How To Clean Boat Seats

Written by Paul

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How To Clean Boat Seats | Boat Seats Cleaning Products | Boat Seats Cleaning Services | Video: Cleaning Boat Seats

Cleaning boat seats from dirt and stains can make a huge difference to the overall look and feel of your boat/vessel.

So how do you go about getting those seats looking great? 

We'll show you some simple hacks and some inexpensive boat cleaning spray, marine cleaner, boat cleaner and another cleaning products to assist you with those routine cleanings.

Cleaning the boat seats is a great part in the overall cleaning of a dirty boat.

These cleaning instructions apply to most boat owners with vinyl seating including:

  • Small Motorboats
  • Sailboats
  • Pontoon Boats
  • Yachts
  • Speed Boats

Before we get into it, it's super important you have the optimal cleaning product as part of regular maintenance cleanings.

Once you follow the instructions, your boat seats should be spotless and the much needed deep cleaning should have those seats looking brand new again.

The type of seats will make a huge difference in how you go about washing and cleaning those seats. For example, for vinyl seats, you'll need marine-grade vinyl cleaner to ensure you don't stain or damage anything.

You'll also be giving them a heavy scrubbing which will help with stain removal, wiping away any mold or mildew and any water damage especially from a used boat which has been used regularly.

Marine Cleaner Products You'll Need

  1. Boat Cleaning Spray/cleaning solution
  2. Clean, damp cloth/marine grade scrub brush/sponge
  3. Warm soapy water
  4. A dry towel
  5. UV Protective Spray
  6. A Vacuum for tough areas

Just remember, don't use a harsh brush or it may damage your boat seats. Also, be aware of using bleach too often as it can be very harsh on the boat seats.

It's best to use the bleach once when doing a deep cleaning to tackle the tough mold and mildew and then use regular boat cleaning spray to maintain spotless upholstery.

products boat cleaning spray
credit: dossmarine.com

Okay, let's get into the ideal cleaning process for your boat seats and let's get that mold/water stains removed.

Step 1: Get Marine Cleaner Products

The first thing you need to do is get the products you'll need. (mentioned above) It will make your life so much easier. And as a reminder incase you are skimming this article, be careful using bleach to tackle those tough water spots/mold buildup etc.

You might need to use a bleach cleaning product if the boat seats are particularly dirty with water damage but don't use it as part of your regular deep cleaning.

Ideally, you'll get some good-quality cleaner and it won't cost too much.

Step 2: Assess The Marine Seats For Water Damage

Next, you'll want to make sure there isn't a lot of damage on the boat seats. Example, UV rays from sun causes a lot of damage to the upholstery.

In this case, no amount of cleaning will make it perfect so you might want to replace the particular seat in question or simply use a vinyl repair kit from Amazon to help fix it.

Step 3: Start Spraying Cleaning Agents On The Boat Seats

boat cleaner
credit: sugarhouseawning.com

It's best to divide this up into patches. Work on a patch at a time and spray the cleaning product on the surface. Use a brush/towel with warm water to remove the mold/dirty area.

You'll want to follow the instructions of the boat cleaning spray which generally advises to letting it set on the seat for a few minutes before scrubbing.

Once it's set, the mold and dirt should come off quite easy.

The most effective and best cleaners will need something like the Magic Cleaning Sponge (mentioned above) to help with those extra stubborn areas and a bit of heavy scrubbing in some cases. (Don't go overboard on this... pun intended) 

We wouldn't want the marine seats to crack or the color to fade which can happen with excessive scrubbing.

Step 4: Dry The Boat Seats Using Microfiber Cloth

Once you've gotten the mold/dirt and the mildew stain out of the seats from washing them, you'll want to use a microfiber cloth to dry the seats.

This will also remove any excess or final bits of dirt, water stains etc and help tidy everything up.

Step 5: Apply UV Protective Spray To The Boat Seats

marine-grade vinyl cleaner
credit: pontoonopedia.com

Now, this can vary depending on the boat cleaning spray you purchase. Some sprays come with all the protection and cleaning in one container.

But you can buy a UV protective spray separately. If you already have an all in one type spray, you don't need to follow this step.

For those that buy UV protective spray separate can go onto this step. UV rays from the sun can cause the seats to crack and color to fade while you are out boating. It can be annoying.


Simply use a UV protection spray and apply it to the boat seats in sections (similar to when you were cleaning them).

Use a clean microfiber cloth and slowly rub the spray into the seat in circular motions.

Once complete, you'll want to get another cloth to get the excess spray off but there is no need for hard scrubbing here as we want the spray to help protect the seats.

Regular Deep Cleaning

You will need to do regular cleanings as part of a regular boat maintenance schedule.

Periodic cleaning throughout a month of heavy use with lots of boating activities is a wise option to ensure superior cleaning, removal of water spots and other general stain removal.

Ensuring you regularly give your marine seats a deep cleaning with help protect against water damage and other problems.

It doesn't take long to follow the above steps and it can be worth it to keep your boat looking great, plus who likes a boating trip with a moldy upholstery.

Another tip is to use alcohol wipes regularly to help keep things clean and nice.

Large Boat Cleaning Company

Another option for those with larger boats or for boat owners who would prefer to hire professional cleaners to handle all the cleaning process are the boat cleaning companies.

Now, this will depend on where you are in the world as the services may not be available in your area.

But as a general tip, you can contact your local marina or marine store and they should be able to put you in contact with someone local that will come and do this for you.

Alternatively, a simply google search for 'boat cleaning services' should also help.

The price will vary quite a lot (depending on size of job etc) but you can get full cleaning for $200 in some cases. You may even find someone on craiglist to do the job for you.

How To Clean Boat Seats (Video Instructions) 

Below is a video from beginboating.com on how to clean vinyl boat seats.

As you can see, the cleaning process is quite simple and easy and with routine cleanings, you will have your boat looking great on your next boating trip.

Other Boat Cleaning Guide