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How to Clean a Boat the Easy, Cost-Effective Way

Is your boat dirty from road grime, water-line stains, dried salt and mildew stains? Sounds like a lot of work, right? Not really with the right cleaning products.

Last fall, I had my boat on the road with regularity until the week our Minnesota lakes iced up. We chased largemouth bass and muskies until the final bell rang, and it was awesome. My son and I traversed snow- and ice-covered roads several times a week to experience the best that late-season Minnesota fishing had to offer.

The tradeoff? A boat and trailer covered in winter road grime, sand and salt. And I made the lazy mistake of leaving it in that condition during winterization. A dumb move and a hard lesson learned. My boat was covered with a greenish-brown waterline stain covered with a coating of dried salt—like sandpaper.

It was gross.

Star brite boat cleaning products
(Thomas Allen photo)

Say Goodbye to Road Grime and Water-Line Stains

Thankfully come spring, I had a few tricks up my sleeve to clean the mess my negligence created. Over the years that I’ve owned my boat, and others in the past, I knew the easy answer was a thorough bath in Star brite’s Instant Hull Cleaner. This stuff is magical.


Simply spray it on your hull and watch it work—no rubbing or scrubbing required. After it’s soaked into the stains, a detailed rinse job is the next step in the cleaning process. It’s really that simple. If you want to take it a step or two further, a shammy and a coat of wax will really bring out that shine to the point you’ll stop and look back at her as you walk into the convenience store to load up on ice.


Star brite Instant Hull Cleaner
Star brite Instant Hull Cleaner (Thomas Allen photo)

But also learn from my mistakes, don’t let your rig sit for an entire season when it’s that dirty. Take the time to detail it before it goes into storage so when the time comes to pull her out, you’re basically ready to hit the water. Rather than a day of cleaning, you can go right to work jerking your favorite fish on Day 1.

Instant Hull Cleaner is meant for fiberglass and painted surfaces, and it truly works.

Say Goodbye to Mildew Stains

When a boat gets wet, moisture will make its way into the storage compartments where expensive gear is stored—and that’s the worst place for water. If left unattended, mildew and mold will certainly form and could cause corrosion on rods, reels, baits, hooks and whatever else you have placed in those locations. Mildew prevention starts beneath the lid.


Star brite Mildew Stain Remover
Star brite Mildew Stain Remover (Thomas Allen photo)

After that same year of winter negligence, (I’m still ashamed of myself) I opened the lids to find the underside covered in black dots and furry spots, a problem I needed to get on top of immediately. With Star brite’s Mildew Stain Remover, the issue was quickly and easily resolved—simply spray it on and wipe it off with a damp [KC1] rag. In other cases, a rinse is best, but the last thing you want to do is put more water inside the storage compartments, which is what caused the mildew and mold to from form at the very beginning.

Under circumstances where multiple seasons have compounded the issue with stubborn stains, incorporating the Star brite Magic Sponge XL makes removal of the stains a little easier with some extra elbow grease. Again, depending on the location, wipe with a clean rag or rinse with water to complete the task.

Star brite Mildew Stain Remover
Star brite Magic Sponge XL (Thomas Allen photo)

Most boats of quality are built to drain rainfall and breeched waves quickly without flooding compartments, but dampness will inevitably make it inside. If you stay on top of it as soon as it happens, problems likely won’t ever arise. If you’re like me, however, with many irons in the fire of life and occasionally forget, there are solutions. So don’t fret.


A wet and dirty boat can be a frustrating situation, to the point that you might dread even using it. But if you keep it clean and looking nice, you’ll beam with pride when the sun glistens from her hull and somebody comments on how nice it looks. It’s worth the extra effort to maintain the shine, and above all else, a well-maintained boat will last longer and provide years of enjoyable use.

A clean boat is a happy boat, and Star brite gets you there.

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