Washdown 101 Page 2

Washdown 101

An expert lesson in how to keep your boat looking good-no prerequisite needed.

By Eileen Murphy — April 2006

Jeffery Salter

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Washdown 101
• Part 2: Washdown 101
• Washdown 101 Photo Gallery

 Related Resources
• Feature Index


To avoid scratching enclosures, you'll want to stay away from hard brushes. You could use a soft-bristle brush, but you're better off with one of those large bone-shape sponges or a wash mitt, like the cotton chenille one from First Mate. Rausch maintains that AYM uses Pledge-that's right, the furniture polish-to clean the inside of isinglass and similar materials. "The expensive isinglass cleaners are made from the same ingredients Pledge is," he explains. And you don't even to have to rinse the enclosures down afterwards. However, he does recommend that if you have Strataglass or a special canopy, you should consult the manufacturer on what cleaner it recommends.

For windows, Rausch likes to use a California water blade, which can be purchased at auto- and marine-supply stores, as it removes excess water and eliminates streaks. He advises that you should use a different chamois for isinglass and windows than the one you use for fiberglass: "Something, like a tiny pebble, could stick to the chamois while you're drying the fiberglass and scratch windows and isinglass."


When cleaning brightwork onboard, most people concentrate on railings and ladders. But it's important to also clean the smaller details-things like cleats and hatch dogs. AYM uses the same soft cleaner and wash mitts it does on other parts of the boat, and crews dry and buff the brightwork to keep it shiny. Finishing these areas off with a metal polish containing a UV protectant will help keep the metal looking newer longer.

Upholstery is also something boaters occasionally overlook-until that day when they lift the cushions and find a sea of mold growing underneath them. Cushions should be removed and wiped down, then stood on end to dry. Rausch recommends applying a vinyl conditioner to the cushions every three months.

Teak, unfortunately, is not quite as easy to maintain. Unvarnished teak is one of the few places onboard that AYM crews use a hard brush. Rausch says that combining the hard bristles with sudsy ammonia, and a lot of elbow grease, will keep it looking great. (Just remember to scrub against the grain.) With varnished teak, however, you need to be a lot gentler. On decorative teak areas, Rausch recommends using a solution of 75 percent vinegar, 25 percent water. Wipe it on with a rag, and it will not only clean the wood, but also protect it and give it a nice shine. On teak that sees a lot of foot traffic, AYM crews use the standard cleaner and thoroughly dry the area with a chamois.


Full of expensive electronics, the helm is a place I've always been overly careful about cleaning. Electronic's screens must be treated with a great amount of care. But as Rausch points out, everything on a boat is made to get wet, so crews rinse the helm with fresh water only and then wipe it down using a microfiber towel that's electrostatically charged to pick up dust and dirt. AYM does not recommend using harsh cleaners on screens and monitors (but you should occasionally wet the microfiber towel with vinegar to keep the charge). As PMY's Ben Ellison explains in this month's "Electronics Q&A" (see page 41), other experts agree. Raymarine's product manager suggests using a freshwater spray bottle and a camera lens cloth, while the president of Argonaut Computers prefers using either rubbing alcohol or screen cleansers and wipes from Kensington Technology and occasionally applying Rain-X glass treatment.

Whether you choose to clean your own boat or you hire a service like American Yacht Maintenance to do it, she should always be rinsed down after a run. Additionally, unless she's a sportfisherman frequently battling salt water, a thorough washdown should be done every two weeks. And don't forget below the waterline. Rausch says his rule of thumb is to detail your boat "above the rubrail every three months, [and] below every six months."

Follow this expert's advice to keep your boat looking like new, and watch out-next time it might be me standing on the docks telling you that you missed a spot.

American Yacht Maintenance (888) 883-BOAT. www.cleanyacht.com.

Kensington Technology (650) 572-2700. www.kensington.com.

Marykate Boat Care Products (800) 556-5074. www.crcindustries.com/marine.

Rain-X (800) 416-1600. www.rainx.com.

Shurhold Industries (800) 962-6241. www.shurhold.com.

Next page > Washdown 101: Photo Gallery > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the May 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

Vetus Maxwell Tip of the Week

Hot Today

Featured Brands

Costa Palmos logo MCY logo
HMY Yacht Sales logo Volvo Penta logo
Absolute logo Sunseeker

Boat-Name Generator

cube puzzel Thinking of a unique name for your new boat can be tough, that's why we created a Boat Name Generator.
Try it here. ▶

Select Brokerage