Last Updated on July 1, 2022 by Brian Drew

The first thing anyone notices apart from the size and design of your boat, are the seats. This is where not just you, but even your guests are going to spend most of their time on, when out on your boat. Keeping these seats clean is very important but requires a lot of effort too.

Keeping anything clean for that matter, can be a challenge when met with tough stains or due to the non-availability of the right products. Apart from products, one needs to master some techniques as well, if they want to keep their boat in pristine condition even while docked.

how to do boat seat cleaning

Keep Them Clean And Shiny

Keeping your high-quality boat seats clean is not a very difficult task. The solutions and regular work on those seats will keep them nice and shiny for a long time.

The vinyl materials used in making these seats are generally designed to last long despite the constant exposure to various marine conditions. Hence, a little routine cleaning and a deep clean once in a while will suffice.

How To Clean

There are different types of cleaning processes to ensure these seats look their best always. As time is a rare commodity, a small routine cleanup will ensure the usual grime and dirt are handled. However, a deep cleaning is required once in a while to handle the tougher stains.

Routine Cleanup

Things Needed

  • Soap
  • Water
  • Soft cloth
  • Sponge
  • Dry Towel


  • Mix 1/4th cup of soap with a gallon of fresh water (sea water will not help in undoing the damage)
  • Dip a sponge into the solution and clean the vinyl surfaces in a circular motion
  • Use a clean soft cloth dipped in fresh water, to rinse out the soap solution
  • Finish off with a good wipe-down with a dry towel. Ensure no water pools into the seams

Deep Cleaning

Sometimes just a mild soap solution will not do. In such times use the following technique:

Things Needed

  • Soft cloth
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Fabric & Vinyl cleaner


  • After a routine clean-up with soap and water, which helps to remove the dirt particles and the sunscreen use the vinyl cleaner
  • Take some fabric & vinyl cleaner on a soft cloth and rub it into the vinyl. Use the brush for stubborn spots
  • Remove the excess solution from the surfaces, using a dry soft cloth

Get Rid Of Mildew

Things Needed

  • Mildew stain remover
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Water
  • Towel/ cloth


  • The first step is to do a spot test. You don’t want to spray all over the seats and realize it has to cause more stains and damage than removing them
  • Let the solution sit for a while and scrub it out with a scrub pad or a brush. Ensure the brush is soft and the strokes used are not too hard. It may damage your seats for good.
  • Repeat on spots necessary
  • Once this step is done, rinse the areas well with water. Use a dry towel to remove all traces of moisture. If not dried properly, mold might grow, thus adding to the existing stains

Some Quick Tips

Having a solution handy at all times is advisable. Even if it cannot remove the stain fully, it can reduce the impact. The longer you let a stain sit, the harder it is to remove it. Keep these solutions handy and use them on stains immediately. You can use the proper technique and ingredients later and give your seats a good clean-up.

Baking Soda

Helps in getting rid of debris and mild stains. Also helps in removing odor. Sprinkle some on the surface and scrub gently.

Washing Soda

Another commonly found ingredient around the house. It will absorb the dirt and leave a stain-free seat behind.

  • Mix washing soda with hot water
  • Dip a scrubbing brush into this solution and start scrubbing the seat surface gently. This will help the solution go deeper
  • Let the solution sit and soak in for a few minutes
  • Scrub away the dirt with the same brush
  • Use a towel and wipe off the solution
  • Finally, wet the corner of the towel and wipe away the solution
  • Let it dry completely


A bottle filled with white vinegar and fresh water at a 1:1 ratio will come in handy at all times. Just spray this mixture and wipe it off after a few minutes, for a quick mess-free clean-up.

  • Mix white vinegar and water in a ratio of 1:1 in a spray bottle
  • Spray a generous layer over the vinyl surface, you must be able to see a shiny layer on the seats
  • Let it soak in for a few minutes
  • Spray a second layer
  • Start scrubbing gently with a soft-bristled brush (hard bristles will damage the surface)
  • Use a dry towel and wipe away the vinegar and let it dry out in the sun or air for a few hours
  • You will not only do away with the stains but will do so without any residue or odor.

What Not To Do

Now that you know what to use to get rid of those tough stains, here are a few things to be avoided, for the safety of your vinyl seats:

  • Never use harsh chemicals, no matter how bad the stains are. The chemicals may seem to help with the stains initially, but in the long run, will cause cracks on the surface.
  • Avoid chemicals such as ammonia, bleach, etc.
  • Do not use acetone, gasoline, or kerosene. This will ruin the top protective coat.
  • Do not use petroleum-based or silicone products as it will harden the vinyl surface. This will result in cracks in the future.
  • Do not use harsh motions or scrub hard on the vinyl surface or upholstery. It will result in faded patches, thus making the entire place look uneven and unkempt.

If You Have To

Mold is one thing that cannot be scrubbed away easily. If the mold is stubborn and refuses to budge, you will be forced to bleach. Bleach is both effective and pocket friendly. However, ensure you use only a mixture of bleach with water on small spots.

If the mold persists or is spread over a large area, opt for the professional solutions available in the market. Though more expensive than bleach, this product will get rid of the mold effectively, without harming your seats.

Protect Your Seats

Apart from cleaning the seats regularly and taking extra care to remove the stains and mold, one has to protect the seats on a regular basis. These seats are exposed to the sunlight all the time and tend to result in fading and cracking, over a period of time.

Spray your seats with an aerospace protectant. Spray generously and wipe away with a cloth. Once wiped, it will provide a protective layer against stains and UV rays. If done once a month, it will not only keep your seats clean but will also prolong its life.


When one owns a boat, just owning the fanciest-looking boat with a powerful engine is not enough. One must ensure the seats are good, comfortable, and clean too, at all times. With a good cleaner, anything can be kept clean. However, when it comes to vinyl, though it is easy to maintain when compared to other fabric materials, there are some risks too.

One has to be careful with and attentive to their seats. If using a certain product seems to be affecting the texture or quality of the seat, an alternative solution must be used. No one wants to get into a boat with dirty and stained seats. Hence maintaining those seats and ensuring it is well protected can change the way your boat looks.

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