Spring Boat Care

April 2006 News

When you think about your boat, chances are cleaning it isn't one of the first things on your mind. But a clean boat will look better longer and help maintain its value, according to George Varga of Swobbit Products, manufacturer of Swobbit and First Mate cleaning and maintenance accessories.


"There's no shortage of boat cleaning products on the market," Varga says. "It's a good idea to follow your boat manufacturer's recommendations and care instructions. Some boat finishes have specific care requirements."


1. Establish a routine cleaning program. Rinse your boat after each use and remember to dry it off. Take a few minutes to dry off morning dew or after a hard rain when possible. During your most active boating times, wash your boat at least weekly.


2. Choose your cleaning tools wisely. There are plenty of products on the market and some will be better suited for your boat than others. Compare product features. Look for well-built tools that'll last and hopefully make quick work of dirty jobs.


The handle is the most important product in any cleaning system. Look for a sturdy handle that adjusts easily and is comfortable to hold. The handle becomes an extension of your arm and will be subject to torque and pressure. Keep in mind it may see double duty as a boat hook or push pole, so it must be strong.


Choose the right brush for your cleaning application. Note that some paint finish manufacturers don't even recommend using a brush. Use a softer brush than you think you need. The brush head should be made of durable UV stable material that's not affected by moisture, chemicals or a salty environment.


Drying your boat after washing will eliminate spotting. Look for drying mops and cloths made from absorbent materials like PVA (holds up to 5x its weight in liquid) and products that remove water quickly without stripping wax. Opt for mops featuring wide strips of material (chamois work on surface area) - wider strips save time since they absorb more. Use squeegees made from silicone that have flexible blades. Silicone doesn't wear away or leave marks like rubber can. Avoid metal squeegees for obvious reasons.


3. Roll up your sleeves. When you're ready to clean make sure you have everything you need. Must haves include a hose (long enough to reach all areas of your boat) with plastic spray nozzle. A telescoping handle, brush or washing pad, a drying mop, chamois or squeegee and a couple of towels (for spot cleaning). You'll need a good quality boat soap** and a bucket that's large enough for your brush. Depending on the quality of your dock water, a portable wash down system may be a good investment. Soft water reduces spotting and your cleaning time.


Never scrub a dry finish! Rinse the area first to loosen and remove dirt and debris. Always wash from the top down, washing small sections and then rinsing. Don't soap down the entire side of your boat in direct sunlight, it might dry before you can rinse it off. Some boaters wash and dry a section before moving on - a good practice on larger boats.


**A note on soaps - Choose a neutral pH, biodegradable and environmentally friendly soap. Read and follow the recommended usage on the label - more is not better! Avoid dish detergents and high alkaline soaps. Many have grease-cutting agents that strip wax. Be careful when using "super concentrated" products. High concentrations of cleaning agents will strip your wax finish and can attack and damage finishes if left on for too long.


For more information visit www.swobbit.com.

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