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How to Clean a Boat Cover (and Other Boat Cover Care Tips)

How to Clean a Boat Cover

Cleaning a boat cover may seem like hard work, but in reality, all it takes is the right cleaning solution, some simple cleaning equipment, and a bit of sweat equity to make your boat cover look brand new all over again. Eventually, the once-vivid colors may start to fade and stains will start to show, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy a new one when it starts looking all worn out. It’s entirely possible that giving it a thorough cleaning can save the day!

How to Clean a Boat Cover: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Prepare everything that you need. For starters, you’re going to need a cleaning solution, a spray bottle, paintbrush, soft bristle brush, gloves, and a container. For the cleaning solution, you can use soapy water (use mild soap instead of harsh detergents) or buy commercial products (such as boat canvas cleaner, vinyl window restorer, or boat canvas restorer). It’s your choice. Feel free to choose one that works for you.
  2. Remove loose dirt and debris. Gently brush off loose dirt and debris and soak the cover in cold water or hose it down to prep it for the next step.
  3. Spray cleaning solution. Use a soft bristle brush to thoroughly work the cleaning solution into the fabric, covering all areas. Pay special attention to the seams, since this is where dirt and grime usually accumulate. For stubborn spots, mix one cup of Borax powder and one cup of white vinegar in two cups of water.
    Tip: Always test the products on a small, discrete patch of the canvas before using it to reduce the risk of discoloration.
  4. Soak it up. Leave the canvas for about an hour to allow the cleaning solution to soak into the fabric and work its magic. You may let it soak for longer to remove stubborn stains.
  5. Give it a thorough rinse. Rinse until all soap residue is removed.
  6. Repeat steps, if necessary. Check to see if you managed to remove all the stains. If not, you may want to give it another go. In this case, repeat steps 3 to 5.
  7. Let it dry. Hang it up and allow it to dry completely before folding or putting it back on the boat.

How to Patch a Boat Cover

Boat covers are also prone to wear and tear. They can rip due to constant use and exposure to the elements. While you can always opt to buy a new one when this happens, particularly if your boat cover has been serving you for more than 15 years, you can still probably get more years out of it (and save money in the process) by patching it up. Don’t worry: you don’t need any special skills to do it. Here’s an easy way to patch a boat cover.

  1. Inspect the entire fabric. Identify the cause and extent of the damage and the best way to fix it. Work in an area with adequate lighting to help you locate even the smallest holes, and mark the spots with a bright-colored pen.
  2. Start with a clean, dry fabric. Wash the identified spot(s) using an appropriate canvas cleaner to remove grime and dirt and let the fabric dry completely.
  3. Measure the torn area. Using a ruler or tape measure, calculate the size of the canvas needed to patch the torn area. Add at least four inches to your measurements (length and width) to ensure proper patching.
  4. Cut and apply the patch. Cut two identical patch pieces to cover both sides of the tear. Use a canvas adhesive to secure them in place and weigh them down with a heavy item (book, wooden block, etc.). Wipe excess adhesive for a cleaner look. Allow the adhesive to dry completely before stitching the patch. For best results, use the heaviest outdoor polyester thread your machine can handle.
  5. Inspect your handiwork. Do a tug test to see if there are any gaps or loose stitching and fix the issue to avoid future problems.

Additional Boat Cover Care and Maintenance Tips

  1. Ensure good drainage. Use support poles, support systems, and straps to prevent water, snow, and debris from pooling on the cover.
  2. Tie it down securely. Avoid damaging your cover and your boat’s finish by using heavy-duty tie-down straps instead of bungee cords when trailering and check the tightness of the straps during your stopovers.
  3. Avoid accidental tearing at stress areas by padding windshields, depth finders, and trolling motors.
  4. Prevent discoloration by avoiding contact with battery acid, bird droppings, grease, gasoline, and tree sap.
  5. Allow the boat cover to dry thoroughly. Discourage mold and mildew growth by making sure that your boat cover is bone dry before storing it.
  6. Restore and reinforce water-repellent property. Your boat cover may eventually lose its water-beading ability with constant use, so use a high-quality reproofing solution to enhance its performance and longevity. Using a paintbrush, simply apply the solution liberally to thoroughly dry canvas and hang it out to dry for a few hours. However, avoid working under direct sunlight to prevent the solution from drying out too quickly.

Time for a New Boat Cover? Find What You Need at Seal Skin!

Serious boaters won’t settle for less. They know that their boats deserve nothing but the best boat cover so choose a Seal Skin cover when it’s time to buy a replacement. At Seal Skin Boat Covers, all of our products are 100% waterproof, yet extremely breathable, durable, and extremely affordable. We understand how much you love your boat so we help you get more for less.

We’re extremely confident that our products will not only meet, but surpass your expectations so we’re offering a 30-day return and exchange warranty with every purchase, at no additional cost. Please feel free to call us at 800-915-0038 during our office hours (Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST) if you have any questions about our products, exchange, and refund policies. We’re here to help you find the right cover for your boat, so give us a call today!

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