top of page

ONLY Wash Your Boat with These Products!!!

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

Top Dock Pro - December 4, 2021


Are you struggling to keep your boat clean? Or perhaps you aren't sure of the products you are using, are they even safe for your boat? Take a deep breathe, you are NOT alone! Today, we will discuss what to look for when finding the perfect boat soap!

I mean after all, who would have thought there would be this much confusion in something as simple as washing your boat? Maybe you don't even know you are washing your boat with the wrong products! If the boats clean, that's all that matters, right? Think again... Wash and wax? Dish soap? Degreaser? Multipurpose cleaner? SiO2 soap concentrate? Ph neutral soap? Ceramic wash? And the list goes on...

Okay but really, let's talk about proper washing for your vessel. Boats are an investment into your enjoyment and entertainment! Life is too short to not buy a boat! But guess what? Boats are high maintenance! As a boat owner who wants to be hands-on, it's time you invest into your knowledge. Like RIGHT NOW! Please don't wait any longer! You need to hear this...

And even if you don't want to maintain your boat personally, you should still understand the good from the bad to protect your boat from potential damage. It's okay to ask your local boat washer what kind of products they are washing your boat with! It's your boat after all, don't assume someone knows best! Also, don't assume the internet knows best! We all fall into this trap sometimes.

So what should you NOT wash your boat with? Here's a list and some are more harmful than others!

  • Acidic soaps and solutions

  • Dish soap

  • Degreaser

  • Bleach (AVOID)

  • Multipurpose cleaner

  • Any bathroom, kitchen, or household related products (AVOID)

  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner (NEVER ever use this!)

  • Muriatic Acid

  • Ez on Ez off

  • Any products containing hydrogen chloride

(Never Use)

If I had to guess, you've probably used one of these products to clean your boat? It's okay, I'll admit that I have and I still do at times. I'll explain why later... but today we learn. What's the issue with most of these products above? Well, they are all either acids or bases. That means they are corrosive and can be dangerous not only to your boat, but also to you. Sure they do an excellent job at cleaning, but at what cost? In the short-term not much. But in the long-term they eat away your gelcoat! Gelcoat is NOT a toilet, it's NOT a dish, it's NOT a kitchen countertop. This is the trap you need to AVOID! Almost everyone is looking for the quick solution to their problems. These products listed above also remove waxes, polymers, and low-grade ceramic coatings from your boat.

During regular washing and maintenance, acids or bases are NOT to be used on your boat. Weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, you name it, you do NOT use these products listed above. Also, while your boat actively has waxes, polymers, or ceramic coatings, you do NOT use these products above. Okay, got it? If not, read this paragraph again and the one above!

Now that we know there are potential dangers of acids and bases on gelcoat long-term, we can talk about the rare instances when it's necessary to use one of these products.

  1. Before buffing or wet sanding an oxidized boat

  2. To assist in removing old waxes/coatings

  3. To remove oils from compounds/polishes

  4. To remove marine growth on the hull

Aside from these FOUR instances listed directly above, there's really no exceptions for using acids or bases to wash your boat. Remember, it's the long-term damage of these products listed above, not the short-term. Use this information accordingly, and keep these harmful products away from your boat! As a detailer, we run into these situations the most, and it's important we make educated decisions for our client. As a boat owner, you may at times, but now you know exactly what actions to take!

Now for the fun part! Stay with me, this next part will give you all the info you need to maintain your boat like a professional! Here I will talk about what you should regularly use to wash and maintain your boat plus a few products to get you started!

What's the ultimate product to use on your boat? Anytime? No harm? It's PH balanced soap! Also known as PH neutral soap. This is key to protecting your boat! Why? Well, it won't damage your gelcoat and it won't remove any protection you have on your boat currently. This is the soap you will be regularly using almost 100% of the time while you are a boat owner. It's safe, it cleans without damage, and it's safer for the environment.

Now here are three more soaps. The 3 soap solutions that overwhelm or perhaps excite people... do they live up to the hype? Let's find out...

  1. Wash and wax soap

  2. Si02 soap concentrate

  3. Ceramic wash

Let's relate these products to another industry so you can better understand! Basically, these wash products are like the 2-1 or 3-1 shampoo and conditioner's you buy at the store to clean your hair. What's the benefit? Saves you time and it's cheaper. What's the drawback? Not as effective, doesn't last as long. Unfortunately... it's the same here. It's really a marketing campaign to get you to buy something that sounds good and saves you money! Who doesn't want to hear that? Right... so let's talk about this.

Wash and wax. When it comes to wash & wax soap... this is where it gets controversial. Some people are hooked, and some people just aren't. Let's not be self-deceived. For example, If you bought a brand new Contender 39 ST and used wash and wax soap, what will you say? The boat looks great and you'll love the product. "It works", you claim! If you take that same boat, 10 years old, and it's been sitting in the Florida heat without a proper detail. You probably aren't going to be a fan of the wash and wax. Actually, you'll think it really sucks! HAHAHA. Does this make sense? You will benefit more from a proper detail! Wash and wax products are not meant to replace a detail! They are made for easy maintenance after a detail.

Look, wash and wax soaps also may not be ph balanced! Which means they can strip away your wax or polymer sealants. Sorry! Check before you purchase a product like this! Also wash and wax soaps are best kept to waxed boats only. There are better wash and topper products for polymer sealants and ceramic coatings. We will never use a wash & wax soap at Top Dock Pro because we don't wax boats. Keep in mind the wax contained in these wash products are almost always low-grade and again... should never replace a proper detail.

Sio2 soap concentrate is another product you can use to help maintain your boat after a proper detail. Sio2 infused soaps have better bonding agents than a wash and wax soap due to the chemicals contained in the product. These types of soaps are water activated which allow the silicas to bond to your vessel during the wash process. These soaps can be to utilized to enhance your boat when the gelcoat has an active polymer sealant or ceramic coating. Again, and I will continue to say, this should never replace a proper detail or you will be unsatisfied with the results.

Ceramic wash? This can be similar to Sio2 soap concentrate, but it's also more controversial as well. It's possible the cleaning agents in a ceramic wash may not be ph neutral. Why is this okay? Because most ceramic coatings (9H and 10H) are formulated to handle high ph solutions. Always check prior to purchasing. Also check what the bonding agent in the product is to make sure it's not just an aggressive cleaner with no coating contained in the soap. Ceramic wash products should not contain wax in them. Ceramic coatings and waxes do not bond together. You are looking for Sio2 technology or nano technology that has the capability to bond to a ceramic coating. Always read labels and never assume anything. All brands are different and label their products differently. Again, this product should never replace a proper detail.

Okay, some quick notes before we wrap this up! Stick with me for just another minute! First, we hope you took away some information today that you can imitate in the real world on your boat! If not, maybe this will allow you to make better informed decisions when it comes to hiring out your boat washing & detailing. We strived to make this information simple to understand, so you can take the necessary actions starting today!

Now to summarize.

  1. Don't use acids or bases on your boat. Only in rare instances. And when's that? Before buffing or wet sanding an oxidized boat. To assist in removing old waxes / coatings. To remove oils from compounds/polishes. To remove marine growth on the hull.

  2. AVOID using products that are NOT made for the marine industry! Toilet bowl cleaner, household cleaning products and bleach to name a few. Check back to the list at the beginning to refresh your memory.

  3. PH balanced also known as PH neutral soap is always okay to use on your boat at anytime. This is what you will use to clean your boat almost 100% of the time.

  4. The 3 products to wash your boat with to save you time and money. Wash and wax soap, Sio2 soap concentrate, and ceramic wash. Use these accordingly to match the protection on your boat and never use these products as a replacement for a proper detail.

  5. The top 3 recommend PH balanced products. Starke Pure Clean. West Marine Boat Soap, and Smoove Ultimate Boat Wash.

Starke Pure Clean West Marine Boat Soap Smoove Ultimate Boat Wash

To learn more about boat cleaning and detailing tips follow us on YouTube. Want to keep up on our day-to-day projects? Or maybe learn a quick tip? You can do so by following us on our other social media platforms listed below. Until next time!

99 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page