How to Clean Marine Vinyl Fabric?

So last week I was having dinner with a friend of mine.

In between bites of Veggie Lo Mein, he asked me:

"How do you keep your boat clean? I’ve tried wiping it down, but my boat never looks as nice as your. What’s your secret?”

I'll tell you my secret. You need to treat boat seats like a small baby. You need to continuously clean and wipe them. You need to wipe them down with warm soapy water on a regular basis. Anytime someone spills on them or writes on them it's important to wipe it up right away. I always recommend the following.

  • Soap and Water - Warm Dish Soap and Water is the best way to safely clean Marine Vinyl. It may take some elbow grease, but if you clean your material every few weeks this method is the safest.
  • 3M Vinyl cleaner/protectant cream - This product is one of our favorites. It does a great job safely cleaning the surface of the Marine Vinyl Fabric and also adds a protectant layer to extend the life of the vinyl.
  • 303 Multi-Surface Cleaner - This product along with other mild cleaners are also ok to use.

Do Not and I repeat Do NOT Clean Marine Vinyl With Any Of The Following

  • POWER WASHER - Some people like to use a power washer on their vinyl, but this will damage the upholstery as it can pack too much pressure into one spot and can cause a rip in the material. 
  • MAGIC ERASER - Removes dirt, scuff marks and most anything that will be on your material including the protective outer coating. Some people will say this the best product to use, but be careful as it will remove more than you think.
  • Degreasers - This product will make your seats look very clean, but it will also wipe away layers of the protective coating weakening the material over time. Please note: degreasers might be necessary to clean up after extreme mold build up.  
  • Bleach - Bleach may appear to clean well for a time, but they clean by removing layers of finish along with the stained material on top of the finish. Vinyl is a porous material, similar to leather. The pores must be able to breathe, so be careful not to clog your vinyl's pores with suntan lotions, oils, etc. 
  • Goo B Gone - This product is great at removing sap, bird poop and other hard to remove messes, but this product will also remove the protective coating
  • 409 - Many People feel 409 and other cleaners are safe, but they really do more damage.
  • Gasoline - Many people will use gas as a cleaner as it will clean almost anything. This product is always available, but it's flammable stinks and is also to harsh for Marine Vinyl fabric.

Here are a few additional tricks that we have used. Disclaimer we only use these if we really have an issue that warm soapy water can't fix.

  • Pen Marks - Many people use marine vinyl as a table cloth in restaurants. Since most people pay with with a credit card pen marks become a huge problem. The good news is SUNSCREEN works wonders and will take pen marks out. Try It!

We hope you found this list helpful. Remember proper vinyl cleaning and maintenance increases the life of your boats interior. It is best to clean your boat every few weeks and keep it covered when not in use. When your boat seats are covered birds can't poop on it and the sun can't harm it. 

If you have any other questions about cleaning Marine Vinyl shoot us an email at

1 Response


April 06, 2016

Thanks for your post with great information.

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