How to Clean Boat Seats?

Learning how to clean boat seats and how to keep them that way can, unfortunately, get much trickier when compared to car seats. Not only will you work with different materials, but you also have to take the nature and condition of the boat into account for the process.

On a positive note, having clean boat seats will actually come off easy as long as you know the right methods and resources. This is what we can help you with in this article. We will walk you through everything that you need to know in the following sections. These include the necessary details before, during, and after the cleaning process.

What to Do Before Cleaning Your Boat Seats

To start, let us walk you through the things that you should do before cleaning your boat seats. In this stage, your goal is to know what you need to prepare for the actual process later on.

Here is a checklist that you can use as a guide for this stage:

1. Figure out the grade of vinyl material used in your boat seats.

More often than not, boat seats are made of vinyl, both as a base material and cover. Specifically, you will be dealing with marine vinyl because of key qualities like being water-resistant and UV-resistant.

If this is the case for you, then you should find out the specific grade used in your seats. This is important because this is where factors like the material’s sensitivity, suitable cleaning agents and method, and basically the whole process will depend on.

Note that if for some reason, you have boat seats in a different kind of material other than marine vinyl, your first step should first lie in figuring out what was used in place.

2. Check the current condition of your boat seats.

Apart from the material, you should also check the current state of your boat seats. This will let you know if it only needs cleaning or you have to go through some additional repairs before you can proceed to the process.

Some things to spot in your seats include tears, mold, mildew, stains, and other related issues. Cleaning will solve most of these aside from physical damages on seats.

3. Collect the necessary cleaning supplies.

You should also start collecting the cleaning supplies that will be needed in the process. These include the cleaning agents, brush, damp cloth, and a water source. These may still vary depending on the specific process that you used.

Of course, you don’t have to do all these if you hire a professional. If you have the budget to opt for this, then nothing is stopping you from availing of their services. However, it won’t hurt if you know how to do these things by yourself. Going through the process at least once will let you take care of your boat better.

Different Boat Seat Cleaning Methods

Now, let’s talk about the different methods of how to clean boat seats. Here are your options:

1. Soap and Water Method

The soap and water method is probably the easiest option out of the bunch. Here, you will need:

  • Dishwasher/Soap/Any kind of soap-based cleaning agent
  • Water Source
  • Brush
  • Cloth (Dry or damp)

To do this, mix your soap cleaner with warm water in a container. A bucket is preferable. After that, use your brush and gently scrub the seats with the soap-water mix. You can leave the solution on for about 5 minutes or you can rinse it immediately using plain water. Afterward, get a cloth to dry out the seats.

2. Using a Vinyl Cleaner

Investing in special vinyl cleaners is a better and more effective method if you have the budget.

The process of application will differ from brand to brand since some of them are similar to the soap and water method that needs rinsing, some only need to be wiped with a clean cloth, and others are leave-on cleaning agents. Make sure that you read the instructions of the specific cleaner you got before using it to ensure your seats’ safety.

3. Sunscreen and Water Method

Applying sunscreen is also a good way to clean your boat seats. However, since it’s impractical to pour sunscreen on boats rather than on skin (where it’s supposed to be) because it’s expensive, then this will only be best used for stubborn stains. These include pen marks, inks, and likes.

When using this method, put sunscreen on stains and then scrub it gently. Rinse it thoroughly with warm water afterward.

On a more important note, use sunscreens that don’t have Avobenzone. This ingredient can cause unlikely reactions to your vinyl seats.

Make sure that you have considered the factors we discussed in the pre-cleaning stage before choosing the specific cleaning method to go through.

How to Keep Your Boat Seats Clean

Before we wrap it up, below is a list of some tips on how to keep your boats clean after cleaning:

  • Don’t use power washers, especially high-intensity ones. These can damage your seat’s coating and wash off the vinyl’s resistance to UV and water.
  • Never use bleach as a quick cleaning remedy. Not only will this fade your vinyl’s current color, but it also has a high chance of damaging your seats.
  • Invest in protective seat covers and use them even when the boat is not in use.
  • Avoid adhesive removers. These are also too strong for even the highest grade of marine vinyl.
  • Run water on seats and wipe them every after use. Doing this will prevent dirt and other issues from building up.

Apply these tips every time you use your boat. Doing so will lessen its need for frequent cleaning, and consequently, faster degradation of your seats’ quality.


As you can see, cleaning boat seats can be time-consuming. It will require effort and even money on your part.

However, once you are fully acquainted with the details we discussed above, you can rest assured that you’re now knowledgeable on how to clean boat seats. If this happens, then the overall process will be simple enough.

Additionally, make sure that you don’t stop at the cleaning process. You should proceed to complete maintenance activities periodically. Even regular dusting will already go a long way. Doing so will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.