Should You Wash Your Boat After Every Trip?

There are neat freaks, clutter kings/queens and everyone who falls somewhere in the middle. Oftentimes you only need to look at someone’s car to tell where along the neat/dirty spectrum they are–from immaculately washed and waxed to “WASH ME” scrawled in caked-on dirt. Regardless, we are absolutely not judging…until you move the conversation to boats.

Not washing your boat can cause a multitude of cosmetic and, more importantly, performance and safety issues. But the question is, should you wash your boat after every trip? Is it really worth the effort? Well, yes and no.

The unfortunate truth is that water, especially saltwater, can be quite destructive to many materials and surfaces that might be found on your boat. Metals can corrode, wood can warp and fiberglass can deteriorate. You can protect these thing by regularly cleaning your vessel, including:

  • Waxing your boat every 3-4 months. The combination of hot sunlight and corrosive saltwater can quickly eat away at your boat’s protective layer of wax, so be prepared to recoat it regularly.
  • Completing a freshwater wash down with a light cleaner (dish soap works in a pinch), which can drastically reduce the chances of corrosion on stainless steel parts and should be done after every use on saltwater.
  • Flushing your engine after every use can keep it from getting clogged up by debris or corroded by saltwater.
  • Washing all windows with a water and vinegar solution to keep visibility while on the water after every trip.

There are many ways to wash your boat, but the important thing to remember is that you should make it a priority if you want your investment to last. Wash it with fresh water and mild soaps after every trip, wax at least every four months, flush your engine after every use and wash your windows regularly.

Critics always joke about just how expensive (and stressful) boat ownership can be but if you wash your boat and conduct regular maintenance, it can be (mostly) smooth sailing for you and your ship.