Living the Dream while Keeping the Gleam
Spending every day on the water is what most would refer to as living the dream. Spending every evening cleaning the boat is what makes one an expert on tennis elbow when using the wrong boat cleaners. Wakesurf Orlando operates year round which provides us the opportunity to test a variety of boat cleaning products under commercial usage. We spent the past year testing several marine cleaning supplies with one goal: to reduce our time invested in keeping a white boat with white interior looking clean and new. This article is not intended to debate the best boat cleaning methods but rather to offer a systematic process for effectively using boat cleaning products for the best results - call it Boat Cleaning 101. We hope sharing our boat cleaning hacks will help you spend more evenings with family and friends rather than admiring ten million water spots… unless you are into that sort of thing.
So the lake day has ended, your family and friends have departed, and the cooler is empty. You have Vitamin D in your skin, sunscreen on your skin, and a smile across your face. Off in the distance, droplets of water impact the ground in a soft, unorchestrated symphony. The last thing you want to do is clean the wake boat but as a responsible boat owner valuing your investment, it is an absolute must do. Regardless if you stow your boat on a trailer or in a boat house, these are the steps we take every day to ensure our company boat looks new and shiny.
Remove your wakeboarding and wakesurfing equipment, all personal belongings, and any trash or other wet articles that will not remain in the boat to clear space for boat cleaning. Lift the sun deck pads and rear seats (or storage lids if equipped) allowing water to drain from the fabric and cushions. Remove all boat seat cushions that are not affixed to the wake boat placing them in a proper position to allow water drainage and drying. Lift all hinged boat seats and backrests to ensure water is not retained between the cushions. Boats equipped with Seadek or carpeted flooring should have the bimini top closed (provided the sun hasn’t disappeared beyond the horizon) to speed drying the floor. While the interior is air drying, begin cleaning the exterior of the wake boat.
How to Clean the Boat Exterior
Cleaning the boat exterior is a fairly painless and straightforward process. Wipe the boat exterior with a chamois cloth starting from the gunwale then working downward. Alternate between horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and semi-circular motions to avoid tennis elbow - trust us on this. The darker colors of the boat gelcoat tend to have the most difficult to remove water spots. A slightly damp chamois cloth will typically remove the water spots with a little elbow grease but a quick spray of Boat Bling Hot Sauce followed by a quick wipe will immediately remove the water spots. The same applies to exterior chrome accents including exhaust pipes, rub rails, and the Malibu Power Wedge.
Several lakes are yellow or brownish colored due to tannins, which can be found in high concentration of certain tree and plant life. As this surrounding vegetation naturally decays, the tannins are absorbed into the lake soil. There are no health concerns regarding these types of lakes but a boat left idle in a tannin-rich lake for an extended period of time will stain at the waterline requiring a fair amount of elbow grease to remove. Oils and greases can have similar effects as well. A quick spray of Boat Bling Hot Sauce followed by semi-circular wipes with the chamois cloth will immediately remove tarnish from the boat hull.
Malibu Boats as well as other wake boat manufacturers powder coat the metal towers for protection from the elements. The tower is prone to impact bugs and other debris especially when being trailered. The powder coated surface can be a rough crinkle coat that makes wiping dirt and grime a tad more difficult than the smooth finish of the boat hull. We recommend using a standard hand-held scrub brush available at any local store in conjunction with a few sprays of Boat Bling Hot Sauce to aid in removal of any unsightly bug guts… Mmmm, protein.
How to Clean the Boat Interior
The best way to keep white boat upholstery clean is preventative maintenance. Damp environments are a breeding ground for mold spores - which are omnipresent - so thoroughly drying the boat interior upholstery is essential after each day on the lake. Different types of molds produce varying colors ranging from white to black on the color spectrum. Don’t be surprised to see small spots of colors such as blue, green, pink, or even yellow as these are different types of mold spores that have landed in a moist environment and propagated.
“Hey honey, look at the beautiful white interior on this boat!” said the husband mold as his wife mold replied, “Oh George, it’s perfect! Let’s start a colony!”
Use a dry towel to wipe down all the upholstery on the boat - dryness is key. Most boat manufacturers use a stitching seam on the base of each seat cushion where the fabric affixes to a polymer base. This seam is prone to water retention and thus a rampant breeding ground for molds or mildew to appear. Use a dry towel to press firmly against this seam to squeeze out any residual water. This may take a few attempts but helps eliminate residual moisture from a problematic area.
The sides of all boat seat cushions when sandwiched together not only retain water and any passerby mold spores but also serve as a crevice for debris to become lodged. This is a problematic area for staining and mold growth thus we recommend using Boat Bling Vinyl Sauce when cleaning the sides of all boat seat cushions. One of the most prominent areas this occurs is between the rear seats and the mounted backrest cushions on the front engine bay wall. We typically allot longer drying times for the rear seat cushions for this reason. If mold is discovered in any of these areas, we recommend liberally spraying Boat Bling Vinyl Sauce while using the hand-held scrub brush to remove any colored molds.
The sun deck pads deserve extra cleaning attention because they serve as a walkway for dirty feet in and out of the boat. Boats equipped with a walk-through (like the Malibu MXZ) can alleviate some of the extra cleaning required. The sun deck pads intersect with the transom at the stern of the boat. This is typically the wettest area on the wake boat due to riders climbing in and out of the water as well as water splashing against the stern. Taking a few extra minutes to ensure this area is properly dried can prevent future issues with the boat upholstery. Boat Bling also offers Condition Sauce as a spray-on application used monthly to provide UV protection for the interior boat upholstery.
Why Boat Bling?
We tested several exterior boat cleaning products including 303 Marine Cleaner and Boat Juice Exterior Cleaner. Most of the products performed well on the gelcoat but in some cases were not as effective on multiple surfaces. Boat Bling Hot Sauce works phenomenally on gel coat, metal trim, powder coating, windshields, and even touch screen glass leaving a streak-free finish and a freshly detailed look without any residue. Boat Bling also offers a spray-on wax treatment for use every three months called Quickie Sauce. Boat detailers typically charge around twenty dollars per foot while Boat Bling marine cleaning products are approximately twenty dollars per bottle - we’ll let you do the math.
Despite the numerous interior boat cleaning products we sampled, Boat Bling Vinyl Sauce is the only marine upholstery cleaning product that removed black, blue, green, pink, and yellow mold spots on white boat upholstery without several additional treatments. Boat Bling Vinyl Sauce also removed a few tough fabric stains where other marine cleaning products had failed. It even brought back the brilliance of our white sun deck pads after multiple failed attempts with other boat upholstery cleaning products. In our opinion, this is the best interior boat cleaning product we have used on the market. Never fear cleaning white boat interior again. Now if Boat Bling would only make household cleaning products…