Stay on top of Cleaning

By: Zuzana Prochazka

QuestionThe heat and humidity are really killing my canvas and Isinglass this summer. What really works to keep things clean and presentable?

AnswerFreshen up your cockpit canvas enclosure throughout the season, because it’s hot and humid even as you do your boating. Start with a washdown, and then attack stains with 303 Cleaner, which is specifically recommended by Sunbrella, or BoatLife’s Mildew Remover.

A good squeegee is an invaluable tool for windows and enclosures. One that goes by many names is the California jelly blade (at AutoZone) or Boat Blade (at West Marine). It’s a flexible silicon squeegee that bends and conforms to curves and odd shapes and won’t scratch surfaces. Finish up that Lexan or Isinglass with Plexus, a polish that reduces fogging and improves clarity. For acrylic windows such as Strataglass, check the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid damage or voiding the warranty, and never use ammonia-based cleaners (Windex) or paper towels, which are abrasive.

Give your cushions a scrub and make sure they’re dry inside and out every time you put your boat away for the week. Most vinyl cleaners will do a good job on stains and will bring vinyl back to life, restoring the luster and shine. Your problem may be high SPF or lots of wet weather. Check with BoatLife, West Marine or your chandlery for what they’d recommend based on your area.

Don’t forget the zippers — speaking from experience here. Zippers and snaps have a way of freezing up when they get caked with salt and dirt and don’t get used, sometimes even requiring replacement if you let them go too long. (I had to rip out two complete zippers after neglecting them for a season.) Rinse zippers thoroughly with water and let them dry, and then lubricate them with beeswax or silicone. Open and close them repeatedly to work the material in. Snap-Stick, which comes packaged like Chapstick, is another option for snaps and won’t stain the surrounding canvas.

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