By: Barry Berhoff
How important is the water quality when it comes to washing my boat?
Water quality is probably the most important — but least talked about — factor in boat care. Every area gets its water from a different source, and the water is treated differently. So at a city dock, you may have very hard water, while at a home dock the water might be milder but contain iron or sulfur due to the water source.
The purer the water you have, the better the boat will turn out. Additionally, pure water with very little hardness will dry completely spot-free. The general way to measure the quality of the water is with a TDS meter. If you do not have one, take a sample to a local water or pool-care company, and the people there should be able to tell you about the make-up of your water.
The ideal would be to have water below 50 TDS, as this is spotless — you don’t even need to dry it. TDS of 50 to 150 is good. Water above 170 is considered hard, and you will want to get an inline softener for your hose. Water above 250 is very hard. Most inline hose softeners may not be able to keep up and will need to be recharged frequently.
Remember, the harder your water, the smaller the area you want to work, drying it quickly so you don’t leave hard-water deposits. Be very diligent about this with your glass, too.