How to Rid Your Boat of Salt and Stubborn Soap Scum

Boat ownership is a huge responsibility. While it is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, many prospective boat buyers fail to consider the many aspects of general upkeep, preventive maintenance, repairs and more that come with owning a vessel. One of the most important, yet difficult tasks involved in this pursuit is thwarting the corrosive properties of salt water. Despite the many efforts boat owners take to combat the brine, somehow, the salt always gets back up and steps back into the ring.

That’s right – of the million things you think of that could go wrong with your boat, salt accumulation is one of the most serious. Salt is somewhat of a silent killer, slowly wearing down important components on your vessel until irreversible damage sets in and your left footing a hefty bill.

In addition to the damages salt accumulation and prolonged exposure to salty environments may cause, part of the problem is that salt stains and corroding components are just unsightly and drastically take away from the overall aesthetic appeal of your boat. The bottom line is that if you’re not proactive in thwarting salt’s effects on your boat, you’re in for a few headaches.

While many boaters store their vessels out of the water, many of us don’t have that luxury. Keeping your boat on a lift can certainly help, but even then, it’s still within close proximity of the water and salt is still a factor. A few basic things you can do to help are to cover the entire vessel, use the electronics covers provided by the manufacturers, and don’t leave any valuables on board. The same goes for loose fishing gear. Believe us, a few hooks, lures and weights left in the metal cup holders (come on, we’ve all done it) will rust almost instantly.

Successfully preventing salt damage is also a direct result of how thoroughly you clean your boat. After a long day of fishing, we’re often left exhausted and ready to fry up our fresh catch and sip a cocktail, but the boat needs to come first. It seems obvious that the areas on board that witnessed the most action should receive most of the attention when you’re cleaning, but the entire vessel, bow to stern, needs to be addressed. Fish blood, slime and bait stains are all easy to spot and come out pretty easily with a good boat scrub. However, while most modern boat wash formulas are effective at washing away lingering salt, most of us aren’t scrubbing every inch of the vessel. Instead, it’s popular to scrub the problem areas that are visibly stained while simply rinsing the rest of the boat with fresh water.

To rid the entire vessel of salt, more needs to be done. This is particularly important for boaters who don’t really get the boat dirty with fish blood, but instead frequent the local sandbar. After a leisure day on the boat, many boaters are under the impression that a freshwater rinse is sufficient, but that is simply not the case. When salt dries to a surface, even a high-pressure hose isn’t enough to completely clear it.

The best solution to eradicating your boat of salt upon return to the dock is a dedicated product designed for with the brine in mind. There are a few good options out there, but we highly recommend Salts Gone ( 100% eco-friendly and incredibly easy to use, this unique solution is formulated to not only remove salt from every inch of your vessel, but also to leave behind a protective barrier to prevent future salt corrosion. With Salts Gone, users even have the option to attach the container to their hose, simply spraying the solution on every surface of the vessel and then rinsing with fresh water. For those who prefer the traditional method of filling a bucket and using a scrub brush, a few drops of the concentrated formula, mixed with fresh water, is enough to cover the entire boat.

Speaking of scrub brushes, the implement you choose to apply the solution with is very important. For rigid, nonskid surfaces, a hard-bristle brush head is the way to go, while smooth gel-coated surfaces need to be addressed with a soft-bristle brush head. For more delicate surfaces like outboard engine cowlings, vinyl upholstery and plexiglass, we recommend using a microfiber mitt doused in the solution. Make sure you wipe gently, as even the smallest particles can scratch these surfaces.

Finally, once you’ve covered the entire boat and scrubbed or wiped every surface, you can rinse thoroughly and enjoy the salt-free vessel. Unfortunately, the cleanliness is usually short-lived, as even exposure to salty air leads to salt buildup on various vessel surfaces, particularly the ones you are unable to cover. That’s why upkeep is important, and we’ll add that you should clean your boat regularly, particularly with a solution dedicated to removing salt, even when it hasn’t been used.