Keeping boat tops clean can be a daunting task, depending greatly on the normal areas of storage/docking.
Due to size and weight most boat tops can not be tossed into a washing machine. This really is a good thing as most washing detergents and machines would be very harsh on the material. Different materials can also require different cleaning approaches. Cleaning your boat top and treating the material can extend the life of your tops.
As I have recommended, I believe it is best to clean your top while on your boat, please be mindful of where your boat is. We do not want you cleaning your boat at the dock and putting possible harmful chemicals into the water. Remember, that is the eco system that you are enjoying by being a boater, so plan ahead and protect it. Where seasons change, most people scrub their tops down before the season, though best to do at the end – however weather may not be on your side. Where you can, make sure your boat is out of and away from the water when cleaning. If this is not possible then please remove your tops, find a place to hang them away from the water body and give them a good cleaning there. Return them to your boat to dry and apply treatment.
Cleaning Solutions I have used:
Spot Cleaning : 50% Water, 25% Vinegar, 25% Borax
Over-All cleaning : 20 liters of warm water, ½ Cup of dish detergent.
Products I recommend:
As the large percentage of boat tops out there are made with Sunbrella material or an equivalent material, I recommend the products produced by 303. We stock, sell and use 303 Fabric Cleaner, 303 Vinyl Cleaner.
Treatments: I recommend nothing but 303 Fabric Guard. Restore UV protection and water proofing.
** Always best to read up on the material type your top was made with. This is not always clearly stated on your top, but your top builder should be able to tell you right away.**
Many people park their boats in the shade thinking that they are helping them. This is a myth. Your boat top material was designed for direct sunlight. Parking in the shade will prolong dampness in the boat, resulting mold. Mold likes damp and dark to grow. Under a tree — cleaning will only get worse. That green mold “Lichens” that grow on the tree trunks, will grow on your top and hulls. This stuff is not easy to get off and all and can quickly break down your canvas top.
You or the boat owner before you, paid good money for the top that you have. When taken care of properly it should provide at least 10 years of use…. We see many that are pushing 20 years of use.
Storage of the top… well that will be another topic and one that many have opinions on.
Rugged Recreation and AK Boat Tops have been a top makers for 15 years. Trained at the Marine Canvas Institute in Palmetto, Florida, and have been boaters for 51 years. From Ontario, Canada – so some of our recommendations may not match those of Florida or further South. The differing climate here, creates other things to think about, where your warmer climates may require you to clean and protect on a more frequent basis.
Happy boating and safe waters.
To keep most tops, regardless of material type, clean – you need seven