12 Items You Need To Help You Clean Your Boat (Like a pro)

Cleaning and detailing your boat is a considerable project. Believe us, we live and breathe the detailing business daily and have worked as professional detailers (and still do!). But, having the right products and equipment will make boat detailing easier and less time consuming to create the type of head-turning outcomes you expect. Plus, using products that are scientifically formulated to break down dirt and create longer shine makes the jog more enjoyable.

From boats that need maintenance cleaning after daily trips, or for boats that have sat in the yard for months, it is essential to have a detailing kit on hand to help you maintain your boat’s beautiful appearance and stand up to marine performance. 

Rotary Polishers

DeWalt, FLEX, Makita and Rupes are top brands to consider regarding polishers for your boat detailing. Whether you are polishing paint or gel coats, a rotary polisher is a must-have tool in your detailing kit. Rotary polishers are used for compounding - a method of removing scuffs, swirl marks, scratches, and oxidation on a boat’s surface through heat, friction and utilizing an abrasive detailing chemical. We carry a number of rotary polishers for any and all boat detailing work. 

Orbital Polishers

An orbital polisher spins in one direction, while at the same time orbiting throughout the movement. This is a machine you would typically use after the compounding detail work to remove any holograms and scratches. Orbital polishers come with backing plate attachments in various sizes. Consider using the larger sized pads on big flat substrates to deliver more heat and friction (expect to pay a bit more, but well worth it given the larger surface coverage area). 

Foam Pads

Standard duty orbital pads will be used with polishes and finishing compounds to diminish and remove holograms and scratches. Higher end pads will come with con-caved dimples on the surface, which allows the pad to hold more of the polishing product on the pad. The lesser expensive pads will come with a flat surface and will certainly help you achieve the desired outcome but with more applications. We carry cutting and polishing pads by Lake Country and Buff and Shine that deliver the marine performance you expect. 

Cutting Compounds, Finishing & Polishing Compounds, Sealants 

Cutting compounds help you restore your gel coat or marine paint back to its former glory. The Level R product from Starke is the #1 selling cutting compound in its class, and boy does it deliver. In your detailing kit, you can also include a medium-level cutting compound like Elevate to follow up after your heavy cut compounding jobs. The next product in the kit is a good polish to help restore your boat’s glossy finish. Depending on how glossy you want your boat, you must include a sealant product like Starke Revolution, Hyper Hold or Hybrid Marine sealant to enhance the gloss and protect the boat from damaging elements. Call us on how to use these products with the appropriate pads: 

Pad Restore Spur Cleaner

The spur tool is your answer to revitalizing and getting longer life out of your polishing compounds and buffing pads. The purpose of the spur cleaner is to break apart any hardened bits of product remaining on your pads. The tool does a great job at fluffing up the fibers of your pads getting them ready for their next use. Overall, the spur cleaner is a great little investment for revitalizing your pads and extending their lifetime value. 

Engine Compartment Degreasers

Degreasers are cleaning agents and solutions used to remove oily,  greasy particles from the surface of boats, as well as engine compartments. Follow up a degreaser with a standard cleaning product to ensure a deep clean finish. 

Glass Cleaner

If there are glass parts in your boat, you need a glass cleaner in your boat detailing kit. A standard surface cleaner is not sufficient to clean the glass surfaces. A glass cleaner is specially made to clean the glass surface without any scratches or marks. It contains chemicals capable of removing stains from glass. 

Hard water Spot Remover

Boats and yachts suffer splashes of hard water and salt water that bring mineral deposits to their surfaces. Mineral deposits and superficial dirt require special cleaners known as hard water spot removers. Get a hard water spot cleaner to clean your boat areas that have mineral deposits and hard water spots. Be careful when using these cleaners as most of them have acids in them that can cause further damage and create more work in the future.

High-Suction Vacuum Cleaner

There are some areas on boats and yachts which you cannot access with brushes, no matter how long the handles. They cannot reach some corners and edges in tight compartments or within the engine room. For such areas, you need a high-suction vacuum with a long thin nozzle to reach those hard-to-get places. 

PVA Towel “Synthetic Shammy”

The PVA towel is a must-have for boat detailers and DIYers. It absorbs 50% more water than ordinary towels, making it an excellent tool for wiping wet surfaces. PVA towels are mold-resistant and leave minimal residue or streaks on the surface while drying the boat. Made with durable PVA material, the chamois towel works like a hyper-absorbant sponge soaking up water fast and effortlessly. 

Microfiber Cleaner Cloth

The microfiber cleaning cloth is made of non-scratching microfibers that are gentle on all surfaces. They can be used in all aspects of detailing, from removing heavy cut compound, to removing the excess solvents left behind by a ceramic coating. The microfibers have an ultra-absorbent capacity that catches dust and absorbs water. In addition, microfiber cleaners are machine washable and reusable. 

A Good Hose and/or a Pressure Washer

Pressure washers and standard water hoses with adjustable nozzle sprayers will help you remove top-layer surface dirt. In most cases, a standard hose will do the trick, as pressure washers, if not used in the right manner, can damage surfaces with their powerful sprays. In our opinion, a standard garden hose with a functional nozzle will remove the easy-to-get-to dirt and dust, as well as cleaner suds.

The Conclusion

The boating detail kit explained above will provide a great start for any DIYer or beginner detail professional. For more information on some of the items mentioned in this article or if you have questions about setting up the perfect boat detailing kit, send us a message at info@starkeyachtcare.com, or give us a call: 800.203.5315.

May 20, 2022 — John TenBrink