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Inside Out: Baja Marine Head Offers Second Round of Powerboat Cleaning Tips


No matter how impeccably they’re maintained, performance boat interiors take a beating from spray—especially of the saltwater kind—and other less predictable “elements” such as sunscreen and spilled beverages. A longtime powerboat owner, John Walker, the chief executive officer of Baja Marine and its refit/refurbish shop dubbed Powerboat Headquarters in Washington, N.C., offered useful advice in a recent press release from the company.

“Cleaning the interior is different from the exterior because now you have food involved,” Walker said in the release. “A lot of what gets in there is fat-based, and once food gets ground in, it’s hard to get out. Use a mild solution of water and dish detergent to clean the interior and the upholstery. That will take the grease out.”

Citrus-based cleaners from 3M, CRC or Rust-Oleum can lift stains from upholstery and easily be wiped or washed away, Walker explained. He also offered a simpler “home-cleaning” remedy.

“Just take a lemon or orange, cut it in half, and rub it on the stain,” said Walker. “That always works in a pinch, and in fact might work better than some of the chemical sprays.”

Odors can get trapped in a powerboat’s V-berth or cabin, especially those equipped with a head or galley. Walker suggested placing an egg carton filled with regular charcoal briquettes (Do not use Match Light!” he noted) on or near the berth. The charcoal will draw in the odors and help remove them.

“Baking soda also works to trap odors,” Walker said. “Air the V-berth out often as well, by opening the hatch and any windows.”

As for cleaning the interior surfaces, he had specific advice. “We always keep Scrubbing Bubbles on hand because it’s gentle,” he said. “Interior carpet usually is snap-out so you can wash it like a car mat.”

Although a performance boat’s dash may not be the target of much abuse, Walker explained, it still can get doused with spray. Today’s gauges and components are water-resistant if not waterproof, which means they can be hosed off, and condensation inside the gauges should dissipate if it forms. Be certain not to use anything but a soft cloth and water on the gauge lenses to avoid scratching, he advised.

For cleaning stainless steel pieces such as rails and interior grab handles, Walker recommended using products such as Flitz or Nevr-Dull, which can be found in auto parts stores. They do an excellent job, he said, and all that is required is to apply the product and wipe it with a dry towel.

Of course, even with constant attention and care boat interiors will wear and at some point may require replacement.

“Performance boat interiors that are beyond cleaning or repair can be refurbished, which is one of the specialties of the experienced team at Powerboat Headquarters,” he said in the release. “Boat owners can send in their old upholstery skins and Powerboat Headquarters will create new ones. The new upholstery can be installed by the owner’s marine service repair shop. Or, the owner can bring the boat to Powerboat Headquarters for refurbishment, which is the most certain way to make it look like new.”

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