Boat Deck Cleaning – Everything You Need to Know

Summer is here, and it’s time to clean your boat! Cleaning your boat’s deck can sound like a complicated task. It isn’t! You can actually do it yourself.

So, you may wonder, can you scrub your non-skid flooring? What type of cleaners can you use? There are some cleaners that can damage your boat deck!

Letting the dirt build up on your deck will not only be harder to clean, but it’ll also make the deck’s surface more slippery. Thus, it’ll lead to unwanted accidents on the boat. 

No worries! In today’s article, we’ll guide you through boat deck cleaning. So, you can enjoy the sunny weather and sail across the sea on a squeaky clean deck. Stick around!

How to Clean Your Boat Deck

Cleaning the deck is a simple task that you can do yourself. Simply follow these steps:

Step 1: Remove All Dirt

The first step in cleaning your boat deck is to remove any bulky, loose dirt. Otherwise, the cleaning process may get messy.

To get rid of the dust easily, you can use a mop or a piece of cloth. However, deeper dirt and debris will require deeper cleaning.

Using a wet/dry vacuum cleaner like Armor All AA255 can make this process much easier. It should completely remove the built-up dirt on your deck.

Most vacuums come with different nozzle options. So, you want to use a smaller vacuum nozzle to clean hard-to-reach areas. You can also use the vacuum for cleaning the rest of your boat or even your car.

Step 2: Clean With Fresh Water

Before using any special cleaners, you should pour clean water on your deck. It’ll help loosen any remaining dirt stuck to your deck. A wet deck is also easier to clean. 

Step 3: Use Cleaner Fluid

Mix a suitable boat cleaner with fresh warm water in a bucket. Warm water, along with the cleaner, will help loosen the dirt and debris.

Choosing a suitable cleaner is essential to maintaining your non-skid deck. A good option would be something specific for deck cleaning, such as the STAR BRITE Non-Skid Deck Cleaner & Protectant

Star Brite Cleaner contains chelating agents that’ll loosen up the dirt without the need for heavy scrubbing. Additionally, it contains protective polymers that provide a barrier, making the deck less vulnerable to stains and dirt.

It’s worth mentioning that using bleach or household cleaners isn’t always the best option. Bleach can cause the colors on your deck to fade, making it less aesthetically pleasing.

More importantly, bleach or household cleaners can ruin the protective coating on your deck, which will make your deck more slippery and prone to damage.

Another good option would be a mixture of water and vinegar. It’s perfect for any surface on your boat, not just the boat deck.

Step 4: Scrub the Deck

Soak a soft bristle brush or a mop in the boat deck cleaner. Then, start scrubbing the surface of your deck. A soft-bristled brush is the best option as it isn’t corrosive. It doesn’t scratch or scuff the surface of your boat. You can also get similar results using a mop.

Some tougher stains may require some extra work. However, it’s not the best idea to use hard-bristle brushes, as they may damage the surface of your deck.

Additionally, scrubbing too hard can damage the deck. If there’s a tough stain, pour some cleaner on it, then scrub it thoroughly with a soft-bristled brush.

Step 5: Rinse-Off

Using fresh water, rinse off the remaining cleaner and the dirty water. You can repeat the process until the deck is clean.

If it’s possible, try collecting the dirty water and remaining cleaner in a bucket to dispose of it in an eco-friendly way.

Step 6: Dry the Boat

Using an old cleaning rag or a towel, remove excess cleaner and dirt. After that, the deck should be spotless!

Pressure Washing Your Boat Deck

Pressure washing can expedite the boat deck cleaning process. Still, you may need to remove loose dirt first. You may also need to scrub some areas that the pressure washer can’t reach.

Don’t forget to set the pressure washer at the lowest setting possible. High pressure may damage your boat deck. 

You’ll also need to close any doors and cover any seats. It’s hard to control the water coming out of the nozzle, as you don’t want to end up with wet upholstery.

What’s more, it’s best if you don’t hold the nozzle too close to the surface of the deck when cleaning it. Instead, hold the nozzle at least 10 inches away from the surface.

You should also avoid using a zero-degree nozzle because it can damage your deck surface. So, it’s best if you use a wide, angled nozzle with medium pressure.

Most vacuum cleaners come with different nozzle options. For your boat deck cleaning, you can use a nozzle with a scrubbing brush end. It’ll make the cleaning process much quicker and more efficient.

Hiring a Professional to Clean Your Boat Deck

If the process seems like a hassle to you, you can hire a professional cleaning service to do it for you! Here are some great boat cleaning services to consider:

You can also check forums and websites like BoatEasy to find a local cleaning service near you. Another good option would be to check your local marina. You’ll almost certainly find a professional cleaner.

How Often Should You Clean Your Boat Deck?

Cleaning your boat deck once a month is a good idea. If you clean the boat deck less often, more dust and dirt will build up, making the cleaning process more complicated.

Sweeping and rinsing the deck daily will also keep dust at bay. You can use a diluted vinegar solution in everyday cleaning to disinfect the surface.

How to Keep Your Boat Deck Clean?

Regular cleaning is the obvious answer. Daily sweeping or mopping is the best way to keep your boat deck clean.

If you happen to spill food or drinks on the floor, it’s best if you clean the mess right away. Keep a soft cleaning towel and a cleaner available on your boat for accidents like that.

If you don’t have a suitable cleaner available, don’t use normal household cleaners or bleach. Instead, you can use a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water.

You can also use a wet/dry vacuum to get rid of any stains immediately. Yet, if it’s not too messy, a simple mop can do the job just as well. Tough stains may require using a cleaner or vinegar mixture.

Before storing your boat away for the winter, cover it with shrink wrap or canvas. This will protect your boat from moisture, dust, and rain. It’ll also keep animals and birds away.


There’s nothing better than sailing in a freshly clean boat! Cleaning your boat’s deck may seem like a boring, complicated task. However, it’s a lot easier when you follow the steps we listed above.

The best way to make the cleaning process easier is to keep the deck clean. Regular cleaning is the best way to do that. It’s also essential for the longevity of your boat’s deck.

There are a lot of options when it comes to boat deck cleaning solutions. The best choices are the ones made specifically for the boat’s deck. Keep the bleach and normal household cleaners away, just this time!

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