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bradleyheathhays 05-22-2015 03:40 AM

Best spray on / spray off deck cleaner for sailboats
What's the most effective spray on / spray off deck cleaner for sailboats? Possibly something sold as an RV cleaner. Up til now I've been pressure washing a couple times a year but wagging that thing down to the dock has become a real pain. Plus I'm learning it's probably a little too harsh for the boat as well.


Auzzee 05-22-2015 06:27 PM

Hi Bradley and welcome to the crew. The material which your deck is made from is important. I assume it is not teak as pressure washing teak is a no-no.
There is no need to buy specialist cleaners. I find the most important tool for cleaning fibreglass or painted decks is the correct broom. You need a fairly soft bristle, densely packed and quite long. This is one from WM (WEST MARINE Admiral Deck Brush Kit | West Marine), there are similar ones available from Lowes or Home Depot for less money ( If you match this broom with ordinary dishwashing liquid mixed into in warm water, most of the grubby stuff will disappear. Occasionally, in Dollar Stores and such, you will find 2 gallon containers of cheap shampoo. This is a good substitute for, and doesn't lather as much as, dish washing liquid.If you want something tougher, use a motorbike cleaner. But, if you do, make sure you are ready with the hose when the water-detergent mix spills from the scuppers as there is every likelihood that they will leave clean drip marks down the topsides.
Try to avoid anything containing bleach. If you get to your boat to find that pelican poo or similar has concreted on the deck, the best procedure is to use an old towel, soak it in water, then pour a little oil based disinfectant (Dettol is my choice for cleaning and de-crapping) onto the poo and cover it with the wet cloth. Then comes the most important part, and, it must be said, the part which cannot be avoided if you want the job to be done properly. Sit in the cockpit and drink at least three beers with a bag of crisps, or two cups of coffee with a packet of biscuits (or cookies if that is where you come from). Then check the poo. If it hasn't softened enough to be brushed off, prep the area again and leave it overnight.
Just a word on Dettol. It is an excellent, hospital grade disinfectant. But it is also a powerful cleaner. It has long been used for cleaning office equipment, plastics with grubby marks on, and it is great for removing spray polish and muck from interior timberwork, prior to reapplying a lovely smelling coat of Lemon Pledge. In my cleaning arsenal I have Dettol, Washing up liquid, bicarbonate of soda and ammonia. I find I need little more.
Hope this helps
PS. If you need a little abrasive mix, try using straight salt water before using bi-carb or the wonderful Barman's Friend (Or Ajax or Jiff). Often the salt in seawater is sufficient with a used Scotch Brite pad to abrade gunk off smooth surfaces without leaving scuff marks.

steve_h 05-27-2015 10:04 AM

Sounds like it is almost worth having Pelican poo on your boat :)

Auzzee 05-27-2015 12:48 PM

If only it was just a little flexible.......

redbopeep 05-31-2015 12:49 AM

We just use Simple Green, a scrub brush on a broom stick and a bit of elbow grease ;) If you do it often enough it stays clean.

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