The Only Boat Canvas Care Guide You’ll Ever Need

The Only Boat Canvas Care Guide You’ll Ever Need

May 31, 2024
The Only Boat Canvas Care Guide You'll Ever Need

While a damaged canvas may not necessarily keep you in your slip, it will have a big effect on the quality of your outing — and leaving your cockpit exposed to the elements is asking for more trouble down the road.

A fabric boat cover can last many years with the proper care and maintenance. So, what should you do? Let’s dive in.

Keeping Your Boat Cover in Good Condition

As a boater, you’re likely already familiar with the concept of preventive maintenance, or performing routine maintenance checks at scheduled intervals to prevent existing mechanical or structural issues from becoming bigger problems. Preventive maintenance is just as important for your boat cover as it is for your engine, propellers and hull integrity.

These little maintenance tips can help you keep your boat cover in the best possible condition:

  • Perform regular visual inspections: At least once a month, inspect your boat cover for broken or missing parts. You’ll want to repair or replace them right away to prevent bigger, more expensive repairs in the short and long term.
  • Keep it clean: Gently cleaning your boat cover with mild soaps every few months can help you prevent stains and preserve the protective coatings on the canvas.
  • Follow the instructions: Boat manufacturers build each part of a boat for a specific purpose, which is why you should only use your cover according to the instructions found in your manual. For example, you don’t want to use a regular boat cover for outdoor winter storage because it’s not built to withstand the cold and ice.

Tips for Cleaning Your Boat Cover

Whether you’re cleaning a custom fabric cover or a Bimini top, gentleness should be top of mind. Any harsh detergents, pressure washing or aggressive scrubbing can damage your boat cover’s protective lining and cause it to wear out faster. Here’s a quick overview of how to care for a canvas boat cover or Bimini enclosure.

How to Clean a Canvas Boat Cover

How to Clean a Canvas Boat Cover

For a quick cleaning, take a dry rag or bench brush and gently brush away any dirt, bug splatters or bird droppings. You’ll want to do this at least once a month to prevent stains — but you can brush it off more often if you prefer. You’ll also want to give all fasteners, clips and zippers a quick once-over with a damp rag or brush any time you notice dirt and debris.

If your canvas needs a deeper clean, follow these steps:

  1. Wet the canvas: Use a gentle stream of water, such as from a garden hose, to thoroughly wet your canvas. Pay special attention to any seams where the canvas is folded or doubled up, as these areas are harder to clean.
  2. Apply soap: Gently work in a mild detergent, like Dawn, Ivory, Woolite or Iosso, with a soft brush or cloth.
  3. Let soak: Allow the cleanser to soak into the canvas to break down the dirt.
  4. Brush again: Gently brush the canvas a second time to remove the deeper stains.
  5. Rinse and repeat: Thoroughly rinse your canvas with the same hose you used earlier. You may need to repeat this process several times to completely remove tough stains.
  6. Let dry: Allow your canvas boat cover to dry completely before continuing.
  7. Recondition: The water- and UV-resistant coatings on marine fabric break down over time, so treating your cover with a canvas reproofer after each wash can help you preserve its condition for longer. You’ll want to make sure the canvas is totally dry, and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight while it’s curing.

You can follow the same process for the fabric portion of a Bimini top.

How to Clean a Bimini Top on a Boat

Transparent Bimini curtains require a more delicate approach than the fabric cover. Like with marine fabric, you’ll want to avoid using harsh cleansers or excessive force. These products will create a hazy film on your windows that you may not be able to get rid of.

Instead, follow these simple steps:

  1. Gently rinse the curtains and apply a mild soap with a clean, soft cloth to get rid of any dust and grit that may have built up over time.
  2. Rinse and wipe dry with a clean microfiber cloth. Don’t let the panels air dry, as it can leave behind mineral deposits that can damage the curtains.
  3. Apply a plastic restorer with a foam applicator pad and buff it out with a fresh microfiber cloth. Wear gloves to protect your hands.
  4. Use another foam pad to apply a plastic polish and buff this out with another microfiber towel.
  5. Finally, treat your curtains with a gentle plastic conditioner and wipe away with a clean cloth.

In addition to rinsing off the metal frame after every boating trip, cleaning it at least once a year is also important for maintaining its shiny appearance. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to the process:

  1. Remove the fabric top from the frame to avoid staining it with cleaning product.
  2. Apply a gentle metal cleanser to the frame with a sponge or soft brush, carefully scrubbing away any spots or debris.
  3. Rinse thoroughly with a gentle stream of fresh water and wipe the frame dry using a soft cloth.
  4. Once the metal is dry, apply a boat metal polish and wax to create an extra layer of protection against corrosion.
  5. Remove any excess wax from the frame, then reinstall your fabric top.

Properly Storing Your Boat Cover

Whatever boat cover you have, make sure it’s clean and completely dry before storing it away. Damp fabric invites mold and mildew growth, and moisture can create a milky haze on clear Bimini curtains.

That’s especially important for Biminis made with Strataglass, which can easily become discolored and bent if not folded properly. The ideal technique for folding both canvas tops and Bimini curtains is to wrap them around a high-density foam cylinder to prevent them from getting crushed and crinkled in storage. We include these accessories with every boat, but you can also find them for sale online.

Finally, place your cover in a secure container to protect it from pests — if you purchased your boat from us, you’ll have received a canvas bag specifically designed for this purpose. You can also place it in a garbage can with a tight-fitting lid, which you can find at most home improvement stores.

Live Your Boating Dreams With Formula Boats

Lazing in the shade of your Bimini on a hot summer day or enjoying its protection when the wind is blowing and seas are high makes for more enjoyable boating — and a clean, tight, colorful cockpit cover sets off the rest of the graphics when the boat is docked. Following these pointers will help keep your canvas beautiful and in good working order for seasons to come.

If you’re still looking for your dream boat, though, Formula Boats can help you design a custom craft that fits your budget and fulfills your nautical dreams. Find your nearest Formula dealer or request a free catalog today to get started.

Live Your Boating Dreams With Formula Boats
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