9 Tips to Clean Aluminum Boat

So, your boat is in dire need of cleaning, huh? While you can often get away with rinsing your aluminum boat simply with fresh water, you must deep clean your boat using a commercial or a homemade aluminum cleaner every once in a while.

Yes, you read it right – we’ll guide you through the process of cleaning aluminum boats using vinegar in this post. Moreover, we’ll also share our knowledge with you on how to get rid of pitting in aluminum boats. Read on to find out 9 fantastic tips to clean your aluminum boat!

How to Clean Aluminum Boat

1.  Avoid a Sunny Day


Aluminum has high heat conductivity and therefore heats up pretty easily. That is also one of the reasons why aluminum is a commonly found metal when it comes to kitchen wares.

If your boat has been parked under a scorching sun for hours, it can get too hot even to touch; cleaning it is too far-fetched!

If you’re planning to clean your boat on a sunny day, make sure you park your boat in a shady area, if possible, for a couple of hours or cover it up with a tarp.

2.  Safety comes first!


While there isn’t any poisonous ingredient that you have to play with on your aluminum boat cleaning routine, many commercial cleansers can often be a little too harsh for your hands.

Even if you’re simply using laundry detergent to wash your boat or in the case when you use steel wool to clean stubborn patches, it would be best if you protect your hands with a pair of gloves.

3.  A power washer is a critical tool


Always make sure that you’re cleaning your aluminum boat in an area where you can access clean, fresh water for your power washer. A power washer is a great boat cleaning tool.

It is neither recommended nor necessary to use an expensive aluminum boat cleaner for your routine boat cleaning. Simply spray the with a power wash, use a good quality soap, and let it soak for 5-10 minutes.

Remember that you shouldn’t let the soap dry on your aluminum boat surface, as it simply adds an extra layer of grime you need to put effort into cleaning up. Finally, power wash your boat hull from top to bottom and wipe it and let it dry.

4.  Start with a regular car/boat soap hot water solution for deep cleaning


Firstly, your target must be to remove accumulated dirt and big debris from your boat. Prepare a hot water soap solution or use a good quality car wash.

Scrub any stain or patches you notice. You don’t need to double down your scrubbing effort right away as you’ll be later cleaning the spot again using a dedicated cleaner.

5.  Dilute you’re aluminum cleaning solution:


There are commercially available cleansers that are specifically intended to clean aluminum. But remember that these cleansers aren’t intended for you to use concentrated on your boat.

Read the manual and dilute the product according to how deep a cleaning your boat requires. In general, these cleaners are recommended to be diluted by a factor of 3 or 4.

Apply this cleaner to any patches you notice and scrub them lightly. Feel free to scrub the stains using steel wool over your non-painted boat aluminum surface if they are stubborn.

Finally, feel free to end by applying aluminum polish after buffing in order to remove minor imperfections such that you get a shiny finish on your aluminum boat.

6.  Vinegar works wonders too!


Yes, vinegar might be one of the praised ingredients in your kitchen recipes. But only true DIY lovers are aware of the fact that vinegar is also a fantastic ingredient when it comes to DIY cleaning recipes.

If you’re looking to bring back the shine to your aluminum boat without any use of harsh abrasive tools or expensive commercial cleaning products, vinegar is the perfect candidate for you!

Prepare a 50 % vinegar solution by mixing vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio. The solution is believed to be the most efficient when prepared in warm water and fresh, possibly distilled water. Never make the mistake of using sea or lake water that is high in saline content to clean your boat.

Spray the mixture onto your vessel using a water sprayer and let the solution sit for around a minute. Finally, wipe your boat using a clean and moist piece of a soft cloth.

If the stains and dullness in some areas in the boat persist, try making a vinegar-baking soda paste by mixing one part vinegar with three parts soft baking soda. Use this paste as a spot treatment and scrub it onto the area using a scrubber brush.

Reminder – it would be best if you don’t expect vinegar to work as a miracle cleanser. It is only best for water stains, dirt, and mild cleansing and won’t probably work against stubborn mold and mildew and years-old stains.

Once that is done, make sure you thoroughly clean the area with a boat soap or a car soap and rinse with fresh water. Cleaning an aluminum boat with vinegar is truly an ingenious hack!

7.  Use a cleaner wax to clean your painted aluminum boat


A painted aluminum boat, like any other painted surface, needs utter care during cleaning and maintenance. The use of abrasive sponges, steel wool, and harsh cleaners to clean off stains and water marks is a big No-No!

Instead, use a cleaner was to clean your painted aluminum boat. 25% vinegar solution is also effective in removing water stains from the painted hull.

In case of stubborn mildew stains, feel free to use paint-friendly commercial cleaners, but make sure that you don’t leave the cleaner for long, as it might disintegrate and damage your boat paint. Nevertheless, factory paints on aluminum boats are relatively more resistant to cleaners.

In case of minor scratches and imperfections, use the best polish for painted aluminum boats commercially available for a fabulous result.

8.  Removing pitting from your aluminum boat:


If your aluminum boat has corroded and you notice any small holes formed due to depassivation on the hull or the bottom, you’ll have to put in more effort than in cleaning a sleek and smooth aluminum hull. You have to use abrasive tools in order to remove corrosion from your hull.

  • Dry sanding:

The first method you can follow is dry sanding. Start by dry sanding using 200-400 grit sandpaper, followed by lower grit paper. In the case of deep pits, use even higher grit sandpaper.

Always finish your sanding session by using finer grit sandpapers in the end for a smooth finish.

  • Wet sanding:

Wet sanding is superior to dry sanding in the aspect that it produces less corrosion dust, and the sandpaper doesn’t clog as often as it does in the case of dry sanding. You will, however, need to purchase the sandpaper designated for wet sanding, as dry sanding grit paper will fall apart.

Just as in the dry sanding, start by sanding with coarser git papers 200-400, followed by 600-800 finer grit paper final sanding.

  • Using a razor blade:

If sanding doesn’t seem like a good fit, use a razor blade to scrape off the damaged area on the aluminum boat lightly.

Finally, wipe off all the debris, buff, and finally, apply a good-quality aluminum polish for minor covering minor imperfections and future protection.

9.  Wax for protection:


Waxing adds an extra layer on top of your boat paint, thus, preventing your boat from fading and discoloration due to UV rays. While almost all of us agree that waxing our boats for protection helps us maintain its newness for long, the internet’s opinion on how often to wax your boat varies.

Boat waxing not only keeps your boat color preserved and pristine but also protects your boat exterior from salt breakdown, corrosion, and unwanted marine growth and buildups.

Having said that, wax isn’t a permanent solution to these issues, and routine protection, cleaning, and repairs are equally, if not more, important in order to keep your boat well-maintained and shiny.

Some say that you wax your boat every three to four months, some say once a month is a better routine, and many believe that waxing your boat after every cleaning session is a must.

You can decide the appropriate timing and frequency of your boat waxing depending on how often and for how long you use the boat. In case of confusion, seek for manufacturer’s guideline or contact a local boat expert for advice.


This post is not just a ‘9 tips on how to clean an aluminum boat’ post, but you can use it as a complete guide to figure out your boat cleaning process.

If you have any insights and experiences you’d like to share with us regarding aluminum boat cleaning, we’d be more than happy to hear from you. And in case of any queries, feel free to drop your questions down below!

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