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Simple Guide to Cleaning Aluminum Boats

Too many boat owners see aluminum as just another material on their boat. They wash it with soap, dry it off, and call it a day. But if you want to maximize the life of your aluminum boat—and keep your aluminum’s trademark shine—just use this simple guide to cleaning aluminum boats.

Aluminum Boats Can Get Too Hot to Clean

If you’re cleaning an aluminum boat on a hot day, there’s a chance the metal can be so hot to the touch that it’s not even worth handling. It’s best to clean aluminum boats on a normal day, preferably one with shade. Like a car waiting under the sun, aluminum will heat up with exposure to direct sunlight.

This is an easy fix, but if you plan on cleaning your entire boat on a hot day, you might want to temporarily cover your aluminum with a tarp or even some towels just to get it out of the sun.

You Need to Work with Debris-free Aluminum Before You Can Clean It

Aluminum tends to look smooth, which convinces boat owners that they can use any old soap and water and make quick work of it. But it’s important to clear off any debris, dust, or even grease that might have built up on your aluminum boat before you apply a cleaner.

Doing so will give you much clearer aluminum when you’re finished. Even better: it will make the cleaning process itself much easier.

Use a Dedicated Aluminum Boat Cleaner

Aluminum needs to be brightened and polished when cleaned, and then left in a protected state. Ordinary soap and water might clean the surface of the aluminum, but it will do little to restore its luster or offer protection for your boat.

We recommend investing in a low-micron cleaner like our Aluminum Cleaner to brighten, protect and get the best possible shine—especially if you have a
pontoon boat with lots of aluminum.

Aluminum’s Unique Properties

As a chemical element, aluminum has its own set of quirks and unique properties. The problem for most boat owners is that they gloss over these special needs and treat aluminum the same way they treat other elements on their boat.

To avoid these common pitfalls, keep the following in mind:

  • Aluminum tends to develop an oxidized coating. Special aluminum boat cleaner is required to get through this oxidized coating, which is why dedicated Aluminum Cleaner is so important. Otherwise, you’re simply cleaning the coating and not the aluminum.
  • Aluminum will react to exposure to the air. Aluminum’s susceptibility to oxidation means that even if you keep your aluminum boat in prime condition, it’s still going to require a unique cleaning process.
  • The “shine” of aluminum is its natural state before reaction. If you want your aluminum to “shine,” you’ll have to intervene to get through the reaction of oxidation. Aluminum is anti-corrosive, but its reactive nature will mean that even high-quality aluminum loses its shine without intervention.

Aluminum isn’t a complicated metal when you handle it right. Simply invest in the right cleaning products and you’ll keep your aluminum boat shining like new.

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