When it comes to tackling your most troublesome cleaning jobs on board, the internet is chock full of advice. Some tips are pure genius; others are downright dangerous. We set out to find some clever (and safe) solutions to five of your toughest challenges. While you shouldn’t discount commercial products, items you may already have on hand can serve up surprisingly good results, sometimes for less money. When it comes to getting out tough stains, your first responsibility is to do no harm. You don’t want to turn a molehill into a mountain, so we recommend, where possible, to contact the manufacturer of whatever item you want to clean to ask for advice. Read labels on all cleaning solutions carefully to ensure they’re safe for use on the surfaces you’re using them – and remember that formulas can change. Finally, test any product on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure there are no unexpected results.
Problem: Stains On Vinyl Cushions
Whether it’s stains from mildew or (ewww!) spider droppings, dirty vinyl looks bad and decreases your boat’s value.
Solution: OxiClean powder, or its generic equivalent, offers up great results for removing stains on vinyl. Mix according to the directions, and gently scrub with a nylon bristle brush. Let sit for five to 10 minutes, then rinse. You can also try cleaning tough spots with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Avoid using products containing bleach; they will break down the vinyl and stitching over time.
Prevention: Once the stains are gone and the material dry, finish with a sealer like 303 Aerospace Protectant.
Problem: Foggy Portlights
You clean your boat’s plastic portlights over and over, but they’re still hazy. The plastic is probably oxidized or scratched, so no amount of cleaner is going to cut it.
Solution: Clean the window using warm water with a squirt of mild dishwashing soap added. Then squeeze some toothpaste or Brasso onto a clean, soft lint-free cloth (an old cotton T-shirt works great) and rub it onto the surface of the portlight until the oxidation is removed. Wipe with a clean cloth. If necessary, use a plastic-safe cleaner to remove any residue.
Prevention: Avoid using glass cleaner (or anything that contains ammonia, alcohol, or solvents) or dry paper towels for cleaning plastic portlights. After removing the haze, follow up with a water-resistant spray, like Rain-X, to slow down future oxidation.