How To Clean A Boat Deck

Written by Paul

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How To Clean Teak Wood Boat Deck | How To Clean Non Skid Boat Deck | How To Clean Fiberglass Boat Deck | Boat Deck Cleaning Products | Cleaning A Boat Deck Video

After an outing on the sea rocking and enjoying your boat, there is one last thing you have to do before you cover your boat for storage: Clean The Deck.

This may not be a task you look forward to doing but all the same you just have to get it done if you want your boat to remain in top shape. You need to get all that grease, grime, baits, food stains and scraps off your boat's deck.

Leaving your deck dirty and unkempt will tarnish the aesthetics and visual appeal of your boat and may constitute a serious health hazard to you and others aboard.

Although cleaning a boat deck may appear to be a difficult and cumbersome task, it doesn’t have to be so once you get a good hang of the cleaning process.

With the right knowledge and equipment you'll soon have your deck sparkling clean, smelling fresh,and looking brand new.

In this article, we will show you how to clean your deck in few easy steps. Just read on and you'll soon be a pro in boat deck cleaning. Who knows, you might even start your own boat cleaning business (smiles).

Boat decks are made of different types of materials, some are made of Fiberglass, some teak wood, and some of non-skid coatings.

Cleaning decks involves removal of surface dirt and stains using a boat soap specially formulated for marine environment and a medium-stiff deck brush to scrub the deck.

Clean your boat deck at least once in a year. Dirt,grime and saltwater sticks in the groove of non-skid deck and lessens its non-skid property, defaces the shiny exterior and could cause accidents.

Boat Deck Cleaning Products You'll Need

Due to the large number and types of boat deck-cleaners available, selecting the right and the best cleaner for your boat can be quite confusing.

Concerns about the harsh chemical contents that could destroy your deck's surface, issues of Eco-safe and environmentally-friendly products,are all paramount and worthy of consideration when choosing your boat deck cleaner.

Some Essential Materials for Cleaning a Boat Deck

  • Gloves 
  • Boat deck cleaner
  • Deck brush
  • Clean towel or rag
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Pressure washer
  • Sprayer or hose
  • Boat polish

A boat deck cleaner is a type of cleaning solution specifically formulated for cleaning boat decks. The cleaners remove dirts, grime and stains from the deck grooves without causing damage to the non-skid coating.

Non-skid cleaners are specially designed to preserve the delicate surface of the boat deck.

Boat decks are usually covered in a special coating that renders them non-skid, and this property makes it easy for people to walk around without slipping or falling down on wet deck floors.

Non-skid coating types range from gel coat to kiwi grip.

Most commercially available boat deck cleaners are non-skid cleaners, although there are other types such as shampoo-type cleaners.

Some boat deck cleaners are multipurpose while some are meant specifically for marine use. Non-skid cleaners preserve the integrity of the non-skid surface of your deck.

And though they are a bit more expensive, they offer great value for money as they equally impart a protective stain-repellent coating on the deck.

Shampoo-type cleaners are usually meant for general cleaning and for removing non-stubborn dirt and stains. They are cheaper compared to non-skid cleaners.

Here are some tested and proven products we recommend for cleaning and keeping your boat deck in top shape.

How To Clean Teak Wood Deck

teak wood boat deck cleaner
credit: pbo.co.uk

Teak wood decks consist of both hard and soft wood elements; and although teak is very resilient, it is very easy to damage the soft wood elements leaving ridges of hard wood behind.

A properly maintained teak deck will wear naturally and may not require over-hauling for up to 10 – 15 years.

It is recommended that you clean your teak boat deck with a specialist teak deck cleaner, once or twice a year.

Wash a teak deck regularly, as you would with any other deck type, using a suitable teak cleaner, fresh water and a soft brush. Make sure you gently scrub across the direction of the grain.

Using hard brushes or household cleaning detergents will likely damage the soft surface of the teak deck. Make sure that you use proper teak cleaning solutions on your deck to ensure its longevity.

Also, don't use high-pressure cleaners on teak deck, the pressure will blast out the soft wood elements of the teak and leave unsightly ridges.

In addition, it is important to fix any worn or damaged caulking to prevent water from penetrating in-between the deck planks.

How To Clean a Non-skid Boat Deck

non skid boat deck cleaner
credit:captnmike.com

For best results,use a non-skid deck cleaner to get rid of stubborn stains and hard-to-remove dirts. For very stubborn stain you may have to use a fiberglass stain remover.

This is a mild acid-based stain remover that eliminates most type of stains. You need to wear rubber gloves and eye protection when using an acid based stain remover.

Also avoid using the stain remover on painted or galvanized surfaces, as it could strip the sheen off such surfaces.

Non-skid decks are delicate and therefore their cleaning requires  specially formulated cleaners that won't damage the non-skid coating.

General cleaning soaps that aren’t made specifically for use on boat decks may contain high levels of harsh chemicals such as sodium hypochlorite that are very abrasive and can damage the delicate non-skid surface of your deck.

Therefore,boat deck cleaners are more effective for removing dirts, grime and stains that are trapped within the grooves of non-skid decks, compared to other types of cleaners.

They are also more convenient to use, act faster on removing stains and don’t require heavy scrubbing to remove stubborn stains.

Step 1

Wet every area of the deck's surface with water, pour a little of the non-skid cleaning solution on a section of the deck and spread the cleaner with a deck brush.

Make sure the water and cleaner suds cover the entire area of the deck.Apply some cleaning fluid on a towel and use it to clean hidden corners and crooks that the brush might not reach.

Apply the cleaner according to the instructions given by the manufacturer. Dilute as directed, for instance Starbrite Boat Wash says to dilute three capfuls in a bucket of water.

The dilution ratio of cleaner to water is dependent on whether you're doing a heavy cleaning or just a general cleaning.

Step 2

Wait for two or three minutes for the chelating agents in the cleaner to work on the dirts. The chelating agents act by loosening and lifting dirts and stains off surfaces they come in contact with.

Step 3

Using a brush suitable for the type of non-skid coating on your boat deck, give the entire deck a scrubbing to loosen the dirts, separate them from the deck surface and get them off the deck.

You don't have to scrub heavily, most of the time a light scrubbing with a medium-stiff brush is all it takes.

Step 4

Rinse the deck with fresh water and flush off. To make rinsing and flushing out the water easier, use a sprayer such as a tank sprayer, aquabot or cockpit shower to pour the rinse water.

The force of the spraying water will propel the dirts and the soap suds faster out of the deck.

Non-skid deck cleaners leave a special protective, stain-repellent coating on non-skid surfaces after cleaning. This special coating helps prevent stains and grime from embedding on to the surface again.

It also enhances the overall appearance of the deck.

Types of Non-skid Decks and How to Clean Them

  • Gelcoat
  • Treadmaster
  • Kiwi Grip
  • Painted non-skid

Dirts and stains reduce the quality and functionality of a non-skid boat deck. The non-skid coatings are of different types and needs to be cleaned with materials suitable for each type.

Dirts and grime will usually be trapped in the ridges of the gel coat non-skid pattern,where it will be hard to get rid of them.

To clean your gelcoat non-skid, scrub the deck with a medium-stiff brush and a good deck cleaner that could effectively strip off the dirts and stains.

Treadmaster non-skid deck is made from a mixture of nitrile rubber and ground cork. To clean this glued mats, scrub with a medium bristle deck brush and a suitable deck cleaner.

Use a suitable cleaning solution mixed in warm water and old towel or soft brush to gently wipe off stains, and then rinse with clean water.

Cleaning fluids containing solvents, bleach and abrasive cleaners should never be used on a Treadmaster non-skid deck.

KiwiGrip is impervious to common spillages such as coffee, alcohols, carbonated drinks but liquids such as oil, acetone, gasoline and diesel can damage KiwiGrip.

Quickly mop up such solvents and promptly clean the area with boat soap and a soft bristle brush. KiwiGrip non-skid deck can be pressure washed after scrubbing, and well diluted bleach could also be used on it.

Painted non-skid should be washed using a soft bristled brush and boat cleaner. Be careful not to scrub too hard or scrub with a hard bristled brush. Hard scrubbing can dislodge and strip off the paint.

How To Clean Fiberglass Boat Deck

fiberglass boat deck cleaner
credit:thehulltruth.com

Fiberglass deck could go mouldy when left without proper cleaning and maintenance.Although many boat owners use bleach to clean their fiberglass deck, it is better to use a non-skid cleaning solution and light scrubbing for the cleaning.

Step 1

Assemble the right cleaning materials; deck cleaner, deck brush, hose/pressure washer, old towel, gloves, buffer for polishing

Step 2

Brush down and pressure wash the fiberglass deck and the sides. This will remove a lot of mildew and debris from the deck.

Step 3

Wet the fiberglass deck, if it has dried up, and make sure everything the whole surface is covered with a film of water. Use a hose to do this if you have tap nearby simply splash a bucket of clean water across the deck.

Step 4

Pour the cleaner on a section of the deck and spread it around every area of the deck with a deck brush. Make sure the cleaner is thoroughly distributed and reaches every area of the fiberglass deck.

Apply some cleaning fluid on a towel and use it to clean hidden corners and crooks that the brush might not reach.

Step 5

Wait for about 3 - 5 minutes for the chelating agents in the cleaning fluid to acton  molds, mildews and stains. After, use the deck brush once again to scrub off the dirts.

Step 6

Rinse the deck with clean water using your however, sprayer or pressure washer.If using a pressure washer, keep the settings at the lowest in order not to strip off the protective non-slip coating the deck cleaner has left on the fiberglass deck.

Step 7

With a waxing brush apply buffers and polish on the fiberglass, to bring out the sheet and make your boat shine all over.

Boat Deck Cleaning Services

Should you not feel like going through the hassles of cleaning your boat yourself, there are boat cleaning businesses that provide cleaning and detailing services for boats, so that boat owners don’t have to wash their boats themselves.

Boat cleaning rates vary depending on the size of a boat, the boat’s state and the services requested. Most businesses charge between $8 and $40 per foot.

For instance, a 30-foot boat might cost between $240 and $1,200 to clean, depending on what was involved in the cleaning.

With simple Google search you'll find and access boat cleaning services.

How To Clean A Boat Deck (Video Instructions)

For an informative YouTube video on how to clean your boat deck, watch the one below.

Other Boat Cleaning Guides

How To Clean Boat Seats

How To Clean Boat Bilge

How To Clean Boat Fuel Tank

How To Clean Boat Hull

How To Clean A Dirty Boat