How To Clean Boat Seats

boat seats

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Stains, hideous mold, and mildew that covers the seats of your boat can be both a matter of great concern and embarrassment. If you want to keep your boat seats looking new, then it’s about time you rethink your technique of cleaning them. 

Not many people are aware of the important things to be kept in mind in order to maintain their boat seats in good shape. Read on to find out the different methods that can be used to effectively clean your boat seats.


How Often Should You Clean Your Boat Seats?

Once a week of basic cleaning is the standard minimum. However, more than once is perfectly fine too because the more you clean the seats, the longer they’ll last. So don’t hesitate. It’s never ‘too much’ cleaning if it’ll always make your boat seats look spick and span!

How To Clean Boat Seats

boat seats

Basic Cleaning

It’s as easy and basic as it sounds! If you don’t take your boat out on a ride so often, then once a week of basic cleaning will do.

However, there are many who love to spend a lot of time with their boat on the water. In such cases, it’ll be good to conduct a basic cleaning of your boat seats at least twice a week. It is important to carry out this routine on a regular basis. Here are the steps you can follow :

Step 1: Get some warm water in a bucket or some similar container. Pour it over the seats or the affected areas.

Step 2: Use a sponge/rag cloth to scrub some soap (without bleach) onto the seats.

Step 3: Repeat this process until the seats are free of dirt, stains, or other grime marks.

Step 4: After the cleaning is done, wipe away all the water. Make sure that the seats are dry and moisture free.

Don’t let it sit to dry in the air by itself. This provides the perfect environment for fungal growth.

Remember! Some of the dirt and contaminants on your boat may not be visible to the naked eye (sunscreen, sweat, etc). So it is best to conduct this basic cleaning each time after using the boat.

Deep Cleaning

Deep cleaning of the boat seats is very essential. You might not be using your boat often and keep it indoors most of the time. But what about all the dust that settles overtime on the boat seats?

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The boat seats may not look so bad because you don’t take the boat out into the water often. Yet it is still necessary to conduct a thorough and deep cleaning of the seats, once a month. Here are the steps to follow while deep cleaning your boat seats:

Step 1: Take plenty of warm water and pour it over the seats of the boat.

Step 2: Use a rag cloth/sponge to rub on some mild soap in a circular motion. Pay extra attention to the affected/stained areas.

Step 3: Leave it to soak for about an hour or two so that the dirt, contaminants, etc. comes loose.

Step 4: Then thoroughly clean again with plenty of water.

Step 5: Repeat this process until the seats are shining and spotless.

Step 6: Wipe it dry completely without leaving moisture behind.

Is Using Magic Eraser A Good Idea?

There are many who recommend using Magic Eraser to clean boat seats. And they’re not entirely wrong. It does greatly help with removing a large majority of bad stains, marks, and dirt from the surface.

There is a terrible downside, however. Depending on the material or fabric of the seats, the usage of Magic Eraser is very likely to take away a good couple of years from the durability of the seats. Especially vinyl seats because it removes a great portion of the seat’s protective coating.

Furthermore, Magic Eraser can also mess with the stitching on the seats. So it is best to not use such products that may be a threat rather than a help to your boat seats. Instead, try out the other boat-friendly cleaning products available in the market. 

Mold And Mildew Begone!

If you have a boat that you care about, then mold and mildew are most probably your worst enemies. But fret not! There are quite a few ways that might be the perfect remedy to this frustrating problem! Here are some methods that can help you remove mold and mildew from your boat seats:

1. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the boat seats are crucial. As cliche as it might sound, prevention is really better than cure.

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Make sure to wash your boat seats at least once a week or even better, twice! Use the method that has been explained step-by-step in ‘Basic Cleaning’.

2. Most boat seats are vinyl. So it is recommended to use a good quality vinyl cleaner (only if the stains/dirt is too stubborn). There are even ones that specifically treat mold and mildew!

Make sure to wash the seats afterward with warm water and wipe it dry completely.

3. Bleach-free mildew remover as well as repellents of approved quality is available in the market. These can be of great help depending on the fabric/material of the boat seats.

4. Nowadays, one can also find marine vinyl that has been specifically treated to resist the growth of bacteria, fungus, etc.

Do Away With Grease And Oil Stains!

The issue of grease and oil stains is pretty much similar to that of clothes. The longer you let it be and don’t do anything about it, the more the chance that it will leave a permanent stain. Here are the steps as to how you can deal with oil and grease stains on your boat seats:

Step 1: Pour warm water over the stained areas of the boat seat.

Step 2: Use some mild bleach-free soap and rub it in well over the stain.

Step 3: Let it sit and soak for about half an hour.

Step 4: Use a rag cloth/sponge to scrub away the stain.

Step 5: Repeat this process until the oil or grease stain is completely gone.

Step 6: Wipe it dry completely.

This is a basic and quite effective way of dealing with oil and grease stains on boat seats. It is also good to use stain repellents that are easily available in the market.

Easy Hack To Get Rid Of Ink Marks!

Who’d have thought that sunscreen is a multi-purpose product that can remove pen marks easily! Sunscreen has come to be widely approved as one of the easiest ways to do away with the ink stains on your boat seats or vinyl surfaces.

Vinyl is a material with numerous pores. So ensure that after removing the pen marks using sunscreen, you wash away the residue with warm water and soap so as to avoid affecting the material of the boat seats.

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Dos and Don’ts

Here are some important dos and don’ts you should remember while cleaning your boat seats:

1. It is important to regularly clean and maintain the boat seats by washing and drying them properly. This way, you can avoid stains, mold, and mildew in the first place. It’s harder to remove these than to prevent them from forming.

2. Be careful of the soap or removal products you use to clean the boat seats. Make sure they are free of bleach or any other caustic cleaners.

It could otherwise drastically reduce the durability of the seats. You’ll end up having to replace them.

3. While scrubbing the surfaces of the boat seats, take care not to use brushes with hard bristles. This might take off the outer coating that protects the material.

4. After cleaning the boat seats, remember to never air dry them. Instead, they should be wiped dry completely. This is because the moisture would otherwise aid in the formation of fungus, bacteria, etc. on the boat seats.


  • Can vinegar be used to clean vinyl boat seats?

Yes. This is a good homemade remedy that has proven to be quite effective. Just make sure to use distilled white vinegar. Also, wash it away with water and soap after clearing the stains.

Vinegar is not however good in the long run as it might begin to affect the durability of the vinyl.

  • Can bleach be used to clean boat seats?

This is a big no-no. Bleach is strictly not a good idea. It removes stains and dirt. But bleach also takes away the protective coating of the seat. It also affects the stitching.

  • Can you pressure wash boat seats?

It is alright to pressure wash boat seats. Just make sure that the nozzle of the pipe is held at a safe distance from the surface of the boat seat.

Take Good Care Of Your Boat Seats!

Boat as well as their seats require a lot of care and attention. So if you want your boat seats to look brand new for a long time, then make sure to regularly clean and maintain them appropriately using effective yet safe methods!

Written by bros

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