How to Clean Your Boat Hull

Cleaning your boat hull is essential because it maintains your boat's value, increases fuel economy, helps it glide through the water easier and extends its longevity. Whether you're wondering how to clean boat hull fiberglass or aluminum finishes, understanding how to properly remove debris and protect your boat's surfaces helps it last longer.

How to Clean Your Boat Hull

Importance of Cleaning Your Boat Hull

Cleaning the hull of a boat has the following benefits:

  • Longevity: Cleaning your boat hull helps your boat last longer and reduces the repairs you need to complete.
  • Speed: Boats glide through the water smoothly when they are free of barnacles, grease and debris, allowing them to move faster.
  • Fuel economy: Clean boats have a greater fuel economy because their smooth gliding reduces the amount of gas you need to make them move at your desired speed.
  • Value: Cleaning your boat hull helps maintain its value, making it more attractive to future buyers if you decide to sell it.

What You Need to Clean Your Boat Hull

What You Need to Clean Your Boat Hull

Gather the following boat hull cleaning supplies before you begin cleaning:

  • Boat trailer
  • Hose
  • Boat hull cleaning solution
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Sponge
  • soft cloths
  • Boat wax

How to Clean Your Boat Hull

Clean your boat hull in the following steps:

1. Remove Your Boat From the Water

Some professional boat cleaning services use scuba-diving equipment to clean boat hulls underwater. However, cleaning your boat hull on land is much safer and easier. Removing your boat from the water for cleaning is beneficial for the following reasons:

  • Effective cleaning: Effective boat cleaning requires fresh water. You can scrub and rinse your boat hull with the fresh water it needs when you clean it on land. Cleaning your boat out of the water allows you to clean without corrosive saltwater in the way.
  • Easier access: Cleaning your boat hull outside of the water allows you to see each barnacle and stain for easier removal. A professional diver may miss spots due to murky water.
  • Safety: Cleaning a boat on land is much safer than underwater cleaning. While professionals are trained and skilled in diving, underwater cleaning often requires them to dive in polluted marinas and murky waters to reach a boat's hull. Diving in marinas presents risks of ear infections, and diving under a boat hull presents the risk of entrapment.

Use a boat trailer to pull your boat to an open area near a hose. Placing your boat near a hose allows you to rinse it easily. 

2. Remove Debris and Stains

Boat hulls collect debris and substances such as barnacles, weeds, grease and slime. Rinse your boat hull thoroughly to remove debris and stains before cleaning. You may also need to scrub scum from the hull's surface with a soft bristle brush and spot clean with a cleaning solution. Removing particles from the hull's surface prevents corrosion when you scrub your boat clean in the following step.

3. Apply a Quality Cleaning Solution

After removing debris and stains from your boat hull, you can choose and apply a cleaning solution according to the solution's specific instructions. Some cleaning products may need to remain on the surface for several minutes before you rinse them, and some may require some scrubbing with a soft bristle brush or a sponge.

The right cleaning solution removes grease and stains without stripping the boat's surface materials to give your hull a radiant shine. Cleaning solutions with minimal chemical and acid content are safer for the environment. While cleaning your boat on land helps to prevent chemicals from entering the water, some chemicals can still flow down into the water or seep into the environment through the soil. Choose a cleaning solution that is safe for the environment to help protect natural land and resources.

It's also essential to choose a cleaning solution that removes grease and stains. Make sure your hull cleaner can clean your hull effectively. Many gentle boat surface cleaning solutions can completely remove dirt, slime, grease and particles without stripping your boat's surfaces.

Hull Material

The difference between learning how to clean an aluminum boat hull versus a fiberglass boat hull is choosing the right cleaning solution. Only use a cleaning solution that applies to your hull's material to prevent damage. This step is fairly easy because many boat hull cleaning solutions apply to multiple surface materials. Consider the following options before cleaning your boat hull:

  • Marykate On & Off Hull & Bottom Cleaner: You can use the Marykate On & Off Hull & Bottom Cleaner to clean a fiberglass hull surface. This cleaner is intended for fiberglass surfaces only, and it will not damage a gel coat. It effectively removes waterline, algae, gas exhaust and rust stains to leave hulls clean and shining. 
  • Marykate On & Off Gel Cleaner:Marykate On & Off Gel Hull & Bottom Cleaner is another solution for fiberglass surfaces. It has a special viscous formula that clings to surfaces and breaks down grease, oil, rust stains and scum lines. It also has a bold application color, making your clean and missed spots easily visible.
  • Star Brite Hull Cleaner: Star Brite Hull Cleaner is a gel spray with excellent cleaning power and cling time. It dissolves stains effectively, and it's free of harmful acids. Use Star Brite Hull Cleaner to remove tough stains from fiberglass or painted surfaces.
  • Star Brite Instant Hull Cleaner: You can use Star Brite Instant Hull Cleaner on metal, fiberglass and painted surfaces. It's free of harmful acids, and it quickly removes various stains.
  • Salty Hull Heavy Duty Boat Cleaner: Salty Hull formulates another cleaning solution safe for all boat surfaces. The Salty Hull Heavy Duty Boat Cleaner formula cleans salt, fish guts, blood, chum and grime from any boat surface.
  • Salty Hull Stainless Foam Gun: The Salty Hull Stainless Foam Gun is another product that's safe for all exterior boat surfaces. It uses Salty Hull Foaming Boat Soap to clean boat surfaces and leave them shining. Salty Hull Foaming Boat Soap consists of biodegradable cleaning agents, and it effectively cleans dirt and grime without damaging paint coatings.

4. Rinse and Dry the Hull

After you leave your chosen cleaning solution on the boat hull for the recommended time, you can rinse it with fresh water. Use a hose to rinse away the cleaning solution, and check for any areas that require additional spot cleaning. Once all of the hull's areas are clean and rinsed, allow the boat to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

5. Apply Wax

Waxing is an important step after cleaning your boat hull. Applying wax to a clean, dry hull surface protects it from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Wax also creates a protective barrier between the hull's surface and the debris and scum that may cling to it when you return it to the water. Wax solutions such as Meguire Flagship Premium Marine Wax and Meguire One Step Cleaner Wax #50 are perfect for fiberglass and gel coat surfaces while Collinite Liquid Metal Wax No. 850 works great on metal boat finishes.

Purchase Quality Cleaning Solutions and Boat Wax From Fawcett Boat Supplies

Purchase Quality Cleaning Solutions and Boat Wax From Fawcett Boat Supplies

Cleaning and waxing your boat hull with the right supplies helps it last longer and improves your boat's fuel economy. Fawcett Boat Supplies offers safe and effective boat cleaning supplies and wax to help you protect your boat's most important surfaces. Browse our wide selection of boat cleaning products to prepare your boat hull for the boating season. 

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