How To Clean Vinyl Boat Seats Of Mildew

Are you noticing a musty smell coming from your boat seats? That’s probably mildew, which is caused by moisture and humidity. Cleaning vinyl boat seats of mildew can be tricky but it’s not impossible. With the right products and knowledge, you can restore your boat seats to their original condition. In this article, we’ll discuss how to identify mildew, choose the right products, prepare for cleaning, and maintain your boat going forward. So let’s get started!

Identify Mildew

Before you can tackle the issue, it’s important to know how to spot mildew! To determine causes of mildew on vinyl boat seats, first look for discoloration and/or spots which may be a sign of mold. Additionally, if there is an unpleasant odor coming from your seats, it is likely an indication that there is mildew present. Finally, examine the seat cushions for any signs of cracking or peeling as this could also point to the presence of mildew.

Spot treating with a bleach solution can help remove any existing mildew on your vinyl boat seats. First make sure that you read through the instructions and warnings provided by the manufacturer before beginning cleaning process. Once you have done this create a mixture using one part bleach and four parts water in a bucket or spray bottle. Then apply solution to affected areas using either a soft cloth or sponge; scrubbing gently until all visible traces of mildew are gone.

Once all areas have been treated with bleach solution, rinse off surface where cleaner was applied with clean water from hose and let dry completely before covering up seating area again or use them for desired purpose. It’s important to note that repeated exposure to moisture in combination with warm temperatures can cause mold and mildew growth so regular cleaning may be necessary if problem persists.

Choose the Right Products

When it comes to cleaning vinyl boat seats of mildew, there are a few different types of products you can choose from. Mild detergents are great for basic maintenance and keeping the seats clean; disinfectants offer an extra layer of protection against bacteria; and mold and mildew removers help tackle tough stains or spots that won’t go away with the other two. All three products should be used together in order to ensure your boat seats remain in top condition.

Mild Detergents

You’ll need a mild detergent to tackle the pesky mold and get your seats lookin’ good as new. A mild detergent is any product that won’t be too harsh on your vinyl boat seat material, while still being strong enough to clean out the mold. When choosing a detergent, it’s important to look for non-toxic solutions and eco-friendly options that won’t harm the environment or your boat during cleaning. Many general household products are suitable for this purpose, such as dish soap or laundry detergent. Mix some of this with warm water in a spray bottle and you’ll have an effective solution for cleaning away mold from your boat seats. Be sure to test any cleaner on an inconspicuous area first before using it on the entire seat just to be sure there’s no damage caused by the cleaner itself!


To effectively remove mold from your boat’s seating, it’s important to use a disinfectant in addition to the mild detergent. One of the most effective methods is to mix bleach with water in a 3:1 ratio and spray liberally onto the seats. Allow the solution to sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing lightly with a brush or sponge. It is important not to saturate the area, as this can damage fabric and other materials present on the seats. An alternative method is steam cleaning, which involves using hot steam at high pressure to break up and clean any dirt or debris from the seats. This method can be used on both fabric and vinyl surfaces, making it well-suited for boat seats that are composed of both materials. Ensure that you are wearing protective clothing when handling bleach solutions or working with steam cleaning equipment.

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Mold and Mildew Removers

Removing mold and mildew from your surfaces can be a challenge, but with the right products it’s no sweat! When dealing with vinyl boat seats, it is important to take steps to prevent the growth of mold and mildew in the first place. Make sure that all surfaces are kept clean and dry on a regular basis, as moisture is one of the main causes of mildew build-up. Investing in waterproof covers for your boat seats can also help to protect them from rain and other sources of moisture.

When cleaning vinyl boat seats, you should use an effective mold and mildew remover specifically designed for marine use. Such products contain ingredients such as bleach or peroxide which can penetrate deep into the material and kill any existing spores. Be sure to read the product instructions carefully before using, as these products are often highly concentrated so always dilute according to directions. After applying a remover, allow it to sit for several minutes before wiping away any residue with a damp cloth or sponge. Finally rinse off with fresh water afterwards to ensure that all remaining chemicals have been removed from the surface of your boat seat fabric.


Before beginning the process of cleaning your vinyl boat seats of mildew, it is important to prepare the area and wear protective gear. Start by clearing away any debris from the immediate area, ensuring that you have a clean workspace for your project. Make sure you are wearing protective clothing such as gloves and eyewear to prevent contact with any potentially dangerous chemicals or spores.

Prepare the Area

Make sure you’re ready to tackle this project – it’ll take some time and effort, but the results will be worth it! Before beginning to clean your vinyl boat seats of mildew, prepare the area by removing any debris or trash that may have accumulated on or around them. This could include anything from leaves and sticks to plastic bags and bottles. Dispose of any waste materials properly in a trash bag or bin. Additionally, sweep off the decking areas around your boat seats for a more thorough cleaning. Make sure you clear away any dirt or mud so the surface is clear before using cleaning products.

Wear Protective Gear

With protective gear on, you’re ready to tackle this project and get your area looking its best! When cleaning vinyl boat seats of mildew, it is important that you wear protective gear to keep yourself safe from the harsh chemicals and toxins. The most common type of protective gear worn is a pair of thick, waterproof gloves made out of materials such as rubber or neoprene. These gloves will protect your hands from any chemical spills and help you grip surfaces better while scrubbing. You may also want to consider wearing long sleeves and pants for extra protection since some products used can cause skin irritation. Additionally, make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes that won’t restrict your movement while working on the boat seat.

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Cleaning Method

To freshen up your seat, start by scrubbing away any unwanted grime with a damp cloth. If the mildew staining is particularly stubborn, use a soft-bristled brush to remove as much of it as possible. For heavily soiled areas, steam cleaning or pressure washing may be necessary to completely remove the mildew and restore your vinyl boat seat’s original shine.

When using either method, it is important to avoid excessively high temperatures or high levels of water pressure in order to prevent any damage. Be sure to test an inconspicuous area first before applying either method to the entire surface of the seat. Always follow manufacturer instructions when using steam cleaning products or detergents and ensure that all debris is removed from the bristles on your brush after each use in order to avoid scratching the vinyl material.

Using a combination of these methods will help you successfully rid your vinyl boat seats of mildew while keeping them looking their best for years to come. With proper care and maintenance, you can enjoy your furniture for many seasons ahead!


Now that you understand the best ways to clean vinyl boat seats of mildew, it’s important for you to practice diligent maintenance and cleaning in order to prevent mold and mildew from returning. Proper maintenance will help keep your boat seats looking like new for years to come.

First and foremost, always allow your vinyl boat seats to dry completely before storing them away or covering them up. This is especially important during humid months when dampness can cause mildew buildup. To ensure they are completely dry, wait at least 24 hours after cleaning before putting on any covers or stowing them away. Additionally, check the weather forecast prior to washing your vinyl boat seats as drying time can be extended by rain or snowfall.

In addition to regular drying time after cleaning, seasonal care of your vinyl boat seats is also essential for maintaining their look and feel over time. During warm weather months, use a clear UV protectant spray every two weeks or so in order minimize sun damage and discoloration caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight. In cooler seasons, make sure all water has been thoroughly removed from the surface of the seat before storing away for the winter season as any remaining moisture could lead to premature aging of the fabric material itself.

By taking these simple steps regularly throughout each year, you can keep your vinyl boat seats looking good as new with minimal effort required on your part!

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean my vinyl boat seats?

It’s important to clean your vinyl boat seats at regular intervals in order to keep them looking and functioning their best. Sun exposure can degrade the material over time, so it’s recommended that you clean your seats every few months. This will help remove any built-up dirt or mildew, as well as avoid any permanent damage from the sun. Regular cleaning also means that you can catch any problems early on and get them fixed before they become more serious.

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Does cleaning my vinyl boat seats require special tools?

Cleaning your vinyl boat seats does not require any special tools, however, you may want to invest in a mildew proofing product or use bleach if necessary. A gentle cleaning solution and a soft-bristled brush will usually be enough to remove dirt and grime and get your boat seats looking like new again. For more stubborn stains, spot treat as needed with a mildew-proofing product or a solution of bleach and water. After you’ve finished cleaning the seat, rinse it off thoroughly with clean water before allowing it to dry completely.

What is the best way to store my boat seats when not in use?

When not in use, it is important to take proper care of your boat seats by storing them correctly. To protect the material from sun damage and mildew, be sure to keep them in a dry area that is covered and shaded from direct sunlight. If possible, store them indoors or in a garage during inclement weather conditions. Additionally, consider using covers for extra protection and always ensure they are completely dry before covering them up. Taking these steps will help extend the lifetime of your vinyl boat seats while also keeping them looking great!

How can I prevent mildew from forming on my boat seats?

You can take preventative steps to help keep mildew from forming on your boat seats. One of the best ways to do this is by making sure they get enough sun exposure. If possible, try to leave them in direct sunlight for at least an hour a day. This will help dry out any moisture that may have accumulated and reduce the chances of mildew developing. Additionally, if you are storing your boat seats when not in use, make sure it’s somewhere dry and well ventilated so moisture doesn’t build up over time.

Are there any home remedies I can use to clean mildew off my boat seats?

If you have mildew growing on your boat seats, there are some home remedies you can use to clean it off. Avoiding moisture is key to preventing future growth, but if you already have the problem, cleaners like vinegar or baking soda can help. Make a paste with equal parts of each and apply it directly to the affected area of your seat. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping away with a damp cloth. Re-apply as necessary until all traces of mildew are gone.


You’ve done it! You now have clean and mildew-free vinyl boat seats. To keep them looking nice, you should rinse your seat covers with fresh water after each use and apply a protectant such as 303 Aerospace Protectant regularly. This will help to keep the fabric from fading, cracking or becoming stiff from UV damage. Regularly wiping down surfaces with a damp cloth can also help to remove dirt and grime build-up, keeping your vinyl boat seats looking like new for years to come. With the right know-how, cleaning your vinyl boat seats of mildew doesn’t have to be a difficult task — just follow these steps every few months and you’ll be ready for all kinds of boating adventures!

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