How To Clean A Kayak Like A Pro

We’ve compiled a guide about how to clean a kayak. Check out our tips for advice about the best way to clean a kayak today.

Did you know that if you don’t clean your kayak, all of that dirt and debris can cause degradation of the shell when your kayak is stored away? That’s right, cleaning your kayak, and cleaning it the right way, especially before you store it, is actually important.

A kayak will often last anywhere around twelve to even fifteen years. However, that number can change depending on other factors, and one of the most important ones is cleaning. Cleaning a kayak can seem daunting, but with the right steps, it’s pretty easy and won’t take too much work.

So whether your kayak is brand new or in need of some TLC, keep reading because this guide will give you all the info you need to protect it from the elements and increase its longevity.

Let’s dive in.

Why Is Cleaning A Kayak Important?

Cleaning a kayak is important for a few significant reasons. The first reason is that it keeps your kayak in good condition, ensuring that it lasts longer. The second reason is that it helps to protect you and your kayak from the elements.

If you allow dirt and debris to build up, it can damage the kayak and also create a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. By cleaning your kayak often, or as needed, you’re not only taking care of your investment, but you’re also keeping yourself safe and healthy.

It’s also pretty important to realize that different kayaks need different things. For example, you may have a fiberglass kayak. For this, like most, you can get away with using soap and water.

However, you might have a plastic kayak that’s ridden with mold, a bleach solution would be a more suitable option for this.

The main idea here is that cleaning your kayak is like cleaning anything else. If you want to get the most out of it, and you want to get optimum performance from it, you have to keep it well maintained.

One of the best ways to do that is to ensure you’re cleaning your kayak enough, and that you’re going it the right way.

Get What You Need

So, you’re wondering how to clean a kayak and why you need to. Well, there are multiple ways you could go about cleaning your kayak. Keep in mind that if you took your Kayak out in saltwater, you’ll need that mild soap and water combination.

This is something that is generally recommended, but it’s especially recommended if your kayak was exposed to salt water. That’s because salt water can pretty damaging.

It will basically eat away at the material of your seat, rigging, wet suits, etc. if it’s not rinsed and cleaned after use. So, the rule of thumb here is to ensure you’re not letting the salt sit on your kayak or any of your gear for a long period.

Additionally, you should have a source of running water nearby with a garden hose extension to make things a bit easier.

  • What you’ll need:
  • Bucket
  • Mild dish soap
  • A Soft-bristled brush, such as a toothbrush
  • Hot water
  • Rag/Old Towel
  • Silicone Spray
  • Boat Wax/Kayak Wax (this is optional)

A few things to keep in mind are that you should clean your kayak after each trip you take. However, it’s a bit more typical to clean it after every three to five uses. You should also know that you won’t always need to do the same level of cleaning each time.

This completely depends on different factors, Some could be whether you were in saltwater, how long it’s been since you last cleaned it, and the state that the water was in while your kayak was in the water.

How to Clean a Kayak: Get Started With The First Step 

Now that you’ve gathered all of your supplies, you can get started. As a tip, you may also want to consider wearing gloves and eye protection for this process. So you don’t miss a beat we’ll provide the steps in great detail.

Step 1

The first step is to take your kayak out of the water. Once your kayak is out of the water, fill up your bucket with hot water and add a small amount of dish soap. Dip your soft-bristled brush into the soapy water and start scrubbing the kayak from top to bottom.

The idea here is that you want to be able to break up as much grime as you can. Be sure to pay special attention to any areas that seem dirty or have built-up residue. If needed, use a rag to help remove dirt and debris.

Once you’ve scrubbed the entire kayak, rinse it off with fresh water. This is where that water source comes in.

Step 2

Now that the kayak is clean, it’s time for the next step, applying silicone spray. Keep in mind that although your Kayak seems like it’s one piece, it really isn’t.

It’s actually held together by screws and one thing that you should always do is ensure that you’re tightening those screws. Or at least checking on them every once in a while. Whenever you take your kayak out on the water, you’re loosening those screws with time.

To ensure dryness, re-tighten those screws as they become loose. All you need to do this is a Phillips head screwdriver. You’ll also need a crescent wrench, or if you have a 7/16′ wrench lying around, that’ll do fine as well.

A form of waterproofing can help with this. Silicone spray will help to protect the kayak from the elements and will keep it looking new for longer. All you need to do is spray a light coat of silicone over the entire kayak, making sure to avoid spraying too much.

Let the silicone dry completely. Silicone spray is one option, and so is a marine-grade silicone sealant. Either option will suffice for proper waterproofing. You may be wondering why this is included in the process.

Well, not only does a layer of silicone help to protect your kayak and waterproof it, but it also helps to repel dirt. Silicone will help to decrease the amount of cleaning you have to do each time.

Step 3

The final step is completely optional, but it’s recommended that you wax your kayak at least once a year. Boat wax or, kayak wax will help to protect the exterior of your kayak and will also make it shine. Apply boat wax in the same way that you applied silicone spray, making sure to cover every inch.

Let the wax dry completely before putting your kayak away. As a matter of fact, you can often find, cleaner and protectant solutions in any sporting goods store, a section of a general store, or online.

This step can be a bit time-consuming, but considering that it will make your kayak look better, if not newer…and increases its lifespan, the time you put into it, is a good investment.

Now that you know how to clean a kayak, it’s important to remember to do it regularly – at least every few months. This will help to keep your kayak looking new and extend its lifespan.

Continue with the third step as needed.

Cleaning a kayak may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end. As an additional tip, you’re going to want to make sure you’re allowing the kayak to completely dry before storing it.

This includes setting it down in your garage. Try leaving the kayak outside but out of direct sunlight to avoid discoloration. It won’t take too long to completely dry.

However, you’ll want to make sure that it does before putting it in an enclosed space. If you’re able to elevate the kayak upside down, this could also help to allow not only the outside, but the inside to dry.

This will also alleviate the issue of leaving water in the hull of your kayak which can increase the chances of mold spores since the inside of the kayak is darker, damper, and enclosed.

How to Clean the Inside of Your Kayak

Cleaning the inside of your kayak is pretty much the same concept. You’re going to want to rinse it out as best you can.

We recommend using a hose with a spray nozzle for this. Because of the material of the seat, a simple combination of soap and water would do fine.
Using hot water is a great way to kill more signs of bacteria but it’s not necessary if you don’t have a source for hot water. Make sure you scrub as well.

Keep in mind that the inside of your kayak is completely different from the outside. The inside will often retain more heat and moisture.

It’s also darker leaving tons of room for unwanted bacteria to thrive, especially if stored in an area that isn’t climate controlled. As we mentioned earlier, drying your kayak by mounting it with the inside facing downward can be a big help.

This will allow gravity to work for you and allow for the kayak to have a more even flow of air. This also helps the water to run down the kayak and outside of it, rather than pooling inside of it. This is one of the best tips about cleaning a kayak to make cleaning easy.

Can You Use Any Other Solutions For Cleaning?

There are a few ways to wash a kayak. You don’t always have to use only soap and water or scrub it down by hand. You can use a combination of kayak cleaning tips and techniques if you wanted to.

Instead of hand scrubbing, you could rinse it with a hose or do a light power wash. A freshwater rinse with no additives can also work.

One of the most effective tips for cleaning a kayak would be to use bleach. Now there are a few things to be aware of when using bleach to clean your kayak. You should know that while bleach is a very effective form of disinfecting, it can also be corrosive.

Bleach can be very corrosive to boating equipment and different materials. To keep the bleach from damaging your kayak you should spray the kayak with the bleach solution and let it sit for one minute. Now, this shouldn’t be bleach by itself.

You should always use at least three ounces of bleach, mixed with water…a gallon of water to be exact. Make sure to rinse your kayak afterward and then you’ll need to let it air dry.

There are also certain products that you can buy right out of the store. The good thing is that you can often find different solutions based on the type of kayak you have.

For example, if you have a plastic kayak, using a product like a premium-grade soap for boats could make a huge difference. You could also use a marine UV protectant or a cleaner and protectant that’s made for paddle sports.

Multiple brands offer products that could work. Make sure you’re getting products that are suited to the type of kayak you have.

Final Thoughts

To sum things up, making sure your kayak is cleaned after every use is important to extend its lifespan and keep it looking great. Some kayaks are well over a few thousand dollars, it just makes sense to give some love and protect your investment. However, even the best fishing kayaks under $1000 will need to be maintained for longevity, so make it a habit to clean your kayak after every use.

Here are the main points to keep in mind:

  • Use a soft brush and mild soap to avoid scratching the surface.
  • Pay special attention to the seams, where dirt and grime can accumulate.
  • Rinse thoroughly with fresh water after cleaning.
  • Dry completely before storing or using again.

With these simple tips, you can enjoy your kayak for many years to come.

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