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Cleaning Up After the Massacre

Boat Cleaning Tips

boat cleaningWhile everyone loves to get the boat bloody while offshore fishing, no one that I’ve ever met enjoys getting the boat un-bloody after a successful day on the water. The good news is that by choosing the right tools and cleaning products you can cut down on the amount of elbow grease required to get you boat looking good at the end of the day.

The more work you put into cleaning the boat during the day, the less you’ll have to do when it’s back on the trailer.

Whenever I’m fishing offshore, I’ll carry a soft bristle deck brush, a hard bristle hand brush and a wash glove. They sell all of these at West Marine, but you can pick them up cheaper at your local hardware store.

cleaning boats

For fresh blood on the boat, just squirt it off with your wash down hose or splash it off with water from a bucket. If it’s already started to dry, you can hit it with the soft bristle brush or the glove. Dried on spots are probably going to need to be hit with the hard bristle brush. I don’t bother with soap on the water as it doesn’t get very sudsy when mixed with salt water.

Once I’m home, the first thing I’ll do is blast the entire boat off with my pressure washer. There are a lot of options on the market, but I recommend keeping it pretty simple. You can find a basic model with an adjustable nozzle for around $100.

boat maintenance

When pressure washing the boat, you’re going to want to adjust the nozzle to maximize the cleaning power. For washing off salt residue and general dirt, I’ll use a wide spray. When cleaning dried blood or getting dirt out of the non-skid, I’ll adjust it down to a needle stream. Be careful when using the narrower streams as the water pressure will cut through upholstery like a knife.  You also must be careful around caulk seams as the water pressure can blow the caulk out or loose.

While there’s nothing wrong with washing the boat with soap and bleach, I’ve found a few products that make life a little easier.

Starting out, I’ll fill a bucket with water and dish soap. I’ll use this and my wash glove for cleaning the console, hull, motor, seats, and any non-deck areas of the boat.

boat soap

Once that’s done, I’ll use the Starbrite non-skid deck cleaner. I’ll start by squirting it on the wet deck, scrubbing it around with the soft bristle deck brush and letting it sit for a few minutes. After that I’ll take my hard bristle brush and hit any heavily soiled areas or spots of dried blood. Once it’s sat for five minutes, I’ll give it another scrubbing with the soft bristle brush and rinse it off with the pressure washer.

If there are any stubborn stains, like rust or really dried blood, that won’t come off, I’ll hit them with FSR. This mild acid is simple to use and if you follow the directions it won’t have any negative effects on your gel coat. You basically, wipe it on, let it sit for a couple minutes and rinse it off.

Finally, I’ll apply a coat of Woody Wax to the deck every four or five trips. This wax will keep the blood from sticking to your boat and make the clean up even easier next time. Before applying, I’ll thoroughly rinse my soft bristle brush to get all of the Starbrite off it. I’ll also completely rinse the boat to remove any cleaning product residue. For a complete tutorial on applying Woody Wax, check out this article.

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Erik Landesfeind is BD's Southern California Editor and has over 30 years of experience saltwater fishing for a range of species in both California and Mexican waters. Erik is also an active freelance writer and the author of the weekly column So Cal Scene, which BD publishes every Friday. In So Cal Scene, Erik keeps all of the BD readers up to date on what's biting in Southern California. Erik divides his fishing time on local boats, long-range trips and Mexico excursions. For the past eight years, Erik has been competing in the SWBA (Saltwater Bass Anglers) tournament series and has multiple tournament victories to his credit. His sponsors include Batson Enterprises / Rainshadow Rods, Robalo Boats, Tilly's Marine, Abu/Garcia, Penn Reels, Navionics, Raymarine, MC Swimbaits, Uni-Butter Fishing Scent and Bladerunner Tackle.