How to Clean Pontoon Boat Seats (Sweat, Water, Dirt Marks)

how to clean pontoon boat seats

Sweat, water, dirt, dust, and the elements - these are the contaminants mostly responsible for sucking the life out of your pontoon boat seats. No wonder they can look like a hot mess just a few months out of the showroom.

For many boat owners, seats prove to be one of the banes of cleaning. But that might just be because you’re not too keen on how to clean pontoon boat seats. Try this surefire way to get rid of stains and restore that showroom sheen to your vinyl boat seats.

What You’ll Need

Although you might have a few cleaning solutions in your home already, not all of them are safe to use on delicate vinyl. In fact, a lot of the cleaning products you might have at home probably won’t do your vinyl any good, causing more harm despite cleaning them of stains and discoloration.

That said, you’re going to want to buy the right cleaning solutions and tools to get the job done without damaging your seats. These include:

Mild Dish Soap

mild dish soap

Interestingly, dish soap is the cleaning solution of choice for vinyl pontoon boat seats. It’s mild enough to prevent damage, but provides just enough cleaning power to get rid of most stains.

We recommend the Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap.

Distilled Water

A lot of the stains on your boat seats are the result of minerals that accumulate on the material. Distilled water doesn’t contain any of these minerals, so it won’t add to the discoloration or stains the way that other types of water would.

Magic Eraser

magic eraser

Now this one is a bit of a last resort. If you’ve got serious, deep seated stains that won’t come out with traditional cleaning methods, then Magic Eraser should come in handy.

We like Mr Clean Magic Eraser.


If you’re out of options and you’re not keen on heading out to the store to buy cleaning agents, then you can rummage through the cupboard for some white vinegar. The acetic acid in the vinegar can help remove stains from vinyl in a snap (see our guide on cleaning boat seats with vinegar). 

Mold and Mildew Stain Remover

mold and mildew stain remover

This stuff comes in a convenient spray bottle and eats away at mold and mildew stains on vinyl. If your seats have black freckles that refuse to come out, this should be in your arsenal. Read the labels so you know you’re getting a formula that’s safe for cleaning vinyl boat seats.

Check out the Star Brite Mold & Mildew Remover.

Protectant Spray

protectant spray

No one wants to rub out stains every so often. Protectant spray adds a layer of protection (obviously) that helps prevent stains and discoloration for longer periods of time.

Try using the 303 Marine UV Protectant Spray for Boat Seats.

Soft Rags and Brushes

soft rags for cleaning boat seats

Hard bristles and abrasive rags can scuff the surface of your vinyl and make it easier for contaminants to nestle into nooks and crannies. Choose microfiber and soft bristle brushes for better results.

Super handy to have Mr Siga Microfiber Cleaning Cloth and a Soft Scrub Brush.

How to Clean Pontoon Boat Seats

Routine seat cleaning is a necessary part of boat maintenance. If your boat seats are looking a little tired and worn, or if it’s simply time for a cleaning, this process might be all you need:

Prepare your Mixture

Dilute 1/4 cup of dish soap in 1 gallon of water, or mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water. Place the mixture in a spray bottle and shake to make sure it’s fully combined.

Spray Generously

Spray your mixture generously across the surface of your boat seats. Try to pull away where the backrests meet the seats to really get into those hard-to-reach areas.

Leave it On

Wait 10 to 15 minutes for the solution to work its magic. You can wait a little longer if you feel that your seats might need the extra help.

Scrub with a Soft Brush

You can use a soft bristle toothbrush for small spots, or a larger soft bristle brush to clean up the entire seat surface. You might find small particles coming off of the seats during this step.

Wipe with a Clean Rag

Take your microfiber rag and wipe away any residue. Feel free to repeat the steps if you feel you could make your boat seats a little extra cleaner with a second cycle.

Spray with Protectant

Now that everything’s nice and clean, you can go ahead and spray with protectant. Make sure that your seats are dry before you do so that the solution can fully take effect.

For boat seats that are stained with mold and mildew, the above steps might not be enough to achieve the kind of clean you’re hoping for. In that case, you can try these steps:

Spray Mold and Mildew Remover

Mold and mildew remover dissolves black stains while making it easier for your cleaning products to do their job. Spray with mold and mildew remover, wait up to 15 minutes, and wipe away the residue.

Scrub Away

Use a soft bristle brush to work the mold and mildew remover into stains. Don’t worry if you don’t get all the dark spots out in one go. You can always repeat the process later.

Use Magic Eraser

If the stains just won’t give, you can try Magic Eraser. Work in small areas and avoid applying too much pressure since the stuff can be abrasive. Work into nooks and crannies to restore your seats’ original color and finish.

Wipe Away the Residue

Take your microfiber cloth and wipe off the little particles that came off with the Magic Eraser. See to it that your seats are dry when you’re done.

Spritz with Protectant

Same as routine cleaning, the last step for mold and mildew stain removal would be protectant. Give a generous spray and make sure you get into those hard-to-reach areas.

Bright and Shiny

Before you consider replacing your pontoon boat seats, try cleaning them first. That vinyl upholstery can last for years with the right kind of care and routine cleaning. Make sure to keep these steps on how to clean pontoon boat seats in handy so you can maintain your vinyl and postpone that expensive replacement until it’s absolutely necessary.

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