Boats will get dirty from dirt and dust particles and water that collects on boat substrates, not to mention salt, chemicals, fish/pet stains and grime collection from general use. Not only does the exterior get dirty, but your boat’s interior does as well and requires a thorough cleaning all around.

Cleaning and detailing your boat is a considerable project at hand. Believe us, we live and breathe this business daily and have worked as professional detailers (and still do!). But, having the right products and equipment will make boat detailing much more simpler and time saving…and more enjoyable, especially using high-quality engineered products that save you time and money!

From boats that need maintenance cleaning after daily trips, or for boats that have sat in the yard for months, it is essential to have a detailing kit on hand to help you maintain your boat’s beautiful appearance and stand up to marine performance. 

Take note of the following must-have items for every boat detailing kit. 

A Good Hose and/or a Pressure Washer

Pressure washers and standard water hoses with adjustable nozzle sprayers will help you from  removing initial surface dirt to hosing down bubbly cleaning suds. In most cases, a standard hose will do the trick, as pressure washers, if not used in the right manner, can damage surfaces. And buying high-quality cleaning products will help alleviate the need for the more expensive pressure washers, as the cleaning product does the work by weakening and loosening dirt and grime that a simple hose and sprayer nozzle can remove. 

Small, High-Suction Vacuum Cleaner

There are some areas on boats and yachts which you cannot access with brushes, no matter how long the handles. They cannot reach some corners and edges in tight compartments or within the engine room. For such areas, you need a high-suction vacuum with a long thin nozzle to reach those hard-to-get places. 

Rotary Polishers

DeWalt, FLEX, Makita, Maxshine and Rupes are top brands to consider regarding polishers for your boat detailing. Whether you are polishing paint or gel coats, a rotary polisher is a must-have tool in your detailing kit. Rotary polishers are used for compounding - a method of removing scuffs, swirlmarks, scratches, and oxidation on a boat’s surface through heat, friction and utilizing an abrasive detail product. We carry a number of rotary polishers for any and all boat detailing work. 

Random Orbital Polishers

An orbital polisher spins in one direction, while at the same time oscillating throughout the movement. This is a machine you would typically use after the compounding detail work to remove any holograms and scratches. Orbital polishers come with backing plate attachments in various sizes. Consider using the larger sized pads to deliver more heat and friction (expect to pay a bit more, but well worth it given the larger surface coverage area). 

Foam Pad Accessories

Standard duty orbital pads will be used with polishes and finishing compounds to diminish and remove holograms and scratches. Higher end pads will come with concaved dimples on the surface, which allows the pad to hold more of the polishing product on the pad. The lesser expensive pads will come with a flat surface and will certainly help you achieve the desired outcome but with more produce applications. We carry cutting and polishing pads by Lake Country and Buff and Shine that deliver the marine performance you expect. 

Cutting Compounds, Finishing/Polishing Compounds, Sealants 

Cutting compounds help you restore your gel coat or marine paint back to its former glory. The Level R product from Starke is the #1 selling cutting compound in its class, and boy does it deliver. In your detailing kit, you can also include a medium-level cutting compound like Elevate to follow up after your heavy cut compounding jobs. The next product in the kit is a good polish to help restore your boat’s glossy finish. Depending on how glossy you want your boat, you must include a sealant product like Starke Revolution, Hyper Hold or Hybrid Marine sealant to enhance the gloss and protect the boat from damaging elements. Call us on how to use these products with the appropriate pads: 

Pad Spur Cleaner

The spur tool is your answer the revitalizing and getting longer life out of your polisher compound and and buffing pads. The purpose of the spur cleaner is to break apart any hardened bits of product remaining on your pads. The tool does a great job at fluffing up the fibers of your pads getting them ready for their next use. Overall, the spur cleaner is a great little investment for revitalizing your pads and extending their lifetime value. 

Degreasers and Cleaners

Degreasers are cleaning agents and solutions used to remove oily,  greasy particles from the surface of boats, as well as engine compartments. Follow up a degreaser with a standard cleaning product to ensure a deep clean finish. 

Glass Cleaner

If there are glass parts in your boat, you need a glass cleaner in your boat detailing kit. A standard surface cleaner is not sufficient to clean the glass surfaces. A glass cleaner is specially made to clean the glass surface without any scratches or marks. It contains chemicals capable of removing stains from glass. 

Hard water Spot Remover

Boats and yachts suffer splashes of hard water and salt water that bring mineral deposits to their surfaces. Mineral deposits and superficial dirt require special cleaners known as hard water spot removers. Get a hard water spot cleaner to clean your boat areas that have mineral deposits and hard water spots.

PVA Towel “Synthetic Shammy”

The PVA towel is a must-have for boat detailers and DIYers. It absorbs 50% more water than ordinary towels, making it an excellent tool for wiping wet surfaces. PVA towels are mold-resistant and do not leave any residue or streaks on the surface while drying the boat. Made with durable PVA material, the chamois towel works like a hyper-absorbent sponge soaking up water fast and effortlessly. 

Microfiber Cleaner Cloth

The microfiber cleaning cloth is made of nonscratching microfibers that are gentle on all surfaces. The microfibers have an ultra-absorbent capacity that catches dust and absorbs water. In addition, microfiber cleaners are machine washable and reusable. 

Summing Up

These are the essential starter items that professionals and DIYers must have in their boat detailing kits. For more information on some of the items mentioned in this article, you can watch the following video, as well as give us a call (800) 248-6130 to help you establish your boat detailing and cleaning kit.

May 16, 2022 — John TenBrink