How to Clean an Aluminum Boat Conveniently and Effectively

Last Updated: 19.06.19


Why do you have to clean an aluminum boat?

Aluminum is a reliable and durable material with the extra advantage of being very light. This material made high-quality boats affordable and increased their life considerably.

However, it must be properly maintained and regularly cleaned to prevent problems such as corrosion or hard water deposits from forming. These problems are known to reduce performance by increasing drag and, if it’s not treated, rust can render the boat useless.

The aluminum boats require a specialized cleaning process because the material tends to develop an oxidized coating in time. It reacts when exposed to the air, making it less shiny and vulnerable.

To make the metal shine as bright as on the first day, the oxidation has to be dealt with periodically, even if the fishing canoe is stored in optimum conditions.

If you want to enjoy a day in the sun on your boat, make sure you are properly equipped and informed by reading our guides on cool fishing gloves and protective fishing sunglasses.

Spraying and scrubbing your aluminum boat

One of the most popular methods for cleaning an aluminum boat is known as spray and scrub. It is inexpensive and straightforward, requiring only a specialized cleaning agent, a clean, dry cloth and some steel wool. Given the multitude of substances for aluminum treatments available on the market, you will quickly find one to your liking.

The three steps to be followed do not require any previous experience or any training. The first step requires you to spray or apply a cleaning agent of your choice on the surfaces you want to clean. Give it a few minutes to form a coating over the hull; make sure that it is dry before applying the substance.

The next step involves a little bit of effort on your behalf. With clean steel wool, carefully scrub the area you are cleaning. Do not apply too much force to prevent scratching the surface. Read the instructions on your cleaning agent, as some do not require scrubbing while others need you to wait for a few minutes before washing.

For the last step, you only have to wipe the cleaned area with a cloth to see if the treatment has been effective and to improve the natural shine of your hull. Keep in mind that this method has to be applied periodically to maintain the boat in perfect condition. Equally important, you have to read the instructions on the agent you have bought.


Spraying and rinsing the boat

Another known method for aluminum hull maintenance and cleaning, this one requires less effort to be carried out but can be a little bit more expensive as it needs large amounts of fresh water.

This method mostly follows the same three steps described above (applying the agent, scrubbing and wiping), only that now you must let the cleaning agent coating rest for a few minutes on the surface.

The foam which appears is an indicator that the product is working. After about 10 minutes, wash the boat with a power washer, rinsing off the entire area. Wipe it with a dry cloth to help it dry faster. It is not recommended to use this method in your backyard as it could be harmful to the grass or flowers near the boat.


Cleaning the internal compartments

Removing hard water deposits from the hull and making it shine again is very important for reducing friction with the water, increasing performance, and also for preserving aluminum’s physical properties. Another aspect you must consider is that sterile conditions in a boat are essential for your health and for the vessel itself.

The inside of your boat can be sanitized with fresh water and an ordinary cleaning product which is compatible with aluminum.

During the process, make sure not to forget the corners or less accessible places, where organic matter, water or chemical substances might accumulate, leading to foul smell and corrosion if the exposure is prolonged.

Consoles, plastic pieces, and electronics are not to be cleaned with solvents. The latter is to be taken care of just like any other household appliances. Make sure that they are kept dry unless specified as being waterproof.

Fuel splashes and stains can be dealt with general-purpose agents, as long as they do not harm aluminum surfaces. If unsure, test on a sample with the same properties as the material used on your vessel.

Other tips for maintaining and cleaning aluminum boats

Something you should consider before you get to work is that to have maximum success, the aluminum has to be debris-free. Even though it looks smooth and clean, grease or dust might be covering small portions; these have to be removed before applying a cleaning solution.

Eliminating the debris with soap and water will lead to clearer, shinier surfaces once the whole process has been completed. Furthermore, things will be made easier by grease, for example.

Waxing and polishing are excellent for maintaining the gloss of the surfaces, protecting against fouling and increasing the time needed for hard water deposits to form. For better results, use only specialized substances; car wax is not made for aluminum hulls.

After the season has concluded, the boat requires extra care and attention to detail, to have a successful summer next year.

The lines and ropes are to be washed thoroughly with fresh water; equipment prone to rusting has to be stored indoors in a dry environment, and all electronics should be removed if the vessel is stored in humid conditions. Leave the drainage holes open and cover the boat while allowing some air to pass inside for ventilation purposes.

After you’ve checked all these steps, make sure you find the right braided line to increase your chances of being successful.


A final word

Knowing and following the methods and steps mentioned above is very important for a boat owner if they want the vessel to last as long for as possible and obtain great performance in the water. Just like with a car, periodic cleaning and maintenance are required.

Choosing a cleaning agent that works is essential for these operations to be successful. Buying the cheapest option might not save you any money, as the investment for repairing the problems it causes might be greater than that required for professional substances.

Last but not least, if you cannot store the vessel in a garage or dry hall, cover it. Remove electrical equipment and carpets, as these have to be stored in dry spaces.



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