Top 4 Tips For Cleaning Marine Vinyl Interior

Should I be careful when cleaning my boat?

Yes. Yes, yes and yes. You probably read our article on how to Bring Your Boat Interior Back to New, where we reminded you of the acronym B.O.A.T. ... But our Color Glo Specialists wanted to make sure you know the Top 4 Tips for keeping your boat interior in good shape. 

You work hard to buy a boat and work harder to keep your boat looking good. You routinely put it in and take it out of the water, wash it, apply wax, and do your best to ensure it remains the boat of your dreams. Then it happens; one of our friends (hopefully invited) spills their adult beverage all over your well-kept carpeting, or they spill a cleaner or bleach on our vinyl seats and seams. 

Proud boat owners know this feeling well and have learned to keep their watercraft "in the family" due to it. Boat ownership is exhausting as much as it is rewarding, so we thought we give you a few more tips on how to ensure your work pays off in the end. 

Check your grades of marine vinyl.

Vinyl upholstery fabrics come in different grades, but this grade does not reflect fabric quality; it refers to the price it cost to make the fabric. You cannot find consistency in the vinyl fabric grading process because each manufacturer sets its own grades, much like tire manufacturers rate tires for speed without government or industry standards. So buyer beware...

 Some boat interiors take a little more "TLC" than others...

Some boat interiors take a little more "TLC" than others...

Price grades range from "A" to "F," with the "F" grade representing the pricier fabrics. Rather than selecting vinyl upholstery fabrics by grade, choose the type of vinyl upholstery material you need according to its intended use.

Marine grade vinyl is a type of vinyl that you should want in your vessel to withstand time, torture, and sun. The problem is that not all boats come with it. Check your sales guy.

Cleaning your vinyl the right way

You might be tempted to spray bleach on your boat interior seats or use other harsh chemicals to try and mitigate some crude. JUST SAY NO. 


Brenda from Great Lakes Color Glo in Michigan give us the scoop on great marine interior cleaning advice. 

The process can be very simple if you take the time maintain your boat after each and every use. Just remember these quick tips. 

  • Clean off the vinyl with a damp cloth first, removing salt, grime, dirt, and other debris.
  • Apply a thin layer of Vinyl cleaning material, such as the Color Glo Vinyl Clean that Brenda recommended above. 
  • Rinse with fresh water, dry, and repeat as needed.

If you have deep mildew stains or other mold problems from improper care, a good firm brush may be needed along with a water/ammonia solution to break up the mildew growth. 

How about UV protection?

Today, its a sales benefit as many people are aware they need UV protection - not only on their vinyl but our skins and everything else in our lives. The sun will beat your marine interior down and chew it up. So the question to ask is simply this:

Does my boat interior come with a high-grade vinyl that has UV protectant manufactured in?

If they answer is yes, then you're in really good shape by the time you've gotten to this question. If it doesn't, it's not the end of the world. You can still have high-quality interiors but have to use a Color Glo product to ensure your vibrant boat colors stay in check. Just contact your local Color Glo Specialist for advice. 

Choose your personal UV block with caution!

What you put on yourself will transfer to your precious craft. Choose your sunscreens and sun oils wisely as some will stain or leave oily marks in your vinyl, which can be very difficult to remove. In today's market of more health-conscious consumers, your options for organic products, oil and paraben-free products and creams that boast not being greasy are numerous. 

Choose wisely for the health of your skin and your boat's skin.

Lastly... Vinyl seats and covers on your boat are susceptible to drying, fading, and cracking. The sun, water, and regular wear and tear all age vinyl very quickly. Any vinyl on or in your boat should be regularly cleaned and protected to maintain it over the service life of our boat. 

The worst enemy to vinyl is extended exposure to the sun's rays and dirt and grime/sand/dirt build-up. UV rays from the sun fade and dry vinyl out. Dirt and grime retain moisture on the surface and together cause the protective topcoat on vinyl to deteriorate, cause mildew or other mold problems. 

The best advice we can give is to treat the boat like your own body. You clean it every day (hopefully) and brush your teeth. After every use of your boat, bring its livelihood back to new by brushing off seats and rinsing them, cleaning the interiors and exteriors and storing it with a cover to protect it from the elements. 

Happy Boating!