It's "Maintenance Monday", and today we're discussing your boat's vinyl surfaces. The most common material used for exterior seating and furniture components is vinyl, a tough and extremely durable material, but using the wrong cleaners can ruin them. Routine cleaning can be done with a sponge and a bucket of mild, soapy water, followed by a thorough rinsing. Never use strong cleaners that contain bleach or ammonia. While they can produce immediate and pleasing results—especially on vinyl with mildew stains—these chemicals will break down and ruin the vinyl over time. Deep cleaning can be done with a purpose-made vinyl cleaner, followed with the application of a vinyl protectant, and this should be repeated once a month.
At some point you’ll likely have to contend with mildew staining on your vinyl, no matter how well you maintain it. If you do have mildew staining, consider lightly scrubbing in a solution of Oxy Clean diluted in hot water, as this will not stain other fabrics on the boat. There are also mildew removers available at your local marine supply store, but we’ve had varying levels of success with them that are not at all consistent.
As a last-ditch effort for severely stained vinyl, try using bleach diluted in water or cleaners containing bleach. But make sure you don’t get any of the solution on canvas or other fabrics on your boat; remove the offending pieces from the boat and clean them at home, if you can.
The easiest way to make vinyl last is to keep it covered or stowed away. If you’ve got exterior cushions that can be removed, stow them in a locker or below decks at the end of the day. Permanently exposed vinyl fixtures such as captain’s chairs, benches, and console seats can be protected with canvas covers, and while these custom covers can be expensive, the protection they provide is well worth it in the long run.
If you’re in doubt as to how you should properly care for any exterior fabric on your boat, give us a call at Mariner Services, Inc. at (239)776-4253 for a free estimate on vinyl cleaning and protective maintenance services. Using the wrong cleaner or protectant can prove to be a costly mistake!