Row of boats in storage for the winter under the awning. Warehouse on the boat pier. Concept preparation for winter.

Boat Blogs: What Is the Best Thing to Clean a Fiberglass Boat With?

Unlike regular boats, a fiberglass boat comes with added complexity when cleaning the deck or the hull made of fiberglass. The reason is one word: Gelcoat.

A gel coat is a modified resin that represents the top layer of the fiberglass on your boat. The gel coat layer provides resistance to chemicals, UV, and hydrolysis. It also gives shine and a smooth, reflective color to the surface.

You might be thinking, that’s all good, so what’s the problem with it? The thing is, as the boat ages, the soft surface of the gel coat gets eroded. As a result, it becomes dull, chalky, porous, and generally harder to clean.

Is there no choice but to do a fiberglass boat repaint? Before it comes to that, take a look at the cleaning products that can help maintain the gloss and shine of fiberglass boats.

1. Soap and Water

Washing with good old soap and water is the most practical and straightforward way to restore some of your boat’s lost sheen.

Take note that there are many specialized soaps or cleaners for boats available in the market. Some of the reputable brands include Star Brite, 3M, and MaryKate. Just follow the instructions for mixing amounts into a volume of water.

Don’t assume that your boat is already “pre-rinsed” because of its time in the water. Instead, use clean, fresh, warm water to rinse, then get to the washing part.

2. Mildew and Rust Removers

Unfortunately, washing with soap and water may not be enough to remove the stains that your boat has accumulated over its lifetime. Organic discoloration from mildew and bird droppings and mineral stains such as rust can be quite a challenge to get rid of.

That’s why mildew and rust removers are among the list of supplies that you should have in your arsenal. Apply these specially formulated cleaning products to remove these unsightly blemishes.

3. Fiberglass Boat Degreaser

Oil and grease stains are a fact of life for boat owners. Therefore, degreasing is the logical next step after washing and drying. Use a non-scratching degreasing product to lift off the grease and oil from the gel coat layer.

Don’t skip degreasing because you need the surface to be free of oil and grease before proceeding to the product below.

4. Boat Polish or Rubbing Compound

You should know that polish is not a coating. Instead, it’s an abrasive that can smooth out the eroded and pitted gel coat surface. You can use a soft cloth or a low-speed circular buffer to apply the polish.

However, if the gel coat is highly weathered, a rubbing compound may succeed when the polish fails. It contains stronger abrasives, and you apply it as you would for polish.

5. Wax Coating

After polishing, the next step is to apply a coat of wax. It can protect the gel coat layer from UV, debris, and water damage. It can also make your boat shine like the day you bought it.

Please don’t make the mistake of ditching this step. The wax coating is your first line of defense against gel coat killers.

I’m on a Boat, Don’t You Ever Forget

If you own a fiberglass boat, don’t just accept that eventually, the fiberglass will become dull and chalky as your boat ages. Use these products to maintain the color and luster of your boat and make it memorable!

For more lifestyle tips, please check out the articles on this site.