Proper, routine maintenance and cleaning should extend the life of your inflatable boat and keep it looking brand new any time of the year. But before you grab a hold of that scouring pad and soapy water solution, it helps to ask - what’s the best way to clean an inflatable boat?
Although some of the cleaning essentials you have at home might seem good enough, these boats require specific care to prevent damage during the cleaning process. Keen on cleaning your inflatable boat in the best way possible? These best inflatable boat cleaner formulations might be able to help you do just that.
The Best Inflatable Boat Cleaner Products
1. Meguiar’s M5716SP Marine Vinyl & Rubber Cleaner and Protectant
Combining a range of carefully selected ingredients, this cleaner and protectant deep cleans and restores inflatable boats by removing stains and gray spots. The formulation touts powerful effects that are specifically intended to target difficult cleaning jobs caused by constant exposure to marine environments.
Doubling as a protectant, this choice also works to prevent UV damage by leaving a protective barrier that deflects harmful rays. It also finishes off the cleaning job with a shiny, natural sheen that can get your boat looking as good as new.
2. 3M Marine Vinyl Cleaner, Conditioner, & Protector
Ideal for particularly worn and dirty inflatable boats, this cleaner, conditioner, and protector restores vinyl surfaces to its original shine and finish. The powerful formulation creates a protective barrier around the boat material, preventing UV damage from extended sun exposure.
Eating away at stains, dark spots, and discoloration, this product is especially easy to use. Simply dab a small amount on a non-abrasive cloth and work away stains in a circular motion for easy boat maintenance and cleaning.
3. MaryKate Inflatable Boat Cleaner
Intended specifically for inflatable boats, this pick is a spray-on formulation that dissolves stains and discoloration effortlessly. The carefully selected ingredients work to remove tough blemishes, but won’t fade your boat to keep it looking fresh and new even after multiple cleaning cycles.
Working on more than just vinyl and rubber, this formula also provides protection to prevent corrosion of metals when exposed to water. Its protective properties ensure excellent weatherproofing that reduces the risk of sun and moisture damage.
4. Star Brite One-Step Heavy Duty Cleaner Wax
This Starbrite inflatable boat cleaner comes in a thick, wax consistency that’s intended to work away stains and light to moderate oxidation. The one-step formulation lets you clean your boat and bring back its brand new shine and feel by simply wiping the product on.
Easy and quick, this choice works on a variety of surfaces so you won’t need to use too many products to work on a single boat. It also comes packed with UV inhibitors that protect your inflatable from sun damage, fading, and oxidation. This is a highly recommended boat wax for a pontoon.
5. Aurora Marine Inflatable Boat Cleaner
This spray-and-wipe solution cleans dirt, grime, stains, and discoloration in a breeze. But more than just that, this cleaner also gets diesel soot, insect marks, bird droppings, chalk, mold, mildew, and more.
As a complete, all-in-one cleaning solution, this Aurora Inflatable Boat Cleaner can target all the various aspects of your inflatable boat in one go. It also works on stainless steel, aluminum, chrome, and other similar surfaces so you won’t have to use a combination of products to achieve that brand new sheen.
6. Seapower Marine Inflatable Boat Cleaner
The Seapower Marine Inflatable Boat Cleaner is a specially formulated cleaner that’s intended for both rubber and vinyl boats. Its ingredients come together to remove some of the most difficult contaminants you might find on a boat, including tar, grease, and even oxidation.
Providing your boat an extra barrier of protection against environmental damage, this cleaner from Seapower also produces a satisfying shine so your boat looks as good as new after each new wash. The powerful formulation may also be able to reverse some UV damage, restoring your boat’s original color to boot.
7. Boat Candy Vinyl Clean
For those who are looking for mild care, the Boat Candy Vinyl Clean provides gentle cleaning power that’s ideal for boats who have seen a little more abuse than others. The pH-balanced formulation restores your boat’s original look and feel without exposing it to harsh chemicals that could potentially exacerbate existing damage.
Lifting and removing dirt, oil, and stains, the Boat Candy Vinyl Clean also doubles as a protective coat that gives your boat a little extra defense against heat and moisture damage. Offering protection from UV rays as well, this cleaner hopes to keep your boat looking clean and fresh even after several trips to your favorite fishing spot.
8. 303 Products Marine & Recreation Multi-Surface Cleaner
Sold in a convenient spray bottle, this formulation from 303 Products was developed to give your inflatable boat a shiny coat for that brand new look. The product is said to help reverse some of the damage caused by heat, UV exposure, and moisture, helping to buff away minor cosmetic damage that might have your boat looking a little scuffed.
This multi-surface cleaner also works wonders as a stain and spot remover. Soaking your target area with the product and then wiping and buffing it off can help get rid of stubborn spots and discoloration to get your boat looking fresh all over again.
How Do Inflatable Boat Cleaners Work? Do They Cause Damage?
The short answer is no! They won’t damage your boat. The very reason why they’re sold for use on inflatable boats is because they were formulated for them. They all work differently depending on their formulation, but in general, they ‘lift away’ dirt and contaminants from the surface of your boat.
Vinyl tends to look ‘dimpled’ upon closer inspection, and these ultra tiny divots in the surface of your boat can become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and contamination. These cleaners work their way into these divots and dissolve anything that doesn’t belong there.
As long as you use your commercial inflatable boat cleaner according to the instructions provided, you’re not likely to see any damage. Just make sure you don’t use any abrasive brushes, and that you read the labels. Metal cleaners and cleaners intended for actual pontoon boats may be too harsh for an inflatable boat.
How to Choose the Right Inflatable Boat Cleaner
No doubt, the wide selection of inflatable boat cleaners can make the process of settling on a single choice pretty difficult. But there are a few factors you can look into to make sure you’re buying the right product.
Inflatable boat cleaning formulations use a lot of chemicals that can be pretty strong. So if you were using the product on a certain type of boat material that it isn’t intended for, then you might end up eating through the structure.
Read the labels and make sure the product you’re looking into is compatible with the materials found on your boat. PVC, Hypalon, polyethylene are some of the most common materials you’ll find on an inflatable boat. However some cleaners extend their versatility by working on certain types of metals as well. This lets you clean the entire boat without the need for extra solutions.
Ease of Use
The entire purpose of buying an inflatable boat cleaner is to make the process of maintenance much easier. That’s why many of these formulations require only between one or three steps to achieve a thorough clean.
Some products need to be wiped on with a rag and then rubbed in circular patterns to work away stains. Others are sprayed on and left for a few minutes to work their magic, letting you rinse away the removed dirt and grime with water.
Another thing to look out for when buying a cleaner for your inflatable boat is whether or not it can protect your boat’s material. UV protectants work to reduce the risk of sun damage especially after extended exposure to heat.
But more than just UV protection, it also helps to look for formulations that protect against oxidation, stains, and saltwater damage. All of these factors can help keep your boat safe from damage, and may even extend the amount of time between cleaning.
Safety is a two-fold consideration. First of all, you need to make sure you’re buying a product that won’t damage your boat’s material. Fading, thinning, and scuffing can all compromise the integrity of your inflatable boat’s construction.
Then there’s the issue of your safety. These products will typically come with a range of health warnings to guide you during use. Most of them will cause irritation when they make direct contact with the skin or eyes. Others contain known carcinogens or chemicals that may cause birth defects. It helps to fully understand the risks before you go ahead and try your hand at using these strong products.
Inflatable Boat Cleaning Tips
Avoid Certain Types of Cleaners
Some stuff you have lying around at home might seem like suitable inflatable boat cleaning alternatives For example, lots of people like to use toilet bowl cleaner on pontoons. Some like to clean their pontoons with vinegar. But many of these will actually cause more harm than good on an inflatable. As a general rule, you should want to avoid products with a pH level that’s higher than 11.5.
Other than that, it’s best that you avoid ammonia, chlorine, acetone, toluene, solvents, and MEK. Using abrasive scrub pads, brushes, and rags can also scuff up your boat and damage its surfaces.
Perform a PH Test Before Use
If you’re using a cleaner for the first time, it would be best to test its pH before you actually use it on your boat. Most drug stores have pH test kits that you can use for instant results. If the reading you get shows that the product has a pH that’s greater than 11.5, you can go ahead and move on to your next option.
Rinse, Rinse & Rinse
Rinsing with fresh, clean water should be one of the standard practices of cleaning. While some products won’t mention it as part of the usage directions, it would be wise to rinse your boat before using any products.
This gets rid of dirt, grime, and residue that might not need harsh chemicals to come off of your boat’s surface. In doing so, you minimize the need for excessive product and make it easier for the formulation to penetrate deeper, more stubborn stains.
Inflatable boat cleaners can be dangerous to your health, so it helps you cover up whenever you use them. Long rubber gloves, boots, and even eye protection can keep your skin and eyes sufficiently shielded against splashes of product.
If you experience any irritation or reactions to the product, hop in the shower and wash away any residue. Make sure you call up your trusted family doctor, and stop using the product until you get advice from your physician.
Dry Up After Each Cleaning
One of the reasons why inflatable boats get dirty so quickly is because they’re stored before they’ve dried. After each cleaning, make sure you pat dry all of the surfaces, or leave the boat out in the open air to dry up before stuffing it into storage.
If you deflate your boat before storing, then folding it up with wet crevices and surfaces traps moisture and may cause mold, mildew, and foul odors to develop. That’s why storing a deflated boat might require more careful consideration especially when it comes to drying.
Keeping Your Inflatable Boat in Top Shape
Whether you’re just cleaning rib tubes or performing a full-on deep clean, it helps to have the right products on hand. These best inflatable boat cleaner formulations guarantee an easy experience that streamlines the entire maintenance process. But that doesn’t mean you can just wing it. Make sure you know what you’re buying by reading through the labels and familiarizing yourself with the specifics before you start spraying away to guarantee your safety and to achieve that brand new look and feel.