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How to Clean Plastic Windows on a Boat ?

Posted by Boat Lover's Towel on

boat vinyl window cleaner

When you’re out on the river in your boat, you want to be able to look through crystal-clear windows and see the sparkling water and beautiful natural scenery. But if you have plastic windows, they’ll eventually become cloudy and lose their luster, obscuring your view of the boundless waters and landscape.

Most boat windows are made of one of two types of plastic: acrylic and vinyl. Acrylic windows need to be cleaned with gentle products to avoid wearing them down. Vinyl windows tend to become cloudy as they’re exposed to the sun, which causes the plasticizers on their surface to evaporate. Regular cleaning helps to reduce the damage associated with this evaporation.

Plastic doesn’t behave like glass, and it can be easily scratched and damaged if you use the wrong products or cleaning technique. When it’s time to clean your windows, follow these steps on how to clean vinyl or acrylic windows on a boat.

How to Clean Boat Windows Without Scratches?

Boat window cleaning is a relatively simple process that requires only a few supplies. You’ll need two buckets (one for soapy water and one with clean water for rinsing), soft, absorbent cloths, and a boat vinyl window cleaner.

Step-1: Use the Right Cleaning Solution

Harsh cleaners like ammonia, alcohol, and bleach should never be used to clean plastic boat windows. They react with the plastic and cause it to break down, resulting in irreversible damage. 

You can use a mild, non-detergent soap, which is a soap that does not contain any synthetic compounds that will react with the plastic. To err on the side of caution, opt for a specially formulated boat vinyl window cleaner. Marine cleaners for plastic windows work for both vinyl and acrylic windows, and they also contain UV protectants to prevent yellowing from UV damage.

Step-2: Pre-Clean the Windows

To start the cleaning process, rinse your windows down to get rid of dirt and debris. If you skip this and start wiping your window while there’s still dirt on it, you could end up seriously scratching the plastic. So rinse your windows a few times to soften or remove as much dirt as you can to reduce the amount of scrubbing needed later.

Step-3: Clean the Windows With the Proper Tools

When you’re done rinsing the windows, grab a soft cloth and fill a bucket with your boat window cleaning solution. Dip the cloth into the solution, wring it out, and wipe the first window in left-to-right motions. Don’t re-wipe an area you’ve already cleaned to avoid tracking dirt back across the window and scratching it. 

Rinse out your cloth and repeat until the window is clean. Then, get a new, clean cloth, dip it into a bucket of clean, warm water, and wipe the window to remove any remaining soap residue.

Repeat this process for all of your boat windows. For top-notch boat windshield cleaning, replace your used cleaning solution with fresh water and boat window cleaner often so you don’t track dirt from window to window.

Step-4: Remove Any Remaining Water Marks or Streaks

If there are water marks or streaks on your windows after cleaning them, you can remove them with a mixture of 90% water and 10% vinegar.

Use a clean cloth to apply this mixture and gently wipe away the water marks.


1) How often should I clean plastic boat windows?

To reduce the amount of rinsing and wiping you have to do next time you clean your windows, clean them with mild soap and a soft cloth once a week.

To protect your windows from wear, apply a special boat window cleaner, like the ones mentioned above, every four to six weeks. Boat window cleaners with protectants keep your windows clean longer while also safeguarding them from UV damage.

2) How do I remove scratches from plastic boat windows?

If you haven’t cleaned your boat windows in a long time and you notice yellow markings and many tiny scratches, the windows need to be polished. You’ll need an electric polisher, polishing pads, a very fine polishing compound, and a soft cloth.

First, you should remove the windows and lay them on a flat surface. Then, use a clean cloth to apply the polishing compound to the window. Because plastic windows scratch easily, you’ll need to use a very fine-grit polishing compound.

Use your polisher to apply light pressure at a low speed. If your polisher is set too high, you risk melting the plastic.

Make sure to always keep the pad moving. Once you’re done, just pop your windows back in and they should look much better.

3) How do I clean glass boat windows?

Since glass behaves very differently than plastic, you’ll want to use a boat glass cleaner to clean glass surfaces on your boat. But similar to the plastic boat window cleaning process, you should use two cloths to clean glass. Spray the glass cleaner and wipe away dirt and grime with the first cloth. Then buff away streaks with the second cloth.

Make Your Boat Windows Sparkle With CleanTools

Whether your boat has acrylic, vinyl, or glass windows, a specialized cleaning solution and a soft cloth are really all you need to bring the luster back to your boat windows. Once you’ve rinsed off as much dirt as possible, a soft cloth will help you apply the cleaner, remove grime, and protect your windows, all without scratching them. When you choose The Boat Lover’s Towel , you’ll be back on the water enjoying those beautiful views before you know it.

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