Best Hull Cleaner
Whether you leave your boat in the water year round, throughout the summer or even using the trailer and using your boat a few times a week you need the best hull cleaner! There is no way around it unfortunately. The grim of the ocean, sea and lake will get your boat and it sucks. I have spent countless hours before the season and after cleaning by boat trying to find the best hull cleaner and what to use with it.
I believe I have found the right answers for the right boats. Remember most boats are fiberglass but if you have an aluminum boat or even a wood boat you will need different products so make sure that you have the right product for the right boat and I will tell you what will work best. Normally I get my friends to do it because they use the boat just as much as me and they don’t have to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the boat but after you realize they do a horrible job, you will have to take over and do it twice to make sure it gets done properly. A little time and TLC, you boat will be looking brand new!
FYI - the hull is the bottom of the boat that the water touches… just in case you may be a new boat owner or have no idea what on earth I am talking about.
What to look for in boat hull cleaner?
There are many kinds of boat cleaners so it is tough to know which one will work the best. You need to make sure you know what kind of boat you are cleaning, fiberglass, gel coat, wood, etc..
Zing Hull Cleaner - You Must mix with water and is great for a quick clean to get the algae and gunk off your boat but I would recommend a wax protectant after words. Read the label because you want to make sure you don’t use a product after that negates this product.
Starbrite Buffered Acid - If your boat goes in the water a couple times a week but doesn’t permanently stay in the water this will be good for your boat. Keeps the gunk off your boat for the time that you are in the water.
Muratic Acid - You will want to have this on your boat if you live near the ocean or your boat is in the water constantly or moored permanently in the water. If your boat is covered in moss, barnacles, and algae this is a must for your boat.
On/Off by Maritime Products Company - Use gloves because this product can burn the skin and only use it on parts of the boat that are not painted because it will cause streaks. On/Off is corrosive but very beneficial and will not destroy the gel coat as it neutralizes in the water.
Wax - Not only do you need to clean your boat I highly recommend using a type of wax post cleaning to prevent the algae and other marine life from attaching to your boat so quickly. This is easier said than done especially with how many different brands and types there are on the market. Not only that, it depends on how many coats you put on the boat. Sometimes one can be enough and sometimes it may take 4.
After you clean your boat with a desired product, you are going to want to let the boat dry completely. Sometimes it may even say to leave it for a full 12 or 24 hours so plan ahead and look at the weather forecast to plan accordingly. If you have a boat storage unit then it does not matter as much. Also there may be a designed temperature so if you have taken your boat out late in the year and it is getting cold quick you might have run into some issues, not to say it won’t work but maybe not as good as it could.
To start - easy steps to follow
I would recommend (if you can, bring your boat out of the water on its trailer or if you can, use blocks to raise it up so you don’t have streaks where your trailer meets to the boat) as a starting point but I will give all scenarios to help everyone out.
If you have a pressure washer even better but a hose will do the same with a good nozzle or even putting your finger over the edge to provide more pressure and hose the boat down really good. If there are barnacles on the boat you may have to scrap them off first.
1b. If you do not have access to get out of the water, use a little dingy and go around your boat just like you would on land. Or even use a life jacket and jump in. If you have access to scuba gear, another option. Everyone has different scenarios so choose accordingly.
Next off is make sure you have the right hull cleaner and is mixed appropriately with water if that is the kind you have.
Use a sponge or even rag/ towel that you can use specifically for your boat (don’t clean your boat and then wash it and use it for a regular towel again). From there use the cleaning solution on your boat in similar motion so it goes on evenly. Start at one spot where it is marked, like the motor and go around the boat so you know where you left off. You should know anyways because one area will be a lot cleaner than the other.
Once the hull is clean, go back to spraying it down. If the boat has been in the water for a long time you may need to repeat that whole process.
Once you have done either one or two coats you will want to take a clean rag and rub it down taking off any streaks or marks that you may have missed.
If you are using Muratic Acid your boat is a mess and do not use this product in the water or near a draining system. Do it over gravel so not to damage or wreck any surrounding areas.
After you have combined the Muratic acid with water spray it down and leave for no longer that 10 minutes. Wash the excess residue off or even use a soft scrubber for the harder materials that might not have come off. Then rinse the boat fully clean.
Wax on, Wax off
After your boat is shiny and looking brand new, you want to keep it that way. So if you haven’t noticed this whole process takes time but can also save you a lot. We used to get our boat cleaned and waxed and to be done properly it costs a lot of money. After a while we noticed that the people we normally hired, did not do the best job so we took on the task ourselves. Normally I give myself at least 8 hours of total time. I have a 23 foot Air Nautique and it still looks new from the day I bought it.
After cleaning the boat I like to wax it to give it a proper clean finish. Unfortunately this takes as much time as cleaning, sometimes longer. If you have a drill I would recommend buying a foam buff pad that can attach to the drill to make your life easier. Get a medium sized pad because if you go to big, you won’t have enough pressure to actually apply the pressure of the pad to properly get the wax coat on. If you don’t have a drill you will understand why after about 30 minutes of waxing your boat.
Once you have coated your boat, you will let it sit for a designated time frame that the wax label will tell and then you want to wax it off. Usually for this I use a terry cloth so I can make sure enough pressure is on to get rid of the excess material.
How do you know if you did a good job?
Well, it takes time and patience and you will get it after a couple times, I can assure you. I usually like to spray the boat with a hose and see if the water beads off the boat. If it does, you will know you did a good job and it will prevent slime and algae from growing on your boat quickly. If it doesn’t you may have to go over that area or areas again.
Make sure you have the right cleaning equipment for your boat and take all necessary precautions. Wear gloves and get your friends to help cause you know they will be using the boat to!
Our top 5 products!
Remember patience is a virtue and it will take time. You cannot rush this so if you are in a hurry, wait a day. If done properly your boat will be looking good as new.
Star Brite Instant Hull Cleaner
Star Brite Instant Hull cleaner is our number product for best hull cleaner! It is safe and easy to use and does NOT contain any harmful products so you can use this cleaner anywhere. Great for Fiberglass, metal and painted surfaces so you don't have to cover up any spots with painters tape or really be careful. You can just apply the cleaner to a terry cloth or soft sponge and away you go. It really does work regardless of the thickness of the grim and stains of the water.
For this hull cleaner you really don't need much elbow grease which is great. Depending on how long your boat has been in the water and how much scum is actually on it, you may need a little pressure but it really does work great. This is what I use to start cleaning my boat at the end of the year. After being in the water for 6 months, even though it is fresh water, it still gathers algae, some rust and marine growth. I usually do 1 thorough coat and go back over a couple spots that need a little TLC.
Make sure you wear gloves just a precautionary and use a well vented area. 32 oz bottle will get a 24 foot boat no problem. Any bigger you may want to order two bottles.
MaryKate on and off Hull Cleaner
Marykate On and Off Hull Cleaner is next up which also works extremely well but it is only for fiberglass boats and will NOT harm the gel coat. The bottle comes in a 32 oz container but can also be purchased in 2 and 3 pack depending on the size of your boat. Usually one bottle should be able to get a boat about 25 feet and smaller but you know you are going to be using it two to three times are year so you mid as well save by ordering more.
Not only is it great against the elements of the water including waterline stains and algae but also rust and gas lines from when you fill (normally someone else) your boat up at the marina or on land and it leaves a little gas line, well not anymore. Marykate will rid the problem and leave you boat looking spotless.
What also works great about this product is that you can transfer it into a spray bottle and just spray in certain areas of your boat that may be hard to reach or just to make life easier as well.
Slimy Grimy Granular Tub
Slimy Grimy is another great product for cleaning the hull of your boat especially if you have a bigger boat because this comes in a 1 pound tub. Not only is it great for your boat but also around the house, trailer, camper or anywhere that has algae, rust or grim on it.
If you have a larger boat or larger space you can mix Slimy Grimy with a 1:1, 1:2, and 1:3 water mix. It won't scratch fiberglass and it will look as if your boat was brand new. There is nothing that Slimy Grimy cannot do. If you are looking to clean your whole house up, you can use it on exteriors of homes, lift dirt and grime from wooden decks. If the siding of your house is stucco, brick, aluminum need not to worry and even your roof with all kinds of shingles. It really is your multipurpose cleaner that does not stop at your boat.
Spray Nine Marine Cleaner
Another great hull cleaner that is not only good for marine products but for also around the house and yard. Spray Nine Marine Cleaner come in a 32 oz spray container, pack of 12, 1 gallon (128 ounces) and 1 gallon pack of 4. You will never run out, except for the amount you will be saving! You can spray on the hull of your boat rinse off but for real tough grime you may need a terry cloth or soft sponge and put a little strength into cleaning the hull.
As I talk about the hull of the boat this is also good for mold and mildew on vinyl, carpets and hard surfaces. Just be cautious in what kind of vinyl you have because sometimes it can do more harm than good. On the boat I have at the moment, once a week I will use this product on my seats and padded areas that are made of vinyl. Make sure you use an even amount of spray and clean thoroughly so there is no residue left. If you miss spots, sometimes the sun will leave darker spots and make the vinyl look worse. Just make sure you do a thorough job and no problems.
Clean Boat Biodegradable Hull Cleaner
Clean boat Biodegradable Hull Cleaner is the one for you if you boat is in the water or you care about the environment! At 98% biodegradable you know you are doing the environment a favor by not polluting the earth anymore than it is. It is an organic non-foaming product that is easy to put on and rinse off with a shine left over. That is what 20 years of experience will do for you.
Like a few of the other products it is not only great for the boat but also stain and grease remover, it is good for all boat surfaces. I know how not only algae and grim can get on your boat but also, drink spills and other liquids on your vinyl, mold in those hard to reach places and who knows what else, this is the product that will get rid of them and not damage anything else.
It is so easy to use; Dilute the product to a 1:2 1:3 or even half and half depending on the mess you have. Spray the surface and let it sit for 5-10 seconds and then rinse with clean fresh water. Yes it is that easy. Not only is it easy to use but it also has a waterproof coating and anti UV protector because lets hope you are in the sun on your boat!
You can never have to many different cleaning products and the best part is that they are cheap for the most part and every boat and individual will make their claim on the best product. Here are my recommendations and I know one of them will work for you!