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Cleaning and Maintenance for Vinyl Boat Seats

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Cleaning and Maintenance for Vinyl Boat Seats

Summary: If your boat's interior is experiencing sunfading, dry spots and mold & mildew stains read on to hear some quick and simple detailing tips.

We like to save our readers money. In the spirit of the seas we frugally set out to show our readers how they can increase the value of their boat by proper cleaning. 

The boat above shows damage of dirty, mold, and mildew. Image courtesy of Mighty Clean Auto Spa

Cheap Ways to Clean Marine Upholstery

Before you start spending money on the superior products, here are some basic ways to clean the grime off your boat's interior. If the damage isn't so extensive, they just might do the trick.

1) Make a solution in a spray bottle.
You could try white vinegar solution (80% water 20% vinegar)
You could try a watered down bleach (90% water 10% bleach).

2) Spray the solution on the affected area and rub with a sponge, magic eraser, or soft bristle brush. 

In this video, minor dirt/mildew stains are removed with a 90% water 10% bleach solution. The results aren't super spectacular, which is why we recommend product specifically designed for marine upholstery. 

 Read on.

If your boat interior looks like this, you'll need a more concentrated product than white vinegar or watered down bleach.

Tough Products For Marine Vinyl Care

Soap and water can only go so far. Professional vehicle boat and vehicle detailers use the concentrated stuff. When mending your own boat or yacht upholstery look for marine grade products. You'll want a cleaner that penetrates and moisturizes the vinyl as well as a product that can deliver UV protection, which wards against the sun's rays. 

Boat Cleaning and Detailing [video below] Darren Priest of Orange County California, who has been an auto and boat detailer since 1988, recommends using Meguiar's Super-Degreaser. (He mixes 4 parts water for every 1 part of the degreaser, pictured in the orange spray bottle). The tools he uses for the job include a magic eraser, a nonabrasive scrub pad, a scrub brush, and a microfiber cloth - in addition to the degreaser. 

Best Mold remover ...[video below] John Ulman was able to remove a moderate amount of mildew from his boat seats using Marine 31. Such hardened mildew is typical of most fisherman's boats, or boats that are exposed to saltwater, rain, or organic matter like falling leaves, and it comes out pretty effortlessly. 

Cleaning Your Boat [video below] Andy of G4 Outdoors was able to remove solid dirt, grime, and mildew from his boat seat chair using multiple applications of Meguiar's Gold Class spray bottle and a cloth to wipe it out. 

Why are my boat seats oily? 

It could be sunscreen. A lot of the times when you take your boat out, your passengers have applied sun tan lotion or sun protection. They can leave an oily film wherever they sit down.

girls lounging on the boat

Think very hard the next time you invite beautiful women on your boat!

Sun tan lotion or other oils can leave a grimy residue on boat covers. (Use a concentrated degreaser or a marine-friendly solvent that can cut through the oily film and remove these tough stains). 

How do you test the effectiveness of boat seat cleaners?

When unsure of a product, the best way to begin is to test the product in a hidden area first. If the results are indicating that you're headed in a good direction then you continue with your established product and technique. If your results are bad, then choose another strategy. (By testing the product and technique in an inconspicuous area first you don't run the risk of using too much product in an area). 

Disadvantages to "two in one" products 

Stay away from "2-in-1" products. Products advertised like "Cleaner and Protectant" are oftentimes watered down, and can be consistently counted on to neither clean, nor protect the vinyl as advertised. If you want to clean, buy a cleaner. If you want to protect the surface, then buy a protectant.  

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Final Takeaways

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We hope these tips and videos have been helpful for boat owners out there. Here are some final tips before you sail away.

--Don't scrub too hard, especially with a hard bristle brush

--Magic scrub erasers (such as the one used by Darren Priest) are magic for a reason. Highly recommended. 

--Igor, owner of Leather Care Supply uses Dyo Foam Powder on his boat as a detergent and cleaner. He mixes 19 parts water with 1 part detergent.

Personally, I've never seen his boat. But I heard a rumor that everyone in the Hallendale Beach marina is envious. 

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>>Dyo Foam Pownder is available here

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  • Alex Pop
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