Cleaning a pontoon boat regularly is one of the most key components to avoiding long-term damage to your boat. The easiest time to do so is when it’s out of the water – typically, the end and beginning of the summer season. If dirt and mildew are allowed to build up on the exterior (and interior!) of the boat, it can cause permanent harm to all surfaces. Cleaning a pontoon boat is a multi-step process, but in the end, it’s all about patience and using the correct cleaning solutions for each surface.
Clean the Pontoon Exterior
You have to start somewhere – might as well start with the part of the boat likely to get the dirtiest. A pontoon boat’s exterior, which is more exposed to the elements may be hard to clean in some places but it is still important to take your time and be thorough.
Your boat’s pontoons are the part of the boat that is perhaps most exposed to potential buildup from the surrounding environment. Cleaning pontoon tubes, no matter if they’re pontoon vs tritoon construction, will require a specialized boat cleaner if there’s a lot of visible grime or oxidation. Start with a freshwater rinse with a bucket and sponge, then move to the cleaner if there’s spots that need more attention.
Pontoon side panels are susceptible to similar issues as the pontoon’s tubes, although often not to the same degree as they’re not fully below the waterline. It’s good practice to treat the fencing and side panels with similar care to the tubes, with a soapy rinse to start and a specialty cleanser for tougher spots.
Some luxury pontoons have fiberglass exteriors as opposed to the typical aluminum. Since fiberglass is more prone to absorbing dirt and scratching than other materials, you may want to be slightly gentler when cleaning. A soft brush or cloth along with some soapy freshwater will usually get the job done, though there are specific fiberglass cleaners and solvents that can help make the process a little easier. Additionally, it’s recommended to wax or treat fiberglass components with a ceramic coating once every season.
Cleaning boat engines is an important step! Such an important part needs to be in tip-top shape. This means cleaning the exterior, removing any buildup of grease, but also taking care of the inner workings. The idea is to do all you can to stave off corrosion or damage of any kind by hooking up a freshwater supply to the engine and flushing it properly. Consult your owner’s manual for detailed instructions based on your individual boat.
Clean the Pontoon Interior
Since pontoons have such wide, flat decks, cleaning it can be somewhat time consuming but also very intuitive. The furniture and carpet of the pontoon’s interior will require a similar style of care to furnishings indoors, although the level will be somewhat heightened due to the boat’s consistent exposure to the elements. In general, it’s a good idea to keep a mild cleaner and some rags on board at all times for unexpected messes in between dedicated cleanings.
Pontoon Boat Seats
Since they’ll get so much use, it’s key to be on top of cleaning boat seats. Wiping them down before and after every use will keep them looking fresh, especially if they’ve been smeared with sunscreen, gotten wet or otherwise been dirtied. If there’s a more intense stain, a mild soap or a vinyl or fabric cleaner will likely help get it out. If your boat seats have covers that can be removed and safely laundered, that is also an excellent step.
Any part of the pontoon deck that is not made of a fabric material can likely be cleaned with soapy freshwater, like the components of the exterior. It’s okay to be gentler with them and just make sure you’re taking care of any visible stains or buildup.
Cleaning the helm should be similar to wiping down a car’s dashboard. If it’s done often, it will keep dust and debris from becoming caked on, especially if you take off water spots. A mild multipurpose cleaner and some rags should be enough to keep it clean. A dedicated microfiber for electronics will keep your expensive displays free from scratches and solvents.
Many pontoons these days have a carpeted interior. While most of these fabrics are designed and treated to be more durable than indoor carpeting, as well as stain and mold resistant, cleaning it regularly will avoid a mildewy smell and other staining issues. To clean a boat carpet, it’s generally good practice to keep a small, handheld vacuum on board to get at small spills. For larger cleans, a full vacuum of the carpet or, in some cases, a low-pressure power wash will get any tougher grime out.
Polish Your Pontoon to Finish
For a lot of people, one of the best parts of having a clean boat isn’t just that it’s clean and free of potential damage – it’s that it looks clean. If you want to preserve this shiny look, polish might be a great extra step. And if you don’t know how to polish pontoons, don’t worry, because it’s relatively simple. All you need is a polisher, and to move it along the material in small circles. When you’re done, you may want to consider applying sealant to really lock in all your hard work cleaning!