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How to Detail a Boat Like a Pro? Detailing Steps for a Spotless Boat

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

How to Detail a Boat Like a Pro

Cleaning a whole boat requires dedication, time, and focus as you have to take care of a heap of things. Getting your boat dirty is inevitable due to the mud on the shore, dust from the road, grime caused by regular use, and so on.

It’s still important that you have a list of things to do even though you’re knowledgeable enough when it comes to cleaning and detailing a boat. You should collect all the necessary supplies, so cleaning and detailing can be done efficiently.

This article will show you how to detail a boat like a pro without overlooking a single, significant step.

List of Boat Detailing Supplies

Detailing projects are not the same all the time. It depends on the level of filth and how thorough you want to clean your boat. Here are the basic detailing supplies that you shouldn’t miss buying.

You may need two of these, because the second one is for getting rid of dirt before you dip it again into the soap.

  • A water hose with a nozzle
  • Microfiber towels and chamois cloths
  • Sponges and mops
  • Brushes and applicators
  • Tools for waxing and polishing
  • Cleaners and degreasers
  • Polishes and waxes
  • Gel coat protectors
  • Stain removers
  • Power washers or water spot removers

Detailing Procedures that Your Boat Needs


Frequent Washing

Saltwater causes corrosion on water vessels. Moreover, it doesn’t take much time to peel off metal bits from the hull, so you’ll just be surprised to see the damage. Hence, it’s advisable to wash your boat every two weeks.

Avoid using cleaners filled with harsh chemicals. They can strip the wax that you’ve applied to protect your boat. You may also need to deal with other kinds of problems.

To prevent harming your boat, use gentle cleaners yet effective from Boat Juice, Star Brite, and 3M.

Waxing On… Waxing Off…

Most boaters yearn for a sunny day or good weather to ensure enjoyment when sailing. However, it does some things on your boat to your distaste. For example, the harshness of UV rays can ruin the boat’s paintwork.

If the effects of UV rays are left untreated for a long period, the material underneath the paint can also be harmed. The detailing solution for this inescapable issue is the regular waxing of the boat. Do it every 3 to 6 months.

Speaking about waxing, you can purchase these with effective formulas from 3M and 303. However, you should be careful when buying waxing products.

Change your habit if you only do waxing when your boat looks dull and chalky. You’ll end up facing the demands of necessary repairs. For example, you need to polish your boat, go through a full cut, and commence with the waxing process.

Examining for Rust

The steel parts of the boat can be protected from rusting and corrosion by regular wash-downs. There’s no room for assumption; so, take time to check if rust has started forming on the surface.

Once you’ve found out the existence of rust, don’t delay even with a single moment. Hand polish it right away until it’s gone. A great polish doesn’t have to be for marine use. Some are formulated for cars just like Shine Armor.

You can also check out 3M, Star Brite, and Shurhold.

Mind the Upholstered Surfaces

Upholstery on boats is created for outdoor and heavy-duty use. But still, it’s vulnerable to sun, salt, and other elements. You have to watch out for molds and mildew on this item.

Unload the upholstery from your boat and let it sit under the sun. This process will eradicate molds and mildew. You can also clean it with Star Brite Mildew Stain Remover and MaryKate Mildew Remover.

After cleaning and scrubbing the upholstery from mold infestation, you have to let it dry. An excellent boat cover can prevent mold and mildew development.

Heavy-duty covers such as MSC Polyester Canvas, Classic Accessories Center Console Cover, and iCOVER Trailerable Cover can fend off molds and mildew.

Getting Some Air

Mold formation is a different story from protecting your boat from rain. Humidity can create molds; thus, ventilation cover or regular airing must be done. Doing it once a week is not that stressful.

Clean Boat Cover

Don’t neglect your boat cover as it’s your boat’s protector when in storage. Keep it clean, so it can continue to serve for your comfort and convenience. Wash it and let it dry in order to maintain it in a good condition.

You can also rinse it after use to get rid of dirt and salt crystals. Failing to do so will cause scratches. It’s good if you use salt spray as well.

Maintaining the Teak in Good Shape

Teak is fungal-resistant so there’s no need for oiling or sealing. Anyway, adding oil will only give you a slippery deck. Still, you have to maintain the cleanliness of the teak to make use of its excellent condition for a longer period.

Never use a pressure washer and even a brush with hard bristles. These objects can strip soft fibers of the wood. Then, uneven sections will appear bad and need fixing. Wash it with saltwater rather than freshwater every after use.

There are good teak cleaning solutions in the market like Star Brite One-step Teak Cleaner, Bayes High Performance Teak Cleaner, and AquaTech Teak Cleaner. You can pair it up with a sealer or preserver.

You’ll find kits that include teak cleaner and teak sealer. It’s handy when you’re working on the teak parts of your boat.

Step-by-Step Instructions


Detailing a boat is a way to have a clean boat inside and out because this process gets rid of mud, debris, grime, and dirt that clings on the hull. As mentioned above, some supplies would make the process easier for you.

With the following steps, you’ll obtain a spotless boat.

Step 1: Rinsing comes first

Get your hands on the power washer or a good nozzle as rinsing the boat comes first in detailing. It’s important to blast away grime or build-ups before scrubbing. You have to begin with this step because it’s a preparation for thorough cleaning of your boat.

Step 2: Soap and scrub

After rinsing, soap down the boat’s hull, then scrub it. You may use STAR BRITE Cleaner and 303 Multi-surface cleaner that have a safe formula for your boat. It will allow you to focus on build-ups and accumulated dirt.

Also, get a good brush to ensure that you’ll do detailing correctly. While you have a reliable cleaner, nothing can beat a proper scrubbing as well. Doing this step will give your boat an immaculate appearance!

Water, cleaner, and scrub will clear out the impurities of your boat’s exterior.

Step 3: Wiping part

After coating your boat with soap suds and scrubbing, you have to wipe it down. This is the part when you buffer the hull. Moreover, elbow grease is the key to completing this process. Once you finish wiping and buffing your boat, proceed to the next step.

Step 4: Polishing and waxing

Marine polish and wax are the means to make your boat shine. It’s a step that you have to take if you want your boat to appear brand new. The right way of applying the wax is to create an even, nice layer.

Step 5: Getting into the interior

In detailing, you don’t only take care of the boat’s exterior part. You also have to spend time in its interior. Water vessels are always exposed to water most of the time. Thus, there’s a high risk of mold and mildew growth.

The interior will void mold, mildew, and grime if you use an effective mildew stain remover. When you’ve eliminated the unwanted particles, you can vacuum the interior.

Polishing and waxing are not exclusive to the exterior part. You can make the interior shine. What you need for this procedure will depend on the things inside your boat. Upholstered brushes or other tools will be necessary.

Step 6: Double-checking

After you’ve done all the necessary procedures, take some time to double-check your boat. It’s to ensure that you haven’t missed anything. Some parts may look clean, but not in the real sense.

When you’re sure that your boat is clean, you can put on the boat cover. It’s a course of action to protect your boat from harmful elements.

Take Away

Every boat owner should know how to detail a boat like a pro. It won’t only save you money, but it gives you confidence that your boat is well taken care of. No one could ever be as caring as you when it comes to your boat’s longevity and good condition.

A dirty boat won’t make your water adventures fun since there will be an issue of discomfort and deterioration. That is why tidiness has significant too to operating your boat properly.

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