How Do You Detail A Boat

boat detailing guide

Detailing your boat is incredibly important to ensuring your watercraft lasts for years to come. After a day on the water, the different particles and contaminants in the water will stick to your hull. Over time, this can cause oxidization stains and corrode your hull, which can be costly to repair. As such, you should ideally get your boat detailed 1-2 times per year.   

A fresh detailing can also make sure your boat looks brand new when you take your boat out for a day on the water with friends and family. Keep reading to learn more about the detailing process!

Start Off Rinsing The Boat 

With a hose or pressure washer, generously rinse off the exterior. This will knock loose any newly accumulated grime and contaminants and make the rest of the process easier. Start from the top front and work your way to the bottom of the stern. Pay extra attention to the hull.

Do not directly spray water onto any of the electrical components or interior. If a little mist touches the interior it’s ok, but you should try to avoid spraying the hose into the interior. 

Apply Boat Soap

Now that the hull has been hosed off, it’s time to add the soap. Most boat hulls are made out of fiberglass, metal, plastic, and in some cases, wood. Oftentimes, these hulls are treated with special finishes to withstand damage from water. Certain cleaners are better for certain types of hulls. Most household cleaning chemicals can damage the finish and the hull underneath. Thus, you should only use specialized boat cleaning solutions.

Apply the soap in small sections of the boat and do not allow the soap to dry. This could also damage the finish. Work the soap into a lather and scrub off the grime and grit with a soft sponge. Rinse off the soap before starting on the next section.

Buff Your Watercraft

Doesn’t your boat look so much smoother? The next step of the detailing process is to buff the hull. 

Either buff by hand with a buffing cloth or use a rotary buffer to add the shine to the smooth surface. Buffing the hull will ensure your boat is both smooth, sleek, and shiny for the next step.

Apply Wax

It’s time to make her look squeaky clean! Adding wax to the boat gives your beautiful investment a fresh-from-the-showroom feel but it’s also a major step in protecting your boat’s hull. The wax coating serves as a protective layer from dirt, debris, particles in the water, and other contaminants that would otherwise stick to the smooth surface you just buffed.

As with the cleaner, you should only use boat wax that’s safe for your hull. Work with very small sections of your boat’s hull at a time and buff it out as you go. This will ensure your boat has an even polished surface.

Clean The Interior of Your Boat

Can you believe we’re five steps (and a couple of hours!) into the detailing process, yet the job is only half done?

Remove all of your boating and marine equipment. This includes your life jackets, fenders, fishing poles, rope, anchor, flags, and other equipment. If it’s not physically part of the watercraft, take it out.

Get to work cleaning the interior of your boat. Vacuum out any dust and dirt on the floor, in the seams of the seats, in the storage compartments, and other areas. Depending on your boat’s interior fabrics, you may need more specialized cleaners. For example, if you have leather seats, apply a leather-safe treatment and allow it to dry, following the instructions on the label. If you have vinyl seats, coating them with a UV-blocker will decrease sun-damage.

If you have any aluminum poles, grab a can of metal polish and make it look good as new. If they’re stainless steel, wipe them clean.

Wipe off the steering wheel, pedals, and handles. Wipe off the gauges. Clean inside the cupholders.

Clean the Bimini Top

If you have a fabric bimini top, remove it and wash it. After your bimini top is clean and dry, reattach it to the boat.

Put Things Back

Make sure you’ve cleaned and sanitized all of the equipment, toys, and other times you removed from the boat at the beginning of Step 5. This will ensure you’re not tracking bacteria back into your freshly cleaned boat. If they’re clean and dry, put them back in their proper compartments.

Don’t Forget the Boat Trailer

Don’t forget to clean any sludge, grime, or mildew from the boat trailer.

Remember to Check Your Fluids

If you know how, it’s a good idea to check your fluids every time you detail your boat to properly maintain your boat.

Trust Hagadone Marine to Get Your Boat Clean

Don’t want to buy all the special cleaners, polishes, waxes, treatments, and tools? Would you rather a team with 20+ years of experience help you make your boat look like new? At Hagadone Marine Group, we have one of the northwest’s largest boat detailing facilities and the ability to make sure your boat looks like it’s fresh out of our showroom. We’ll also warn you if we see signs of problems with your boat so you can avoid costly repairs later on.  Schedule a detailing appointment with us today at 208-664-8474.