Charlie's Corner

March 18, 2021

How to Clean a Boat with Charlie’s Soap

how to clean a boat

How to Clean a Boat with Charlie’s Soap

Whether you have a boat that’s been in the family for generations, or you’re about to take a new one for its first trip around the lake, you know how much fun a boat can be. But boats can also be a lot of maintenance. From maintaining the engine and rudders to keeping the hull shiny and repairing scuffs or trailer marks, there’s a lot to do. While we can’t help you with all of that, we can teach you how to clean a boat from top to bottom.

Keep your boat “showroom floor” shiny

Washing your boat is incredibly satisfying—when you’re done, it looks as shiny and gorgeous as the day you brought it home. But getting that mildew smell out of the carpet, spraying the slime off the hull, and shining the windows and upholstery takes time.

However, this is all necessary to protect the outer hull and gel-coated surfaces from water and invasive species damage, oxidation, and UV rays. Even canvas and vinyl stay beautiful for longer when you regularly remove traces of dirt and mildew that accumulate with every trip out onto the water.

Boat lovers recommend a good rinse and inspection after every day on the water, with more thorough soapings on a monthly basis. You can also give your craft a fresh wax every spring. If you’re taking your boat from one body of water to another, you’ll also need to do an extra thorough cleaning to make sure you don’t transplant any invasive weeds or critters.

Don’t give invasive species a free ride

You can prevent the spread of invasive pests in rivers, lakes, and streams by taking extra care when you clean your vessel.

Any time you take your boat out of the water, make sure there aren’t any invasive species stowing away on the hull, prop, bilges, or wells where you store live bait or catch. Don’t forget to check your trailers, too. Weeds like eurasian water millfoil and creatures like zebra mussels are notorious for catching a ride on recreational boats to new bodies of water, where they quickly reproduce and overtake the native ecosystem.

The only way to stop the spread of these water pests is to remove any trace of them from your hull, pumps, and wells before you leave the water. Once you’re done riding the waves for the day, pull your boat out of the water. Once on the trailer, scrub the hull, pumps, and wells with a bucket of hot water (120-140℉) to kill any unseen stragglers. Then, let your boat dry for at least five days before launching into another river, stream, or lake.

Clean green

Another way to protect the ecosystems you frequent on your boat is to clean your boat with environmentally friendly cleaning products. Some boaters use dish soap or harsh all-purpose detergents to clean their craft, but these can be toxic for aquatic plants and animals. Also, many typical household soaps also contain ammonia and phosphates, which make algae bloom and reduce the oxygen available for healthy fish and plants.

The Boat U.S. Foundation says that, when it comes to toxic products in the waterway, ones that biodegrade quickly cause less harm to the ecosystem. Experts recommend biodegradable, phosphate-free, and non-toxic cleaning products for your boat.

How to clean a boat with Charlie’s Soap

Here’s a quick checklist on how to clean a boat: 

  1. Rinse off all the dirt and debris so it doesn’t scratch the surfaces while you scrub.
  2. Use a biodegradable soap that contains no inorganic phosphates, like Charlie’s Kitchen and Bath Household Cleaner. Simply spray it on your boat, or dilute in a bucket of hot water. Wipe off with a soft, clean cloth. Charlie’s naturally derived ingredients are rated safe for lakes and streams, so you don’t have to worry about runoff.
  3. For stubborn spots and the outer hull, try Charlie’s Indoor & Outdoor Cleaner. Its concentrated formula gently loosens tough engine grease, gunk, and water spots without abrasives, bleach, or toxic chemicals. Let it sit for 30 minutes or even until it dries, then scrub with a microfiber or boat-safe cloth. Wipe dry.
  4. Clean the decks, canvas, upholstery, and glass. Don’t forget to clean out your bilges and live wells. Charlie’s products are great for live storage areas because they’re non-toxic and rinse away clean.
  5. If you’re headed to another body of water, make sure to inspect and remove any obvious parasites. Then, use a hot water scrub and do a five-day dry to eliminate any invasive species stowed away on your craft.
  6. Get back out on the water, rinse, and repeat.

For boat detailing, use Charlie’s Soap Indoor & Outdoor.  Mix 1:320 with water for exteriors and interior surfaces.  Full strength for tires, rims, undercarriage.  1:64 ratio for carpets and extract with water.  Charlie’s Soap is storm drain and marina safe!

Love your boat — and the water — with Charlie’s Soap

Keeping your boat sparkling clean also means cleaning responsibly. Our Kitchen and Bath Cleaner is Safer Choice-certified by the EPA, and all Charlie’s Soap products are biodegradable, non-abrasive, and don’t contain any bleach, dyes, fragrance or toxic surfactants. Take care of your beautiful boat and the great outdoors where you love to play, with a little help from us!