Bilge Cleaning: How to Clean Your Boat Bilge in 3 Steps

Spend enough time in your boat and
it’s inevitable: something unwelcome will build up in your bilge area. Whether
it’s simply lake water that leaves a bit of a stain or dirty water that needs
to be cleaned out immediately, it’s essential to your boat’s proper function
and appearance that you clean out your bilge from time to time with the proper
materials—and the proper strategies.

But how do you clean your boat
bilge without taking an entire afternoon of work? In this article, we’ll
explore the quickest and most efficient route possible to cleaning your boat
bilge, clearing it out, and restoring it to a “new-boat” quality.

Step
One: Acquire the proper cleaner.

Some online instructions will
advocate that you get a generic soap or cleaner for your boat bilge. The problem?
These soaps will generally not be biodegradable, which means they can do damage
to the water if your plug is loose or if you’re being careless. It’s better to
switch to a dedicated bilge
cleaner

that’s biodegradable, ensuring that it doesn’t leave any long-term remnants in
your boat’s water or on the boat itself.

This bilge cleaner also has the
added benefit of being able to clean out carpets, upholstery, and fabrics,
giving it an inherent advantage over some of the generic stuff. It’s a good
cleaner to keep handy in case you have the need to clean your bilge, your
fabrics, or more at any one time.

Step
Two: Apply the cleaner and soak.

Open up your boat bilge area and
add enough cleaner for the affected areas. You can mix in some water to ensure
that the surface area of any of the staining is reached by your cleaner.
Although you can clean right away, you’d do well to let the cleaner do some
de-greasing; wait a few hours for it to take full effect. This is the kind of
cleaning you can do on a bad-weather day.

The soak accomplishes a few
things: it gives the cleaner time to work its magic and the water mixture
ensures that your cleaner is reaching every part of the boat bilge that needs
cleaning. Your spouse might not like how you let dishes soak before cleaning
them, but you can be assured that the soak will help make things easier on your
bilge cleaning process.

Step
Three: Scrub and rinse.

After a few hours’ soak, it’s time
to do the scrubbing. You can use anything you like here, as long as it has
enough abrasion to really get in the nooks and crannies of your boat bilge
(without doing any damage to the bilge itself). You can take your boat up and
park it uphill somewhere to let the water and biodegradable soap drain. Apply a
little more water for rinsing, and you should now be looking at a cleared out
boat bilge with less staining and less scum.

Now, if only washing the dishes in
the sink could be this easy.

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