How To Clean A Boat Cover

Maintaining your boat cover is essential to preserving its life and keeping it looking good. Cleaning the cover on a regular basis ensures that dirt, debris, and other contaminants won’t accumulate and weaken the material. With the right supplies and a bit of elbow grease, you can easily clean your boat cover and make sure it lasts for years to come. In this article, we’ll show you how to properly clean your boat cover so you can keep it looking as good as new! We’ll provide step-by-step instructions on what supplies to gather, how to pre-treat the cover, rinse it off, dry it out, and store it correctly when not in use. So let’s get started!

Gather the Necessary Supplies

Gathering the right materials is essential for successful maintenance of any protective fabric layer, especially when it comes to cleaning a boat cover. To ensure that your fabric stays in good condition, you should always handle it with care and use professional cleaning products. Make sure to have a soft-bristle brush, a mild detergent specifically designed for boat covers, and clean water on hand before starting the cleaning process.

When selecting a detergent, look for one that is labeled as safe for all fabrics, such as nylon or polyester. You can also use a solution made of warm water and white vinegar if necessary. It’s important to avoid using harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia as they can be damaging to the fabric and may cause discoloration. Additionally, make sure you don’t scrub too hard when brushing away dirt or debris; this could lead to tearing or fraying of the material over time.

For best results, it’s recommended to use lukewarm water rather than hot; this will help protect against shrinkage or fading from heat damage. If there are areas where mold has started forming due to moisture buildup, try using a diluted mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide instead of detergent – this will help remove any bacteria without damaging the fabric fibers. Once you’re done washing your boat cover, hang it up in an area with good air circulation until completely dry – this will ensure that no mold or mildew forms while drying!

Pre-Treat the Cover

Before you get started, it’s important to pre-treat the fabric so that dirt and grime don’t become embedded! Start by treating any existing stains with a mild soap and water solution. Allow this to sit for about 15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. It’s also a good idea to use a mildew prevention spray on areas prone to moisture buildup. This will help keep your boat cover looking fresh and clean longer.

Next, you’ll want to use an upholstery cleaner specifically designed for marine fabrics. Make sure to read the instructions carefully before applying the product as different cleaners require different application techniques. Once applied, be sure to let the cleaner do its job for at least five minutes before wiping away with a damp cloth or sponge. If needed, repeat this process until all dirt has been removed from your boat cover fabric.

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When finished, allow your cover ample time to dry completely in order for it to be ready for storage or re-installation onto your boat. For extra protection against UV rays and other environmental pollutants, consider applying a waterproofing agent after treating with upholstery cleaner but before drying the fabric entirely. Doing so can help extend the life of your boat cover while keeping it looking its best!

Rinse the Cover

Refresh your fabric with a thorough rinse, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve taken great care of your vessel. Before rinsing, make sure to select a soap specifically designed for boat covers; harsh detergents can damage the material. Gently scrub the cover in circular motions, making sure to remove any dirt or debris clinging to it. When finished, rinse the cover off completely using a garden hose or low-pressure sprayer nozzle. To ensure maximum cleanliness, use warm water when rinsing and repeat if necessary.

After cleaning is complete and the cover has been rinsed off properly, hang it up on an outdoor clothesline or railing to dry naturally in direct sunlight. Avoid placing it too close to any heat source as this could cause shrinkage or discoloration. Additionally, consider flipping over one side of the cover every few hours so both sides are exposed evenly during drying time. Leaving wet spots behind will encourage mold growth which can ruin fabric permanently!

When hanging up your cleaned boat cover for drying, take extra precautions against strong winds by anchoring each corner down securely with rope or bungee cords to prevent tangling and tearing. With proper maintenance and cleaning practices like these in place – you’ll be able to keep your vessel looking its best season after season!

Dry the Cover

When your cover is clean and rinsed, hang it up in the sun to dry – securely anchoring each corner so it won’t get carried away by any gusty winds. Make sure that you have a place for it to be hung where there is plenty of airflow and direct sunlight, as this will help the drying process along. The UV rays from the sun can also help kill off any bacteria on the boat cover that may have survived your deep scrubbing, helping to avoid mold.

If possible use clothespins or clips at each corner of the cover to make sure that it stays put while hanging up in the sun; this is especially important if you live in an area with strong winds. Give your cover enough time out in the sun until it is completely dry before bringing it back inside – usually a few hours should do the trick, depending on how hot and sunny it is outside.

You can also use a fan nearby to speed up the drying process; just make sure not to let air blow directly onto your boat cover as this could cause damage or tearing. If necessary, flip over your boat cover after one side has finished drying so that both sides are given ample time out in the sun before being brought inside.

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Store the Cover Properly

Properly storing your cover will ensure it’s always ready to go when you need it! When the time comes to store your boat cover, you should make sure it is completely dry. Folding and storing a wet cover can cause mildew and mold growth, making your cover unusable. To maintain its condition and avoid fading, you should fold or roll the cover neatly rather than bunching it up in a ball. Make sure to fold along the seams as much as possible so that no creases are made.

If you don’t have enough space to lay out the entire length of the boat cover while folding or rolling it, try using a piece of plywood laid over two saw horses. Place the folded or rolled-up cover on top of this board so that there isn’t any strain on the material due to folding over itself. This will keep creases from forming in one area more than another and give your boat cover added protection against wear and tear caused by being folded up tightly for long periods of time.

When properly stored away, your boat’s cover should be able to last for many years without needing replacement. To protect against dirt, dust, and moisture damage, make sure that wherever you store your boat’s cover is clean and dry before putting it away for an extended period of time. If possible, consider placing a tarp or plastic sheet underneath the covering before storage in case any water seeps through in cases where humidity levels may be high or if there are occasional rain showers outside. Taking these precautions now will give you peace of mind knowing that when summer rolls around again next year, your boat’s covering will still look good as new!

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should a boat cover be cleaned?

Cleaning frequency for your boat cover depends on the material it’s made of and the conditions it’s exposed to. For a fabric cover, you should plan to clean it every 3-4 months – or more often if you store your boat outdoors in an environment with high pollution, saltwater, or other harsh elements. If your cover is vinyl or waxed canvas, then you may only need to do deeper cleanings once a year. To keep your boat covered in top condition, use mild soap and warm water when cleaning and avoid any abrasive scrubbing brushes.

What is the best way to clean a boat cover on a budget?

When it comes to cleaning and protecting your boat cover, there are a few ways you can do it on a budget. Start by removing any dirt and debris from the fabric using a soft brush or cloth. After that, clean the material with warm water and mild soap. When finished, use waterproofing spray to protect the seams of the cover and add an extra layer of protection against weather damage. The key to keeping your boat cover in good condition is to regularly inspect for signs of wear or tear and address them promptly so you don’t have bigger problems down the line.

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What type of detergent should I use to clean my boat cover?

When spot cleaning your boat cover, the most important thing to consider is the type of detergent you use. Regular household detergents are not designed for waterproofing and can damage your cover’s protective coating. Instead, opt for a specialized marine product that is specifically designed to clean and protect waterproof fabrics. These detergents provide a deep clean without compromising the waterproofing qualities of your boat cover.

Can I safely use a pressure washer to clean my boat cover?

Using a pressure washer to clean your boat cover can be an effective way of spot cleaning and removing stubborn dirt and grime, however it is important to take proper care when doing so. To safely use a pressure washer, start on the lowest setting and slowly move up as needed. Make sure you keep the nozzle at least six inches away from the fabric and always direct the spray downwards towards the ground. For best results, hand wash any delicate areas first before using a pressure washer for spot cleaning.

How can I prevent mold and mildew growth on my boat cover?

Storing your boat cover properly is key to preventing mold and mildew growth. It’s important to choose a storage area that is dry, cool, and has good airflow. Make sure you avoid areas with high humidity or saltwater exposure, as these can cause the fabric of your cover to deteriorate over time. Additionally, you should always make sure the cover is completely dry before storing it away – if any moisture remains on it, this will increase the chances of mold or mildew developing. Cleaning and taking care of your boat cover regularly will also help keep the fabric in good condition and prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria.


You now know how to clean your boat cover properly. First, gather all the necessary supplies, like a brush and cleaning products. Next, pre-treat any tough spots on the cover before giving it a thorough rinse. After that, dry the cover off and store it in an area where it won’t be exposed to too much moisture or sun. Following these steps will help keep your boat cover looking great for years to come! Plus, you can rest assured knowing your boat is well protected from the elements when you take it out on the water. With just a little bit of effort and care, you can keep your boat looking its best—and that’s something worth celebrating!

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