The Ultimate Yacht Cleaning Kit: Essentials for Every Captain

The Ultimate Yacht Cleaning Kit: Essentials for Every Captain

Cruise smoothly with this best yacht cleaning supplies

A grungy yacht poses more than just a cosmetic problem; it can also give way to various functional and safety issues. Salt deposits can cause corrosion and pitting, unwanted marine life can begin to grow, vinyl and fabric can fade and crack, carpets can stain, fiberglass will usually become damaged, and the head will definitely need cleaning. 

These details may be old news to you, but where many articles push the importance and the need to clean your boat on a set schedule, it is fair to say that few explain exactly what you need in your cleaning kit — except for this one.

Here’s what to include in a captain’s yacht cleaning kit

Each item in your yacht’s cleaning kit has an essential function, but before going over each of those elements, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Get the highest quality, most effective cleaning supplies you can
  • Take good care of your tools
  • Use your supplies properly for the best results
  • Create a set schedule that makes cleaning a habit
  • Restock your supplies when you run out

No item in your cleaning kit will last forever, so pay attention to what you need to buy and whether you need to refill liquid cleaners or replace worn items.

With that out of the way, here are the key items to include in a full-fledged cleaning kit: 


A bucket will hold your sudsy solutions as you clean the surface of your vessel, and it should be large enough to hold plenty of solution alongside your mops, sponges, and mitts. Depending on how large your yacht is, though, you might need multiple buckets to take care of it. 

Your buckets do not have to be fancy, but you will want to make sure they are easy to carry one-handed. If you get a large bucket with handles on its sides, it will be too unwieldy to move around as you wash.


Mops are excellent for reaching areas you would not otherwise be able to and are just as great for cleaning water stains. Get a chamois mop head with good absorption qualities that will grab grime and dirt without scratching your yacht’s surfaces. 


Sponges are versatile tools for removing dirt, but ensure you bring aboard the softest sponges you can to avoid scuffing your boat’s surfaces. In addition, buy sponges with no embedded chemicals that are as eco-friendly as possible, and be careful with scuff erasers, as they may not be suitable for more sensitive surfaces.

Wash Mitt

Microfiber chenille wash mitts will give your boat the gentle touch it needs. They are fantastic at removing built-up grime without harming fiberglass, paint, oiled finishes, or gel coats. You may even want two since they are perfect for washing and drying but be wary not to get leaves and debris into them, as they can be nearly impossible to remove. 

Man maintaining and cleaning a yacht

Shammy Towel

Salt spray constantly attacks your boat when it is on the water, so you will need the right towel to wipe down surfaces. Shammy towels are incredibly absorbent, and you will never have to worry about leaving water spots, scratches, scuffs, or salt deposits behind.


Protecting your yacht means removing dirt and replacing the protective wax barrier that keeps grime from directly attacking your boat’s hull. A good wash-and-wax will cover that double duty and keep surfaces clean and shiny.

Fabric Spray

Salt spray, rain, and even the fish you catch all challenge the integrity of your boat’s fabric. Keep a bottle of fabric spray in your cleaning kit to maintain your boat’s various fabrics, be they sails to seats.

UV Protectant

Regarding environmental damage, the sun’s rays will inevitably degrade many of the materials on your boat, from the wood on the deck to the fiberglass in the hull, but by applying a UV protectant on a regular schedule, you can keep sun damage at bay.

The types of surfaces you need to clean

Every surface on your yacht needs cleaning, but the process for each one is different:

  •  Carpet: Vacuum up any dirt and debris, scrub with soap and water, and dry before storage
  • Vinyl: Clean with soap and water and a rag; wipe dry
  • Fiberglass: Clean with a soft bristle brush using soap and water; for non-slip fiberglass, treat with non-skid products
  • Cushions: Use a soft bristle brush with soap and water
  • Chrome: Eliminate pits with metal wax and rag; use chrome polish to protect
  • Wood: Soak with water, clean with a stiff brush and wood-safe cleaner across the grain, then scrub while rinsing 
  • Engine: Protect areas that cannot get wet with tape waterproof tape; remove debris and wipe dirt with a paper towel; use a degreaser/water solution to wipe down the engine
  • Windows: Flood the windows with fresh water, then wipe with a shammy cloth
Young man taking care of a boat, cleaning windows

The different types of water

Depending on where you take your boat, you will encounter several types of water that will affect your boat’s surfaces differently. These include the following:


Saltwater requires the most thorough boat cleaning. You will need to rinse the boat first and clean each section at a time, going from top to bottom. 

Do not forget to take care of your interior, using appropriate cleaners for each surface. Clean the floors, inspect the carpets and deck for damage, and then wash, wax, and polish the hull. Aim to complete the process every four to 12 weeks.


Freshwater may be less damaging to boats, but yours will still need a wash after being out in it. 

The cleaning process itself is mostly the same as it is with saltwater, but you can go longer between cleanings, and you do not have to worry about salt corrosion; just aim to rinse your boat after every use if possible.

Brackish Water

Brackish water falls between freshwater and saltwater in terms of salt content. Still, you’ll want to clean your boat in the same manner as you would with saltwater, though, as brackish water can still cause corrosion. 

Grey or Black Water

These are not types of water you will take your boat into; they are the waters found aboard the boat. Grey water is for boat showers, sinks, and wash basins, while black water is for the toilet (or head). 

Needing to clean grey or black water from your boat will be localized to a leaking pipe or faulty appliance. Use cleaners and towels/mitts/sponges appropriate for the affected surfaces. Clean the showers and faucets every four to six weeks and the head once a month

Author Bio: 

Nick Heisler is the Customer Service Manager at Captains Preferred Products. Nick has over 15 years of experience in the fishing industry. From offshore fishing to commercial boat services, he has worked with Major boating brands and prestigious boats. His experience assists with Captains Preferred Products marine customers. CPP specializes in bringing high-grade marine products to everyday consumers.  

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