How To Clean Boat Carpet

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How to clean boat carpetIf you need to know how to clean boat carpet, follow the instructions below. We’ll start by looking at cleaning recent spills, then look at regular cleaning and maintenance.

Quick and Easy Steps for Keeping Your Boat Carpet Clean

To clean your boat carpet, blot any liquids with a carpet cleaner solution, then carefully dry the area. You can use a small fan to speed the drying process. Be sure to keep some carpet cleaner safely stored on your boat, so it’s on-hand when you need it.

What Should I Know About Boat Carpets?

 Most boats use polypropylene fiber carpeting, usually dyed to various attractive colors, alongside various other materials.  This is excellent from a practical standpoint because most carpeting on boats sees a lot of use, and durability is usually the most important thing. However, these fibers can be vulnerable to water damage, which is why it’s important to keep them as dry as possible.

If you install another type of carpeting in your boat, and some people do, you may need to change your cleaning processes and techniques. The key thing to keep in mind is how exposed your carpets are. The air above lakes, rivers, and the ocean contains a lot of extra particles that can land on your carpeting even when your boat is just sitting at the dock.

This isn’t a big issue if your carpeting is behind a sealed door most of the time, but if it’s exposed to the air, expect a lot of particles to settle there.  Shallow carpeting is usually better on boats because it’s much easier to get these lingering particles out. 

Regular Maintenance Tips for Boat Carpeting

boat carpet maintenance

Now that we’ve discussed the materials and conditions let’s talk about performing regular maintenance on your boat’s carpeting.

The first step for most boats is regularly vacuuming the surface. You may need to do this every day or two if you use your boat a lot, especially if you bring other people along.  Make sure to get a vacuum cleaner designed for nautical use and try to store it in an area away from regular airflow.  This step will help minimize corrosion and maximize the useful lifespan of your vacuum cleaner.

We recommend using a vacuum with long bristles that can agitate the carpeting and loosen debris. A few passes with your vacuum should be enough to suck out everything you can knock loose.

You can use the vacuum’s beater bar, but we don’t recommend this. Boat carpeting already sees a lot of heavy use, so beaters may noticeably reduce the lifespan of your carpet despite the general resilience of the fibers.

For a deeper clean, use standard carpet cleaner as directed and make sure to wash off all soap and dry the area thoroughly. Soap is great at collecting dirt, so if you leave any on the carpet, it will grab and hold more dirt. Aside from this cleaning process, try to keep the carpeting as dry as possible.

To make the cleaning process easier, consider replacing your boat carpet so it’s removable.

How to Deep Clean Your Boat Carpet

deap clean boat carpet

 To keep your boat’s carpet as fresh as possible, go for a thorough cleaning at least twice a year.  You can use either soapy water or a mixture of one part white vinegar to five parts of cold water. Do not substitute any other type of vinegar for your cleaning solution; they’re less effective and could dye your carpet fibers instead of cleaning them. For a stronger cleaner, increase the ratio of vinegar.

You may be able to do a deep cleaning in the water, depending on your boat’s design, but chances are you’ll need to pull it out of the water for this.

When you’re ready to begin, soak the carpet with a water hose—not a harsh car-washing blast, but a gentle spray—and allow the water to run out, then use a medium-bristled brush to agitate the carpet and remove more dirt. Start from the area furthest away from the drain hole and work your way towards it.

After rinsing the carpet, apply your cleaning mixture and saturate a small section. Let the solution soak for several minutes, then scrub it with your brush. Rinse the carpeting again, once again starting away from the drain hole and working your way towards it.

Once you’re done washing it, use a powerful vacuum to suck up all lingering moisture. You don’t want to let anything linger, so take it slowly and carefully on this part. Let the entire boat dry for a few hours. When you’re sure the carpet is dry, brush it with a clean, dry brush and go against the grain to help restore a fluffier look.

Do I Need Any Special Products for Cleaning Boat Carpets?

 In most cases, you do not need any expensive cleaners to clean your boat carpet thoroughly.  Many products are overpriced to make you think they provide some unique benefits for boats when, in reality, they’re the same as other, cheaper cleaners. It’s okay to buy a specialty product if it offers genuine value, but most people will do fine with regular household cleaners.

However, your equipment is another story entirely. Most boats don’t need a steam mop or a steam cleaner, but a powerful vacuum cleaner is essential to taking care of your boat carpets. The ideal choice is compact enough to fit in a small storage area but still strong enough to suck all the moisture out of the carpet in one or two passes.

Steam cleaners can however be very useful for many areas on a boat, such as the boat galley or the deck. A great and quick way to clean plastic that also can clean up your boat carpets. Here is a list of the best steam cleaners of 2021.

If you’re not sure which vacuums make sense for your boat, consider talking to other boat owners or talking to staff at marine supply stores. Be sure the vacuum fits the needs of your boat. You might need long, specialized attachments to reach under furniture or get to narrow areas, so don’t be afraid to consider your options before you commit to a purchase.

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AUTHOR

Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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