Similar to many areas in your home, the COVID-19 virus can linger on your boat’s surfaces for up to five days. Therefore, many of the same disinfecting practices you use in the home can be used to clean your boat. Since most boats include a variety of mixed materials, we thought we’d compile this helpful guide to cleaning your boat!

How To Disinfect Hard Surfaces On Your Boat

The CDC recommends three steps to disinfecting hard surfaces such as countertops, plastic, and metals.

  • Clean or scrub surfaces using soap and water

  • Use a household disinfectant or solution

  • Allow the surface to stay wet for the period of time specified on the label. Wipe dry (optional) 

On a boat try to avoid bleach or other harsh disinfectants on these surfaces as other materials on your boat may be unintentionally harmed. As many boaters know these practices do not suit all materials on a boat. Some materials may need special consideration.


How To Disinfect Vinyl Upholstery On Your Boat or Yacht

Typical household cleaners are not recommended for vinyl upholstery. Disinfecting these high use areas may be more time consuming, as it is not recommended to use any alcohol-based or bleach solutions.

  • First, use a soft-bristled brush or a dampened microfiber cloth to clean the area with dish soap and warm water. 


  • Second rinse with cold water. 


  • Lastly, dry if desired. It should be noted rinsing is crucial otherwise any COVID-19 germs that were not broken down by the soap could linger.

How To Disinfect Your Boat’s Leather Upholstery

Leather is notoriously difficult to clean and disinfect, however,  soap and warm water is the best approach.

  • Start by mixing a solution of a 5:1 ratio of dish soap to warm water

  • Dampen a microfiber cloth and wipe down leather surfaces. Do not use a spray bottle. 

  • Dry the surfaces as soon as possible as too much direct moisture can be damaging to leather.

How To Disinfect Varnished Wood

Many boats have varnished wood accents, and wood needs special care during cleaning as the polyurethane is easily broken down.


  • First dampen a cotton ball and apply a drop of dish soap and wipe on a part of the varnish not easily viewable.

  • If the area looks marred do not continue. If not it is safe to use a dish soap and water mixture and a sponge. Use light pressure. 

  • Wipe dry as soon as possible.

How To Disinfect Your Boat’s Fabric Upholstery

To disinfect fabric upholstery, you should first remove the covering from the cushion and check for tags. Some covers may be machine washable, you should check for labels with care instructions such as allowing the cover to air dry to avoid shrinkage. If your upholstery covers are not machine washable follow these steps:

  • Mix equal parts dish soap and warm water in a large bucket. 

  • Scrub the surface with the warm soapy solution

  • Allow ample time to air dry before sitting or using these surfaces again.

Do you have any favorite cleaning tips for your boat that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below or reach out to us at Info@KellyBoat.com! 

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