How to Clean Mold Off Marine Vinyl

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If you want to keep your boat shipshape, then it's important to learn how to clean mold off marine vinyl.

About Marine Vinyl and Mold

Marine vinyl is designed to resist mold. Unfortunately, it is not a super product manufactured to withstand the effects of accumulated sunscreen, dirt, residual soap and water. Wherever there is water, there is usually mold as well. Moisture from the air and sweat from bodies create an ideal environment for mold and mildew to grow on vinyl surfaces. Even if you cover your boat's seats, moisture can still penetrate them causing unsightly mold growth. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can eliminate mold from your marine vinyl.

Effective Mold Cleaning Products

starbrite mildew stain remover

The first step in learning how to clean mold off marine vinyl is purchasing an effective cleaning product. While there are a variety of mold-killing products on the market, the following have been proven most effective for eliminating mildew on marine vinyl:

  • Greased Lightning Marine Formula
  • Starbrite Mildew Stain Remover
  • Simple Green
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
  • Marine 31 Mildew Remover
  • Mixture of bleach and water
  • Mixture of ammonia and water
  • Mixture of baking soda and vinegar

Mold Cleaning Product Warning

Bleach-based cleaning products are some of the most popular options when it comes to getting rid of mold from boats. Not only is bleach an effective cleaning product, it is also extremely affordable. Unfortunately, bleach deteriorates the stitching on marine vinyl. The detrimental effects are even more noticeable when you combine bleach and sunlight. Mixing bleach and sunlight will cause the threads that bind vinyl seat cushions to weaken and eventually disintegrate. For this reason experts recommend using a mixture of bleach and water exclusively for smaller mold jobs.

If you have extensive mold growth on your boat's vinyl exteriors, then you might consider using a more expensive cleaning product specially designed for the marine market. Doing so will eliminate bleaching concerns. However, before you buy a mold-killing product make sure to read the fine print. Some vinyl cleaners are automotive formulas repackaged for use on boats. However, they do not include special ultraviolet blocking ingredients that boat owners should be using to protect marine vinyl.

Protecting Mother Earth

Regardless of what type of product you use to eliminate mold from your marine vinyl it is imperative to conduct your cleaning out of the water. Cleaners, waxes and polishes can kill fish, birds and other marine life. While there are several environmentally friendly cleaning products on the market most of them are not specially formulated for marine use. To preserve Mother Earth, it's best to clean marine vinyl away from large bodies of water.

How to Clean Mold Off Marine Vinyl

The key to keeping your boat's vinyl mold-free is to clean it on a regular basis. Don't wait until mold and mildew have spread to various areas, rather tackle even the smallest jobs quickly by employing the following techniques:

  • Take your time--Once you apply a mold-killing product onto a vinyl surface it's important to let it sit for a while to allow the cleanser to work. The bigger the job the longer you should let the vinyl cleaner sit.
  • Go easy--After the cleanser has been applied, use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the vinyl. A toothbrush or nailbrush can help loosen particles adhered to the surface and eliminate mold hiding in crevices. In addition, pay special attention to the stitching, where residue can build up. Finally, remember to brush lightly to avoid damaging your marine vinyl.
  • Rinse well--It is critical to remove every trace of cleanser as mold spores can feed on almost any sort of residue, even soap.
  • Don't forget to buff--Use a clean white towel to get buff marine vinyl. You want to get vinyl as dry as possible to eliminate moisture that can cause mold growth.

The Importance of Proper Cleaning

Proper cleaning and care of your boat will pay off in the long run. Not only will you create a safe environment for your passengers, you will also ensure your boat is showroom set if you decide to sell it. What's more, regular vinyl maintenance will cut down on expensive resurfacing jobs and help preserve the integrity of your boat for years to come.

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How to Clean Mold Off Marine Vinyl