How to Clean Marine Vinyl Seats

David Goldman

marine vinyl -

How to Clean Marine Vinyl Seats

Keeping your marine vinyl seats clean is important for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest reasons being that it will help extend the life of your boat seats. Your seats will look nice and last longer, which are some great reasons to keep them clean.

You need to make sure that you’re using the right products when you clean your vinyl seats, while avoiding products that can be harmful. We’re going to go over some products that are safe to use, and which ones you shouldn’t use.

The biggest thing is to find a cleaning routine that you can consistently stick to. In this post we’re going to go over everything you need to know to effectively clean your marine vinyl seats.

Products to Use

Products Used to Clean Marine Vinyl Seats - MarineVinylFabric

We’ve put together a list of some cleaning products that can help you clean your vinyl seats. These products are safe to use and shouldn’t cause any problems or damage to your vinyl:

    • Dish soap and warm water - This is the safest way to clean your vinyl, and works very well in most cases.
    • Marine 31 - This product works well when it comes to removing mold. It takes some scrubbing, but it can help remove mold and help your seats look like new.
    • 3M Vinyl Cleaner/Protectant Cream - This product does a great job cleaning your vinyl seats, while also adding a protectant layer to the vinyl.
    • 303 Aerospace Protectant - This product works well to help remove mold and dirt on the surface of the vinyl.
  • Malco Leather Plastic Cleaner - Many professionals use this product, and it can be found on Amazon.


Products to Avoid

Here are some common products that people are tempted to use when it comes to cleaning their boat seats, but they should be avoided at all costs:

  • Power Washer - Power washers are dangerous to use with your vinyl seats because of the amount of pressure it has. It can cause the vinyl to rip.
  • Magic Eraser - This can help remove a lot of dirt and marks on your vinyl, but it comes with a cost. Along with the dirt and marks, it will also remove the protective outer coating.
  • Degreasers - This is another type of product that will help your seats look nice and clean, but will wipe away the protective coating.
  • Bleach - Bleach is another product that will do a good job of cleaning your seat, but can also cause some damage. It will likely remove protective layers from the vinyl.
  • Goo B Gone - This is another tempting product to use as it does a great job of removing messes, but it will also remove the protective layers.
  • Household cleaners - Most household cleaners are too strong and harmful for vinyl. Be sure to only use dish soap, or cleaners that are specifically made for marine vinyl use.

Now that you know which products you should and shouldn’t be using, let’s get into how you should be cleaning your marine vinyl seats.

Routine Cleaning

You should come up with a solid cleaning routine that you can stick to for your boat seats. This is something you should be regularly doing to make sure you’re keeping your seats clean.

In an ideal world, you would be cleaning your seats after each time you use your boat, but this isn’t always possible. We would recommend doing a quick cleaning of your boat seats twice a month. This is a happy medium that will help ensure you’re keeping your boat seats in good shape.

Your routine cleaning should consist of using warm water and some dish soap. This is going to be the best way to safely clean your vinyl seats. A simple wipedown with dish soap and water twice a month will make a big difference. You may need to do some harder scrubbing to clean up the messier areas, but it’s way better than using some of the harmful household cleaners.

Make sure that you completely dry your seats when you’re done cleaning them. Keeping them as dry as possible is an important step.

Deep Cleaning

You shouldn’t need to do a deep cleaning on your boat seats too often. Really the only times you need to do a deep cleaning are when you’re putting your boat away for the winter, taking it out, and as needed. By as needed, we’re referring to when any sort of big spills or stains occur.

A deep cleaning should work very similar to your routine cleans. They’re just used when you need a little extra help to get the job done.

You should always try starting with warm water and dish soap, but you may run into scenarios where that doesn’t quite do the job. 

That’s where using products like Marine 301 and 3M Vinyl Cleaner can definitely come in handy. Just make sure that you’re using products that are specifically made for vinyl use. 

I’ve said it already, but I’m going to say it again. Don’t attempt to use household cleaners on your vinyl seats as it will likely cause more damage than it will help.

Wipe Seats Down Until Dry

You shouldn’t let your vinyl seats air dry when you’re done cleaning them. Make sure you wipe them down until they’re completely dry.

This is something you should do as often as you can. Not necessarily just when you’re done cleaning them. For example, if you’re out on the boat and notice that your seats get relatively wet, it would be a good idea to do a quick wipe down so that they can dry as quickly as possible.

Keeping your boat seats dry will help avoid mold and mildew from forming. Mold and mildew can be a big challenge to remove, so it’s important that you keep your seats as dry as you can.

Use Protectants

Protectants are a great way to extend the life of your vinyl seats. We recommend using them after you’re done with routine cleans on your seats. The protectants add an extra layer to the vinyl that helps protect the seats.

There are some great protectants out there that you can use. Some that we’ve found work well are the Starbrite marine vinyl treatment and 303 Aerospace Protectant.

You don’t need to apply a protectant every time you clean your vinyl, but getting into the habit of using them every once in a while can make a big difference for your marine vinyl seats.

Preventing Mold/Mildew

Mold and mildew are a big reason that boat seats deteriorate and need to be replaced. If you can take some preventative steps, you can avoid mold and mildew from forming in the first place.

Here are four things you can do to prevent mold and mildew from forming on your seats:

  1. Wipe down your seats twice a month
  2. Don’t leave things on your boat seat
  3. Cover your boat with a cover that has ventilation
  4. Make sure to keep your seats as dry as possible

The biggest reason mold and mildew form is because of moisture being trapped on the seats. That’s why it’s so important to follow these steps to keep your seats dry when you’re not using them.

Preventing Fading and Cracking

The biggest cause of fading and cracking in your vinyl is sun exposure. Extended sun exposure can cause a lot of damage to your seats that can’t be repaired. 

It’s usually impossible to repair vinyl once it has faded or cracked, so you’ll want to do everything you can to protect it from UV rays.

The best way to handle this is to cover your boat when you’re not using it. This helps protect the vinyl so that it’s not receiving direct sunlight for too long. Make sure that your cover has proper airflow and ventilation so that moisture doesn’t get trapped inside.

Replacing Seat Cushions

If you’re properly cleaning your seats and catching spills and stains in time, then you shouldn’t need to replace your cushions too frequently. However, if you don’t take proper care of your seats, mold and mildew can form and cause deeper issues.

Another irreparable issue that you can come across is fading and cracking due to excess sun exposure. As we mentioned earlier, do your best to keep your seats out of direct sunlight for too long.

If you have damage that can’t be repaired, you may need to replace the cushions on your seats.

Quick Recap

Keeping your marine vinyl seats clean is a big step in extending the life of them.

Here are the most important steps to follow to make sure you’re keeping your boat seats clean and in good shape:

Steps to Clean Marine Vinyl Seats - MarineVinylFabric

  • Routine cleaning - Find a good routine (about twice a month) to clean your boat seats with warm water and dish soap.
  • Deep cleaning - Perform a deep clean on your boat with some mild cleaners before you store it away for the winter, and when you have bigger spills and stains.
  • Wipedown until dry - Make sure that you keep your seats dry by wiping them down whenever they get wet.
  • Use protectants - Protectants provide an additional layer for your vinyl that will help protect the vinyl and extend the life of the boat seats.
  • Preventing mold/mildew - Keep your seats dry to avoid moisture being trapped. This is the biggest cause of mold and mildew.
  • Preventing fading and cracking - Make sure to keep your seats out of the sun when you’re not using them. Use a cover that has good ventilation.

  • These are the most important steps to keep you boat seats clean. If you follow these steps, your boat seats will continue to look fresh for a long period of time.

    Don't let these factors fade your vinyl seats! Grab your dish soap and water, follow our cleaning tips, and seats that will last for years! If you have any questions or need expert advice, our expert team at is always available to help you. Feel free to call us at (312) 300-6737 or email us at

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