7 Ways to Remove Mildew From Boat Seats

Despite our hundreds of efforts to maintain and keep our boat seats as new as possible, mildew always finds a way to destroy our boat aesthetics, don’t they? Panicky and in search of solutions to remove the mildew – the struggle is real!

Given constant moisture exposure, even the slightest of carelessness can result in mold growth. To your rescue, we’ve got all the solutions for you. Find more information on how to clean vinyl boat seats and various homemade mildew cleaner recipes in this post. Let’s begin!

How To Clean Vinyl Boat Seats of Mildew?

1.   Wipe away dirt:

Wipe away dirt

Start your mildew mitigation mission by cleaning the stained area. Wipe away any debris, dirt, or chunks using a microfiber cloth. You can use a wet cloth or tissue to lightly clean the surface before you begin spraying the mildew removal solution.

2.   Spray the mildew removal solution:

Spray the mildew removal solution

If you have a store-bought mildew cleanser, that’s great! And, if you have DIYed homemade mildew removal solution, that’s great too. Spray the solution to the fungus-affected area and leave it to work for the time recommended on the label.

If you’re using a DIY solution, make sure you ask the recipe owner to educate you on the contact time for the solution to work. Read on to find out the recipes for 4 easy and amazing homemade mildew removal for boat cleansings solutions.

3.   Scrub the affected area:

Scrub the affected area

Remember that if your cleansing solution is strong enough, you don’t have to waste too much time scrubbing the stain. Use a soft-bristled brush, a sponge, or a microfiber towel to perform this step without harming the integrity of your vinyl boat seats.

If the mildew stain doesn’t go away easy, never make the mistake of switching onto a harsher scrubbing material or scrubbing too vigorously, as it only damages your seat. Instead, repeat the cleansing process if necessary.

4.   Wipe the debris using a microfiber cloth:

Wipe the debris using a microfiber cloth

Now, if the cleansing has resulted in any debris, wipe the area with a microfiber towel. If the stain is gone, rinse the area with clean water and pat it dry.

5.   Recheck and repeat:

Recheck and repeat

On the other hand, if the stain still persists, feel free to repeat the process 2 – 3 times as per necessity. Follow the process meticulously, but remember what we’ve mentioned before – do not exert more force and harshness than your vinyl seats can handle.

6.   Magic erasers to your rescue!

Magic erasers to your rescue

If your goal of making your old mildew-stain vinyl boat seats look like a new one looks too far from your grab, you can always turn to the last resort – magic eraser!

Many boat owners vouch for this product and rave about how cleaning boat seats with a magic eraser is easy and functional. Let us know how it works for you!

7.   Don’t discount on vinyl protectants:

Don’t discount on vinyl protectants

Once you’re done with the mildew cleansing process and are happy with the results, it’s time for a good-quality vinyl protectant spray to prevent future mildew growth. Furthermore, commercial vinyl protectants are formulated to protect your boat seats from UV damage.

Homemade vinyl cleaner for boat seats:

No doubt, commercial vinyl cleaners, especially if they are devoid of bleach, are one of the best treatments for mildew on your boat seats.

Nevertheless, if you do not wish to spend on commercial products right away and want to try out DIY mildew cleaners first, here are 4 trustworthy homemade vinyl cleaners for boat seats.

1.   Mild dish soap:

Mild dish soap

Catching the mildew issue in your vinyl boat interior early on might be one of the best things you can do to keep the aesthetics of your boat seats intact. New mildew stains require little to no effort for removal.

Simply dissolve a few drops of dish soap into warm water and scrub the mildew-stained area with a sponge or a soft-bristled brush. If the mildew issue on your boat isn’t old and chronic, this homemade solution is likely to take care of the problem within minutes.

2.   Alcohol and laundry detergent:

Alcohol and laundry detergent

If your boat seat mildew stains look like they deserve much more harshness than the mild dish soap, feel free to proceed to this DIY which involves the use of laundry detergent and alcohol.

Make a laundry detergent solution by adding a cup of the detergent to half a liter of water. Wet the mildew-stained area with this solution and leave it to work for around 10 – 15 mins.

Again, wet the area with the cleaning solution and scrub the area with a microfiber towel or a soft-bristled brush. If the stubborn stains still remain, proceed to make a 50% alcohol solution by mixing equal parts of alcohol into water. Scrub the area with this solution and rinse it with clean water.

3.   Vinegar solution:

Vinegar solution

Vinegar is definitely one of the most common ingredients when it comes to kitchen DIY cleansers. What’s more, it seems like even boat owners can benefit from this star ingredient.

Make a 50% vinegar solution with water and spray it into the affected area. Leave the solution to work for about an hour. Also, remember not to let the solution dry and if it does, spray some more into the area. Once done, scrub the area and clean it with fresh water.

4.   Borax solution:

Borax solution

To DIY a borax boat seat mildew cleaner, mix ½ cup of borax with 2 cups of warm water. To preclude yourself from damaging the vinyl, always remember to use a soft scrub brush.

The contact time for this DIY cleansing solution is 15 minutes. If the stain doesn’t go away the first time, repeat the process one more time and this time, leave the solution a bit longer than 15 minutes.

Should You Use Bleach To Remove Mildew From Boat Seats?

Whenever there are dirt, stain, or mildew issues on the boat, it is only human to think of bleach as an overall solution. If you’re thinking about it now, well, get rid of it.

While bleach might temporarily solve your mildew issue, it does more harm than good to your boat setas in the long run. It removes the oils in the vinyl covers, which leads to reduced water resistance and more moisture issues such as mildew problems later on.

Moreover, bleach combined with sunlight causes the stitched threads in the upholstery to disintegrate. Overall, just remember that using bleach to remove mildew on boat seats is a big no-no!

How To Prevent Mildew On Boat Seats?

How To Prevent Mildew On Boat Seats

1.   Wipe the seats after sailing:

Moisture is one of the most common culprits when it comes to the formation of molds and mildew. Therefore, always remember to wipe your seats with a moisture-absorbing cloth after each sail.

You might not realize any moisture presence, but it is always a good idea to be proactive than to be sorry. Also, reach out to the cracks and crevices with the cloth to make sure your entire boat seats are as dry as possible.

2.   Use a mildew prevention spray for boats:

As much as you try to outsmart mildew growth, sooner or later, you’re bound to encounter them. So, coating your boat interior with mildew-resistant sprays is always a good idea.

If you have recently bought a brand-new boat or you’re looking forward to cleaning and protecting an old one, using mildew prevention sprays, while not 100% effective, can mitigate your mildew-related issues significantly.

3.   Take care of your boats during storage:

Many boat fanatics forget that their boats still demand care and attention even if they are stored somewhere safe during off-seasons.

Furthermore, choose a good-quality boat cover that makes sure that your boat is well protected from harsh weather changes. Also, check in on your boat every once in a while to ensure there aren’t any moisture issues.

Mildew Keeps Coming Back – What To Do?

No matter how hard they cleanse your boat seats, many boat owners are tired of witnessing mildew outbreaks again and again. Unfortunately, mildew spores can be sneaky.

Even if you clean your boat seats thoroughly, there’s no doubt you’ll at least leave some spores behind. And, once your seats are exposed to moisture and humidity, these spores are bound to grow and trouble you.

Therefore, if you’re willing to clean boat interior fabric upholstery instead of replacing them, please feel free to do it.

But as the President of American Marine Canvas and Upholstery, Phillip Liberson has mentioned, you need to replace the entire seat foam and vinyl covering to get rid of repetitive mildew issues.


Mildew prevention needs religious cleaning and maintenance of your boat seats. Even if they form despite your effort, it’s not the end of the world. A simple homemade DIY cleansing solution will solve your issue. And, if you still notice any stubborn stains, magic eraser to your rescue!

Do you have any more queries regarding how to remove mildew from boat seats? If yes, feel free to leave your questions in the comment section.

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