How Do You Clean A Boat After Saltwater? [ 2023]

Reviewed By Boatsbuilding Expert

How do you clean a boat after saltwater?

Keeping a boat clean in saltwater is the most difficult task.

When saltwater is not properly cleaned, it leaves behind corrosive residue that damages the boat.

Cleaning a boat after it’s been in saltwater is something most of us dread.

When you get out of the water, you should clean your boat seat.

If you clean your boat right after saltwater boating, corrosion and additional damage can be minimized.

You should still thoroughly clean your boat if it’s old.

A boat’s materials can be damaged by saltwater, which is why it is important to keep them clean when necessary. 

Wash the vessel gently with soapy water, using a wash mitt or soft rag. Begin at the top and work your way down the hull.
Rinse the soap with clean water, and make sure to rinse the fish boxes and live wells.
Allow the boat to dry or clean it with a squeegee blade. A squeegee blade will remove excess water and debris, resulting in the best possible results for your vessel.
Allow hatches to dry completely by leaving them open.
To protect the metal and vinyl components, use polishes and vinyl coatings.

How to Wash Your Boat?

After rinsing your boat, follow these instructions to give it a deeper clean:
Use a wash mitt or soft cloth to gently wash the vessel in soapy water. Begin at the top and let the soap run down the hull.
Spray down the fish boxes and living wells after rinsing the soap with fresh water.
Dry the boat off or use a squeegee blade to clean it. A squeegee blade will remove extra water and any debris that is left over, giving your vessel the best results possible.
Keep hatches open so they can completely dry out.
To protect the metal and vinyl components, use polishes and vinyl coatings.

Here’s a 15-minute guide to help you clean and remove from seat of salt crystals on your boat.

In this guide, we’re going to look at how to properly clean a boat after using it in saltwater.

How Do You Clean A Boat After Saltwater

Source: Youtube

Items To Used For Cleaning A Boat

Fresh water
Vinyl Cleaner
Soft Cloth.
Stiff brushes/Steel brushes

Steps Of How Do You Clean A Boat After Salt Water?

Steps Of How Do You Clean A Boat After Salt Water

Prepare Your Boat Perfectly

Before launching your boat, use a flat surface and make sure to avoid areas with turbulent water.

Remove any items you don’t want to get wet such as food/gear before proceeding.

It is recommended that you wear protective gear, including gloves, apron, and goggles at all times.

This protects your eyes and body from any accidental chemical spillages you might face.

It’s important that you make sure your boat battery is off and disconnected before getting washed.

Disconnecting the cord will help ensure thorough cleaning of your boat.


Rinse Your Engine

Leaving your boat without rinsing saltwater off regularly will result in corrosion.

It’s best to rinse both internally and externally as often as you can to reduce the incidence of corrosion.

After you’re done being on the water for the day, make sure to rinse your boat with fresh water and flush out saltwater from the engine.

Cleaning your engine prevents decay between trips.

Rub salt off of cleaned surfaces while they are still wet.

After the water has evaporated, it is much harder to remove the salt.


Clean All Sections

First, use high-quality good boat soap. The best good boat soap for you will help you clean your boat exterior.

I would advise you to avoid cleaning the upper areas of your vessel first,

Because doing so may dirty the already clean surfaces.

That’s right, not only will you reduce the level of salt and dirt accumulating on the boat’s surface but you’ll also avoid accidentally reapplying it at some point down the line.

Use a lot of freshwaters to clean your boat and use a squeegee to ensure that the gel coat remains intact.


Clean the Floor Surface

Get a steel brush and scrub the carpeted floor of your boat.

It should not be too hard to clean off the wood, dry surface.

Scrub carefully so you don’t tear up the boat’s carpeting.

If you’re not careful, your only option will be expensive repairs.


Wax and Polish Your Hull

To check for barnacle build-up, salt erosion, or other types of wear and tear, wax and polish your hull 2-3 times per season to keep it looking sleek.

It is still possible to find well-maintained boats with gel coat paint.

Cleaning and polishing your boat regularly, however, can help to make sure it doesn’t get damaged and increase its resale value in the future.

How Do You Clean A Boat After Salt Water Fishing?

How Do You Clean A Boat After Salt Water Fishing?

The saltwater from the ocean can be highly corrosive and damaging to your boat.

It will leave a white residue on the boat, which is not only unsightly but also dangerous.

Saltwater fishing is also a great way to spend time with family and friends.

But, after the fishing trip is over, there are some things that need to be taken care of.

The boat needs to be cleaned and dried before it can be stored for the next use.

The process of cleaning a boat after saltwater fishing is not an easy task.

There are many different ways to do it, depending on how much time you want to invest and what kind of equipment you have available.

There are some cleaning tips you can take to make the process easier and more effective.

Wash the boat with clean water immediately after getting back from your fishing trip.
Scrub the boat with soap and water.
Rinse off the boat with fresh water.
Allow the boat to dry by rubbing in a shaded area away from direct sunlight.

How to Clean A Boat After Salt Water Fishing With Vinegar

How to Clean A Boat After Salt Water Fishing With Vinegar

You will need:

  • White vinegar 
  • Water 
  • Bucket 
  • Scrub brush and/or cloth 

Use this basic mixture to clean your boat in general. One cup of white vinegar and a gallon of water should be combined in a bucket. Get rid of filth and grime by cleaning surfaces with a scrub brush or cloth. Water the place down.

How To Clean Inboard Boat Engine After Salt Water?

Clean Inboard Boat Engine After Salt Water

The saltwater is corrosive and will eat away at the metal.

The boat engine will be one of the most important things to clean after spending time in saltwater.

Most boat engines are made of aluminum, which is not as corrosive as steel.

Aluminum is also lighter, which means it won’t take as much work to clean the engine.

Saltwater makes it easier for corrosion to form on any metal object that it touches.

Corrosion can cause a lot of damage to your boat engine if you don’t take care of it right away.

Remove all the saltwater from the boat by using a hose.
Clean the boat with a high-pressure hose or pressure washer.
Use a bucket of fresh water and soap to wash off any remaining salt and dirt.
Rinse off any soap residue with a high-pressure hose or pressure washer.

How To Clean A Pontoon Boat After Salt Water?

Clean A Pontoon Boat After Salt Water

One of the most common things that people do with their pontoon boat and deck is to take it out on the water.

Saltwater can be a great way to clean and preserve your boat, but you need to know how to properly clean it afterward.

You can start by removing all of the electronics and taking them inside.

You should also remove any gear that is not waterproof and store it inside as well.

Next, you will want to remove any cushions, life jackets, or other items that are not waterproof.

If there are any chairs or benches on your pontoon, you will also want to remove those and store them indoors as well.

Next, you will want to go ahead and wash off all of the deckings with a hose or pressure washer.

It is important to clean the boat after it has been in saltwater.

Here are some more steps

Wipe down all surfaces with a towel or rag.
Disconnect battery cables from terminals and remove batteries from the compartment.
Remove drain plugs and pour out any water remaining in the bilge.
Inspect for corrosion on metal surfaces and remove with a wire brush or sandpaper if necessary.
Wipe down all surfaces again with a clean towel or rag to remove any residue from the cleaning process.

Storing Boat After Cleaning Salt Off Boat

Storing Boat After Cleaning Salt Off Boat

In order to preserve the good condition of your boat, it’s important to store a boat after cleaning the salt off the boat.

Check out these best practices for storing a boat after washing and drying it.

You should always rinse your boat off with fresh water and then let the boat dry before storing it.

The best way to make sure your battery is not in use is to disconnect the batteries for several days.
After draining the fluid in a hydraulic system, use a stabilizing agent such as water, glycols, or polyglycerols.
This can be done by removing the cushions from the boat’s seats and washing them out with soap and water. In some cases, it may require more in-depth cleaning such as scrubbing them or sending them through a dye machine.
Make sure to dry all of the seat cushions before putting them back in place on your boat so that they are comfortable to sit on.
The boat needs to be waxed thoroughly for it to be protected from salt. Apply wax three times every year and make sure not to forget if the boat has been used in saltwater or not.

How To Clean Your Boat After Use?

We will show you how to properly clean a boat after each use in saltwater.

The best way to start is by inspecting the hull of the boat for any signs of corrosion.

You also want to make sure that all the deck fittings are tight.

This includes all screws, bolts, and nuts.

If you find corrosion, then you need to scrub it off with a stiff brush and water.

For deck fittings that need tightening, use a wrench or screwdriver and tighten them up.

If there is any rust on the propeller shafts or other metal parts then use sandpaper or steel wool to get rid of it before applying a protective coating such as wax or paint.

Once everything has been inspected and repaired, then you should rinse the boat off with fresh water from a hose before.

How To Prevent Damage From Saltwater Exposure?

 Prevent Damage From Saltwater Exposure

Saltwater is a corrosive substance that can cause damage to boats, cars, and other items.

The salt in salt water can cause rusting and corrosion on metal surfaces.

The water can also corrode rubber seals or gaskets. It can also leave stains on wood or fiberglass surfaces.

In order to prevent damage from saltwater exposure,

It is best to rinse off the boat with fresh water after coming back from a trip to the ocean or other salty bodies of water.

It is also important to use freshwater for washing down the boat after each trip as well as for rinsing off any gear that comes into contact with salt water.

Clean the boat as soon as possible after it has been in saltwater.
Use fresh water to rinse the boat off and then dry it off with a towel or chamois cloth.
Apply a coat of wax to protect against future damage from salty ocean water.

How To Dry Your Boat After It’s Washed

If you have a boat, there’s nothing better than taking it out on the water.

But what do you do after it’s been washed?

  • A tarp and a fan are the best way to dry your boat.
  • You should first find a place where your boat can be dried by the sun.
  • Next, lay a tarp down and top it with your fan.
  • You can then lay the wet side of your boat over the tarp and allow the sun to dry it!

Can I Wash My Boat With Salt Water?

 Clean A Boat After Saltwater

You just need to make sure that you use it in the right way.

You should rinse your boat with fresh water first.

Saltwater will damage the paint or metal of your boat if it is not rinsed off.

After you rinse off the saltwater, you should wash your boat with fresh water and a mild soap or detergent.

Rinse off that soap or detergent as well before drying your boat with a towel or chamois cloth.

How To Clean Boat Engine After Salt Water?

Assuming you want tips on how to clean a boat engine after salt water exposure:

Rinse the engine with fresh water as soon as possible after being in salt water. This will help to prevent corrosion.
Use a soft brush to remove any debris from the engine.
Wash the engine with a mild soap and water solution.
Rinse the engine thoroughly with fresh water.
Rinse the engine thoroughly with fresh water.
Dry the engine completely to prevent corrosion.
Apply a corrosion protection product to the engine, if desired.

Final Thought

Cleaning a boat and maintaining a boat can be challenging. 

As boat owners cannot avoid getting their boats wet, they must take care of them.

Nonetheless, saltwater can cause it to deteriorate over time.

In order to prevent the boat from getting damaged by saltwater, the owner must clean and dry it after each use.

Here are some helpful tips regarding how to clean your boat after you use saltwater to minimize the corrosive effects of saltwater during the coming boating season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does salt water ruin boats?

Saltwater does not ruin boats. It can actually help protect the boat from other damaging elements like rust, insects, and fire. Saltwater is also corrosive to metals like aluminum, copper, zinc, and brass which are found on boats as well as other materials such as upholstery fabrics, vinyl flooring, and carpeting.

How do you neutralize salt on a boat?

To neutralize saltwater, you need to mix it with fresh water in equal parts and then use a bilge pump to get rid of the mixture from your boat.
Another method is by using vinegar or lemon juice baking soda and water, which will form an alkaline solution that helps remove salt from boats as well as other surfaces like concrete floors, tile grout, etc.

How do you clean an aluminum boat after saltwater?

In order to clean an aluminum boat after saltwater, you will need to use a brush and soapy water. You can use a scrubbing pad or a sponge. You will need to scrub or wipe the boat with the brush and then rinse it off with water.

How bad is saltwater for boats?

Saltwater is a natural part of the marine environment, but it can be very damaging to boats. The damage is caused by the salt and minerals in the water, which corrode metal and make the boat’s paint fade.

What do you wipe a boat with after use?

You would use a damp cloth to wipe the boat down and dry it off. You should not use soap or detergent as it may damage the boat’s surface.

Do you have to wash your boat every time?

Boats require regular washing as they can easily get dirty from the water, sand, mud, bugs, and saltwater. If a boat is left uncleaned for too long, it could become infested with algae which could damage the hull of the boat due to its corrosive nature.

Fred Apstein
Fred Apstein is a man of many talents. He studied at Sustainable Community Development and Royal Roads University, but what he loves to do is sailing, building boats, cooking seafood, and picking up the pieces when things go wrong! He's been in business for over 40 years with no refrigeration on his sailboats - that means food drying and pickling became necessary skills