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The Ultimate Guide to Boat Detailing

Posted by Boat Lover's Towel on

Boat detailing guide

Owning a boat is easy. Maintaining a boat is not. However, boat ownership is worth it.

If you’ve been a bit lax when it comes to cleaning and maintenance, we’re here to help. Our vessel connoisseurs have put together a boat detailing checklist. This guide to vessel cleaning inside and out was crafted to help novice and experienced boat owners. Check out our list and see if there’s something you haven’t done in a while.

Is Boat Detailing Really Necessary? 

There’s more to boat detailing than aesthetics. While regular cleaning helps your boat look good inside and out, it also ensures functionality and longevity. When out on the water, your boat is exposed to conditions that can cause significant damage. To help boat owners maintain their crafts long-term, we’ve gathered the ultimate boat detailing checklist. 

Below, we’ll discuss everything boat owners need to know about boat washing and detailing. 

Products to Detail Your Boat

When it comes to boat cleaning and detailing, the right tools tend to make all the difference. Listed below are products every craft owner needs to have for an excellent boat inside and out. 

Essential Tools for Boat Detailing

Spot Remover

Improve the appearance of your boat and get rid of stains and streaks with a hard water spot remover. 

Marine Cleaning Agent

Never apply household cleaners to your boat. Using high-quality cleaning solutions specifically formulated for marine vessels will protect your boat from damage.


Keep the interior carpet clean and free of dust mites with a lightweight vacuum cleaner. An attachable nozzle will extract dirt from tight spaces. 


A degreaser will effectively and efficiently eliminate grime and grease build-up in your engine bay.

Soft & Hard Brushes

You’ll need a variety of brushes with long and short handles to services the multiple areas throughout your vessel. 

PVA Towel

Made from non-abrasive material called Poly Vinyl Alcohol,  The Absorber® is an ideal drying solution for a variety of surfaces including boats, cars, and windows. Cleanse any surface without impacting the finish. 

Water Hose w/ Nozzle

A spray nozzle will help you efficiently eliminate dirt and other contaminants from hard-to-reach areas.


Apply boat wax on the hull of your craft in a circular motion. This gives your boat a beautiful shine and prevents gel coat finishes from oxidation.

Top 3 Tips for Boat Detailing

1. Remove Salt Water Residue

Flush your boat engine and exterior after sailing in saltwater. Residual salt can cause components to rust and erode. 

2. Cover Your Boat

When storing your craft outdoors, long-term, or in winter months, cover with a waterproof-, tear-, and puncture-proof material to protect from animals, weather damage, and dirty contaminants. 

3. Use Environmentally-Friendly Soap

Clean the hull of your boat with a long-handle brush and biodegradable soap that removes oil and algae. 

How Often Should You Detail Your Craft?

Whether you’re personally detailing your craft, or paying for a professional service, the following factors impact the frequency and cost of boat maintenance:

  • Craft type
  • Craft size
  • Elements
  • Location

Maintain your vessel with a boat detailing checklist organized by frequency of tasks. 


  • Wash exterior (rinse, wash, rinse method)
  • Empty waste tank
  • Check bilge pump function
  • Confirm fluid levels
  • Coolant 
  • Engine oil
  • Transmission oil


  • Wax Gelcoat 
  • Replace boat zincs
  • Scrub bottom of the hull


  • Change fluids
  • Top to bottom inspection
  • Clean water tank storage
  • Wash and waterproof canvas
  • US Coast Guard safety check 

2 to 3 Years 

  • Repaint hull
  • Inspect water seals
  • Balance propeller shafts
  • Additional maintenance


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