Cleaning a Boat: How to Care for the Interior

You work hard to keep your boat looking beautiful. You routinely take it
out of the water, give it a thorough washing, apply wax, and do your best to
protect the exterior paint job on the hull—the paint job that has made your
boat resemble the boat of your dreams. Then the unexpected happens—someone spills juice all over the interior carpet.

Any proud boat owner knows that feeling. Your work isn’t quite done until
you’ve mastered the art of cleaning the interior
of your boat as well as the exterior. And while we at BoatLIFE have a lot to
say on this particular issue, we thought a quick overview was in order for
beginners:

The
Boat Bilge: A Review

Perhaps the most conspicuous of all the interior sections of your boat is
the bilge. Not only does this area see frequent exposure to water, but it’s
exposed to all sorts of other things that necessitate thorough and regular
cleaning.

Last time, we offered a simple
three-step
program for cleaning out your bilge, and it boils down to:

  • Acquiring the proper cleaners, especially a
    dedicated bilge
    cleaner
  • Applying the cleaner and letting it soak
  • Scrubbing and rinsing

Of course, there are more subtleties to the entire process that warrant
your further investigation. But remember this: before you clean your bilge, do
the proper research, because the process you use will ultimately be not only
more effective, but far easier.

Vinyl
Upholstery

Short of splash water itself, vinyl is one of the most common materials
you’ll see inside of boat. As such, it pays to know exactly how to handle it.

  • Clean off vinyl with a damp cloth first, removing
    salt, grime, dirt, and other debris.
  • Apply a thin layer of Vinyl cleaning material; a spray
    bottle
    is perfect for this purpose.
  • Rinse with fresh water, dry, and repeat as needed.

Additional steps may be needed if you have deep mildew stains—a good firm
brush including a 4-1 water-ammonia solution is recommended at
AmericanBoating.org.

Teak

With teak, it’s all about proper maintenance. You’ll want to wash off
teak with the same mild detergent you would use for your hull. Once rinsed and
dried, you can then apply a teak oil
and sealer
that will do much for the long-term protection of your teak.

If your teak has degraded over the years, you may want to think about
sanding it down before a proper cleaning, just to refurbish the teak to a
higher quality and ensure that the sealer works into the teak itself.

These three challenges represent some of the most labor-intensive
cleanings you’ll have to do on your boat; but if you do them properly, then not
only will you maximize the effectiveness of each clean, but your proper
maintenance will help keep materials like vinyl and teak
well-protected…although you might want to rethink that putting an end to that
darn orange juice policy. 

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