleaning products, these are some cheap options to help with a regular cleaning schedule. .

You can pick these up relatively cheap and don't need to go overboard (pun intended) on costs. Wolfcreekdepot is the store we recommend and they're a family run operation dedicated to the marine world.

bilge cleaner

The 303 Bilge Cleaner case of 6 is the perfect option for regular bilge cleaning and ensures you don't run out.

bilge cleaning products

A cheaper option is the natural orange bilge cleaner.

It's great for emulsifying oil, grease and scum.

bilge cleaning cloth

Microfiber cloth to clean the bilge area.

You can use the discount code WCD10 at the checkout to save 10%

You don't need to buy both of the liquid products together, one is more than enough if you want to give it a proper cleaning.

The best part is these cleaners can also work on other parts of the boat for cleaning too.

Step 1: Get The Best Bilge Cleaning Products

You are going to need some boat soap or some of the cleaning products mentioned above when getting started. It's inexpensive and is more than enough to ensure you have a spotless bilge in no time.

Step 2: Apply The Boat Cleaner To The Bilge Area

boat bilge cleaning

Once you have the bilge cleaning fluid, you'll want to apply it to the bilge area and let it soak there.

You can let it soak for a few minutes or much longer. The longer it soaks, the easier it'll be to remove the dirt, grease and oily water.

Some people will leave the cleaner to soak in the bilge area for hours but we've found with the orange bilge cleaner above that you can let it soak for 30 minutes max and you'll be fine.

Make sure you get all areas as maintaining a spotless bilge area/pump is super important.

Step 3: Scrub The Bilge Area

After you've applied the boat cleaner and let it soak in for some time, it's time to start scrubbing and cleaning it.

Get some hot water and a scrub or damp cloth. Scrub out those hard to tackle areas and ensure every part of the bilge area is completely cleaned.

A bit of elbow grease should do the trick here and you'll find the dirt/great, water stains just come right off real easy having left the product soak in for some time.

Step 4: Draining The Dirty Water From Bilge

draining boat bilge

The next step is to drain the water from the bilge area. It's very important that you do this right as you can face a big fine if caught dumping into the sea and effecting the marine environment.

Get a bucket and drain all the dirty water into it. Dispose of the water appropriately and continue draining until the bilge is completely empty.

Once complete, make sure you close the drain hole.

Step 5: Use Cloth/Towel To Dry Bilge Area

Once you've drained out the dirty bilge, there'll be some leftover dirt. You can simple wipe it down and clean any leftover dirt from the area.

This will leave the bilge looking spotless and you should pass any inspection from marine authorities.

Commercial Bilge Services

There is another option for those that don't want to get their hands dirty. You could hire a cleaning company to do the work for you.

You can find these services at your local marina or a marine store near you. Alternatively, you could use something like Craigslist to find someone to do the work.

Just be careful who you hire from there of course.....

How To Clean Boat Bilge Video Instructions

Below is video instructions from zoffinger showing how to clean the bilge

It isn't that hard to do and as we've mentioned you'll be done in no time and that horrible odor will be gone!