How To Clean And Wax Your Boat
There is nothing like the anticipation of getting your boat ready for the water, be it the spring launch or a mid season scrub and shine. And having it sparkling clean adds more than just pride in your ride, but real value.
An environmentally friendly boat soap takes care of removing the dirt deposited from air borne pollutants, bird and insect droppings, as well as plain old dust. We are fortunate enough to keep our boat in a larger marina with the convenience of being able to park our car right behind the boat slip. The only drawback with this arrangement is that the boat is continuously exposed to the associated dust kicked up by incoming vehicles. A good, soft bristle brush will show that dirt who’s in charge, while saving your back. Regular washing throughout the season is also a good practice, making this one of the most commonly used tools aboard!
Deeper stains left behind from bird and spider droppings, tree sap and seeds may need a more concentrated spot cleaner. These areas may require a little more elbow grease and these types of cleaners should help do the trick.
If you have residue from old stickers or stripes, glue left behind will clean off with basic acetone. Keep in mind that acetone is highly flammable and can cause skin irritation. As well, it will cause dye to run from fabrics and other material, so use extreme caution while handling and always test an inconspicuous are first.
After everything has been washed and rinsed thoroughly, use a genuine leather chamois to wipe away any standing water. These also come is handy after a rainfall to avoid water spots. It’s also a good habit to dry things off on the mornings after a particularly ‘dewy’ night. This helps to keep the bugs from sticking to the boat!
Polish & Wax
Restoring the shine on your hull is an easy task when using the appropriate tools and polishes. For dull and chalky finishes, a power polisher with a more aggressive polishing compound may be required.
Care should be taken when using a polisher as, depending on the quality of boat builder, some gel coat finishes may be thinner at sharp edges and subject to ‘burn through’. If this happens and the fiberglass matting is exposed, repairs would be required – so go easy in these areas.
For gel coat finishes that are not as faded, a ‘one step’ type of application could be all you need. These offer cleaner and wax in one bottle and, when dealing with smaller areas, can be easily applied by hand.
If you are waxing a larger hull or superstructure areas, a random orbital waxer/polisher will get the job done quicker – and save your arm muscles. A random orbital works by both spinning the bonnet in a circular motion, while also moving around in an elliptical fashion. What this does is help to apply the wax more uniformly and effectively so that you don’t miss any spots.
While the wax is drying, this is a good time to thoroughly inspect the entire work area to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything. Making sure that the more difficult spots to get at, such as under the rub rail or anchor roller, vent ports or inlets, cleats, etc. have been covered ensures they are protected as well.
Once the wax has set up and is dry to the touch, it’s time to buff off. Wipe off the residue with a circular motion using clean micro fiber cloths. Gently hand buff the entire area to bring up a lustrous shine.
Now it’s time to stand back and enjoy the results of your labor. Knowing that your pride and joy has been protected from the elements will lead to more relaxation on the water. With everything gleaming and shining, you just might need a ‘cool’ pair of sun glasses to enjoy that ‘hot’ looking boat ;-)