How To Clean Boat Seats

How To Clean Boat Seats Featured Photo

The seats are easily the comfiest zone of a boat. But they are also the most prone to dirt and staining. This is due to their constant exposure to moisture and humidity (being on the water all day), ​​which causes mildew problem.

No matter how great your boat’s amenities are, stains and spots on the seats can keep you from relaxing on board and potentially reduce the total value of your vessel. And any traces of stains on the vinyl seats is enough to give your guests a terrible first impression.

Well, luckily, removing mold and mildew from your boat’s interior is quite straightforward if you spot it sooner. Preventing moisture from penetrating your upholstery early on can keep mildew from invading your comfy cushions.

Regular boat maintenance can keep your precious boat looking new and fresh. So, make cleaning your boat seats an essential part of your maintenance routine!

If you’re not sure how to clean boat seats, I’ll show you a few easy steps.

How To Clean Boat Seat With These Easy Steps

Most boats are made with modern vinyl that has antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and anti-stain layers. These treatments help prevent mildew, mold, and dirt at bay. But that doesn’t mean that molds and mildew can’t attack your boat seats. They can still thrive if you let contaminants infiltrate the material.

Also, not cleaning your boat cushions properly might scrape or chemically destroy those vital treatments in your vinyl seats. Below are simple measures you can take for keeping your boat seats in good condition.

Wet the surface with warm freshwater.

Or rinse them. Using a soft rag and mild soap, make sure to clean the vinyl cushion often, at least once a week. Maintain a consistent cleaning schedule. It is far easier to avoid mildew than it is to eradicate it completely.

As much as possible, don’t use additional vinyl cleaner unless you absolutely need to. It’s always best to use a specialized marine-grade vinyl cleaner to remove stubborn mold and mildew.

Wipe, don’t air dry.

After you’ve rinsed your boat seats, thoroughly wipe the surfaces until completely dry. Don’t let them air dry as leaving any moisture will leave your boat highly susceptible to humidity. This will create a perfect breeding ground for mildew.

Protect with sealant.

Make sure to be generous with this. There are various highly sought-after products on the market that can help in preventing mildew or mold from growing. Try to do your research to determine which product is appropriate for your seat’s material.

You’ll also want to follow any sealing instructions on the label. If the instructions state that you should apply a sealant once a month, don’t miss an application.

Routine Cleaning

You’ll need to create a cleaning program or timetable for your boat’s vinyl seats. Depending on the condition of your boat seats, this routine may need to be considerably more intricate and extensive.

With a larger cruiser, for example, you may have a dozen or even more seats to keep clean, dry, and sealed. If you’re operating an 18-foot fishing boat, you might only have a few pedestal seats and a bench to contend with.

Follow these steps:

  • For routine cleaning, you can mix 1 gallon of water and ¼ cup of mild soap.
  • Using a soft cloth or sponge, rub the surfaces of the seats with the solution in a circular motion.
  • To clear excess soap, rinse the seats well with clean water and a cloth.

For a quick spot fix, you can also use a wipe and alcohol.

Deep Cleaning

Make an effort to deep clean your boat seats before storing your boat for winter, during mid-season, or when you bring it out back in the spring. Even though you take the necessary measures to care for and maintain your boat seat, it is likely that you’ll need to thoroughly clean them frequently.

Prepare your materials beforehand. Stock on strong vinyl boat seat cleansers and a firm soft-bristled vinyl brush. You’ll also need a protectant for the surface.

Here’s how you can deep clean your boat seats:

  • The first thing you need to do is fill a bucket with soap solution or warm water. Then, scrub the vinyl with the brush after applying soap or cleaner, allowing the seat cushions to soak up the solution.
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm, fresh water, and dry to ensure that no moisture remains to enable bacterial growth. And finally, apply for UV protection on vinyl.

Note: Make sure to avoid using strong cleansers including ammonia and bleach as these can scrape or wash down the material. The cleansers should be for marine vinyl which is specifically formulated for your boat seats and not for home use. And they should be safe to use on vinyl seats.

Getting Rid of Stubborn Mildew and Stains

Mildew and Stains on Boat Seat

Regardless of your dedication and hard work in keeping your boat seats clean, you may one day need to face your foes. Mold and mildew stains are common among fabric boat seats, but they are also easily treatable with mildew stain remover.

You’ll need either a professional mold and mildew remover or one you can prepare yourself with water, bleach, and soap to remove mold off your boat seats.

To remove stubborn mildew and stains, follow these steps:

  • Mix a cup of bleach and ¼ cup of mild soap per gallon of water.
  • Spray the solution on the entire surface stains and let it soak in for 15 minutes.
  • Using a sponge, clean damp cloth, or bristle brush, remove the stain.
  • Thoroughly rinse to eliminate any remnants of the soap.
  • Let it air dry and use a microbiological inhibitor and a protectant.

If the stains become extremely difficult to remove, it may be necessary to choose between removing the stain with some physical harm to the vinyl and getting new seats or paying for upholstery. 

Spot Cleaning

Spot cleaning your boat can do wonders in keeping stains from invading your vinyl seats.

Here’s how to do it:

  • With a spray bottle, apply a gentle mist of mild soap and water.
  • Scrub the surface lightly with a sponge or very soft brush to get the solution into the stains.
  • Thoroughly rinse to eliminate any soap residue.
  • Using a clean, soft cloth or sponge, absorb any moisture left. Then, let it air dry.

Replacing Boat Seats

Stubborn mold and mildew will be very hard to remove, which is why planning regular maintenance are necessary to keep them at bay. Replacing your boat seats is the point where it’s basically a hopeless case. You might need to replace them with new cushions or seat covers.

Proper Way of Rinsing and Cleaning Boat Seats

The essential way to keep boat seats in great shape is to remove dirt and impurities before mold or mildew forms. When this happens, that awful thing creeps into the cushions and the vinyl. And this can make a very difficult cleaning process.

Removing mildew off vinyl boat seats is just as annoying as it is baffling since even if you clean your boat from the surface, it will regrow from inside. And this is why cleaning your boat seats regularly is so important, though you may do so once a week if you’re just keeping your boat indoors in a controlled atmosphere.

Also, even though the seats appear to be clean, you must rinse them down after every use. Even if you don’t see sunscreen, insect repellant, sweat, or grease, you still need to wash them away.

Here are several tips:

  • Make sure to always use fresh water, a soft cloth, or a wash mitt. A mild soap should be enough to clean vinyl boat seats.
  • Instead of scrubbing vigorously at dirt or stains, soak them in water and soap. Give it a few minutes to dislodge any dirt.
  • Next, give them a more thorough wipe-down.
  • Repeat the process for numerous cycles until the vinyl is clean.

You must do this on a regular basis, no matter how clean the boat looks to you. Even when you keep your boat in a covered location, the surface can still accumulate dirt and grimes.

How To Choose the Best Cleaner for Boat Seats?

You want a cleaner that can remove filth, grime, mold, and mildew without destroying your boat’s vinyl seats. Whether it’s mildew or stains from spilled drinks, you should get away with a mixture of soap and water. However, if you want to use over-the-counter cleaners, you must select the best products.

Most seat manufacturers warn against putting an aftermarket cleaning solution on vinyl. But, keep in mind that the treatments used by the manufacturer on the seats will degrade and wear off with time.

Here are a couple of things you must consider when choosing the best cleaning products for your boat seats.

Specialized Vinyl Cleaners

Depending on how frequently you use and how seldom you maintain your boat, stains might become so hard to remove at some point in the life cycle of your boat seat. At some point, those eyesore black spots will appear.

During this phase, you should definitely grab a vinyl cleaner. After applying it, thoroughly clean the seats, allow them to dry completely, and then layer a vinyl protectant.

No to Caustic Cleaners

It is crucial to avoid using caustic cleansers, regardless of how difficult it will be to clean your boat seats. Such cleansers and bleach not only remove any protective properties on the boat seat’s surface but will also degrade and brittle the vinyl, leading to tears and tears.

These cleaners may also damage the threads on the vinyl. The stitching simply will not survive long after exposure to harsh chemicals.

How long your boat seats will survive with cleaners on a regular basis depends on where your boat is and how you use and store it. One thing is certain, though, the more frequent you clean and maintain your boat seats, the longer it can last you. Doing regular cleaning will keep them looking nice and new.


How do you clean badly stained boat seats?

Most experts use a combination of solution of cleaner and boat scrub for difficult spots on your boat seats. Rub the spot with this solution using a cloth or a small scrub brush. You can also try exposing the stained area to UV rays for several weeks.

How can I make my boat seats white again?

When cleaning white boat seats, practice extreme caution. You can either use a solution of warm water and mild soap, or a cleaner designed specifically for cleaning white seats.

What household items can I use to clean vinyl boat seats?

White vinegar, liquid dish soap, warm water, and club soda are among the ideal supplies if you wish to do a DIY vinyl boat seat cleaning. These household products have excellent cleaning powers while also being gentle on delicate surfaces. You’ll want to use them, especially on a pricey boat seat.

Will baking soda clean boat seats?

Baking soda could help due to its excellent cleaning properties. You can use it to clean a variety of items, and this includes vinyl boat seats. Then, grab a clean cloth and scrub the paste thoroughly until clean. Rinse well, wipe it down, and let it air dry.

Can you pressure wash vinyl boat seats?

Other boat owners opt for a power washer on their vinyl, however, this can harm the upholstery. When you power wash, you are applying too much pressure in one spot, causing a rip in the material.

How do you clean white vinyl boat seats?

When tackling white vinyl, you must exercise extreme caution. You either use a simple solution of warm water and mild soap, or a cleaner formulated specifically for this task.

Can I use bleach on vinyl?

Bleach is a caustic cleanser that can cause damage to or ruin the vinyl.

How do you whiten yellowed vinyl boat seats?

Getting rid of any yellowing white vinyl steps is easy with these simple steps.  In a spray bottle, combine ammonia and water. For every cup of water, add 4 teaspoons of ammonia. Using a vinyl and leather scrub brush, evenly spray the seat.

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