How to Take Care of Your Vinyl Seats

by | Jan 15, 2019 | Boat/Product Reviews

If you have ever been out on a recreational boat with friends for a day or even a few hours, you know it’s virtually impossible to keep your vinyl looking brand new. Simply sitting or leaning against the vinyl puts oils onto the seats which leads to them becoming dirt sponges. Check out last week’s blog to try and cut down on this. Once that vinyl is dirty, it simply looks unappealing.

So to avoid this unsightly seating, here are 4 tips to clean all of your boat’s vinyl!


1: Use that elbow grease!

While many very strong cleaners are out there to help cut down on cleaning time, the best way to get great looking vinyl is good old elbow grease along with a pretty stiff plastic brush. When using the brush, be careful not to rub too aggressively on the sewed seams of the seats to avoid weakening the threads and potentially causing a split. However, still clean in those seams by using a soft plastic brush to get the dirt out. A good wipe down using a degreaser or industrial cleaner can leave you in awe at how nice old (or new!) vinyl can turn out when deeply cleaned. It is important to note that in using strong cleaners, it’s wise to use some vinyl protectant (see Tip 3!) to prevent the vinyl from getting dried out.

2: Take your time!

As with most things, the quicker you rush through the cleaning process, the less desirable the outcome. A good, deep cleaning simply takes time. For reference, it usually takes me a little over an hour to completely scrub and apply protectant to all of the vinyl on our 18’ bowrider (seats, sides, swim lounge/deck). This deep cleaning and scrubbing is most likely only needed once a month (or even less frequently!) if you take your boat out every weekend. Just a quick wipe down will do after most outings.   

3: Not all protectants are created equal!

Over the past few years, my boat detailing experience has taught me that all vinyl protectants are definitely not created equal. Although many claim to keep your vinyl soft and conditioned, some end up simply leaving your vinyl sticky which is not a good feeling and it attracts dirt. I have found that “natural shine” protectants work well without leaving the surface with a gummy film. Using the protectant every time you clean the vinyl  may seem like overkill, but it will keep your vinyl looking great for years to come..

4: Keep it Covered!

Arguably the easiest way to keep your boat in great shape is to keep the boat covered! If you put all this effort in to keeping your vinyl clean, you might as well protect your efforts with a nice fitting cover. The UV rays and organic material (leaves, pine needles, etc.) can dry out and stain your vinyl. Save yourself the hassle of repairs by investing in a long lasting durable polyester.


By following these tips for cleaning, your interior should stay in great shape for years to come!

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