Best Practices to Maintain Vinyl Boat Seats
Have you ever had a day on the water and come back to harbor only to discover your seats have been scuffed by a big dirty shoe print? Maybe you've left your boat sitting for a while and didn't clean it before docking? Cue the mildew. These problems can be unsightly and unseemly, but today we have the solutions to clean vinyl seats.
Mildew can be dissuaded a bit with a boat dehumidifier container, but it generally only works indoors and won't help you on the deck.
Vinyl is the most popular material for any sort of seat on a watercraft. It's durable, feels nice and is water-resistant at worst and water-proof at best.
It seems like vinyl is a match made in heaven for any sort of upholstery work that needs to be done on your boat. Cleaning vinyl seats is pretty simple, but there are some definite don'ts.
Despite vinyl being such a tough and easygoing fabric, I've seen a lot of people make mistakes that can compromise the integrity of the material. This leads to much shorter longevity and sometimes loss of color.
I've had people complain to me about their vinyl seats only to discover that they were making some extreme missteps in cleaning vinyl seats. This article will help you avoid making the same mistakes.
Dry, dry, dry.
Once you've set out to clean vinyl seats, you need to come prepared. Generally, all the preparation required is a damp cloth, your chosen cleaning solution and a dry towel to ensure that your vinyl seats aren't left a sopping mess.
That's my first tip to clean vinyl seats: Dry them properly. If water pools in the seams, you're in for mildew.
It might seem strange to start with the last step first, but it needs to be addressed right out of the gate. Mildew is a huge problem when it comes to keeping clean vinyl seats, and it is extremely difficult to solve on your own. If you end up with mold in your seats, it might be best to throw some money at professional reupholstery.
Or you can simply buy a new boat seat. Though that solution is rarely ideal.
It's a much better idea to keep it from occurring in the first place. That's why we're starting with the drying in our tips for cleaning vinyl seats. It's much easier to not use as much cleaning solution than it is to clean up a ton of excess that you weren't aware might damage your seats in some form or fashion.
So using your slightly damp cloth wipe the seats down while not neglecting the sides, back, and seams. Even better than just a simple damp cloth? Boat cleaning wipes with a sealant and UV protectant built right in! You can clean vinyl seats and give them a layer of protection at the same time.
Choose the right cleaning solution
Oh, the horror stories I've heard of some cheap Charlie that thought they could save a few bucks by attacking their vinyl seats with bleach and a pad of steel wool. I shudder at the thought. To clean vinyl seats you need to utilize the right cleaning product, or be at risk of wearing away the structural integrity of the vinyl itself!
Even supposedly "lighter" cleaning solutions such as Windex or that old Navy favorite Simple Green will deteriorate vinyl over repeated uses. You definitely don't want to end up with a color-faded seat, especially one covered in duct tape patches for the myriad tears that will start developing once the vinyl seat starts to give.
Of course, reupholstering every few years isn't an option for most of us either, so the only solution left to clean vinyl seats is a cleaner that doesn't use harsh chemicals and can protect your seats properly. Enter marine leather conditioner!
Our marine leather/vinyl cleaner is so gentle that it will not degrade seats or trim even after years of use. It adds moisture to restore color, and leaves a UV resin that will prevent the color from being stripped away. When I hear horror stories of bleach and ammonia, this is what I recommend. It just works.
Scrub, but don't SCRUB!
Alright, so we've gone over the cleaning and drying process but there is one more thing that we need to cover. I mentioned at the very beginning about a scuffed seat. After a few rounds, people start wanting to kick their feet up on anything available. I don't blame anyone because I do the exact same thing, but it still leaves marks.
Check out these premium boat scuff magic erasers. They make removing these unsightly marks an absolute snap. Stay away from those green scrubbing pads and especially steel wool, and be amazed at how quickly these magic erasers can clean vinyl seats. They can work anywhere else on your boat as well!
You won't find anything safer or easier. Speaking of scrubbing, when you're using the ultra-safe cleanser we mentioned, you should pair it with an equivalent brush. This high-quality cleaning brush set includes one nylon brush for general cleaning and a gentler horsehair brush for any detailing that needs to get done.
Your scrubbing shouldn't be overly vigorous. The cleaning brush set above does wonders at helping you to apply just the right amount of force. With the arsenal of four simple items I've suggested, you'll be prepared for any difficulties that might be presented. Mother Nature will cower in fear at your cleaning prowess!
Maintain Vinyl Seats Properly
While the vinyl seats of your neighbors will slowly lose color and develop rips and tears, you can stand proud knowing that you've put the proper care and investment toward clean vinyl seats.
When the time comes for them to reupholster their seats, or if they ask how you maintain yours so well, don't hesitate to lead them to this article and all of our amazing boating products. They'll be sure to thank you for it.