Tips to Protect Marine Vinyl

David Goldman

marine vinyl -

Tips to Protect Marine Vinyl


You spent a lot of money on your marine vinyl, so you must take the right steps to protect it and prevent damage. Repairing damages and removing stains is difficult to do, so be sure to take the right preventative steps with your marine vinyl fabric.

The good news is that there are plenty of steps you can take to avoid running into issues with your vinyl. We’re going to go over some of the most important things to consider if you’re using marine vinyl on your boat.

9 Best Tips to Protect Marine Vinyl

Let’s go ahead and dive into our most important tips to protect your vinyl.

#1 Keep it Clean

Keeping your marine vinyl clean will help prevent a lot of issues. This is not only referring to cleaning up any messes or spills that occur but also doing some basic cleaning regularly after using your boat.

The best way to clean your vinyl seats is to use dish soap and water. Ideally, you’d be cleaning your seats after each use, but we know that’s not always possible. At a bare minimum, make sure you’re cleaning your seats twice a month. This is a good way to prevent mold and mildew from growing and causing damage.

Dish soap and water are going to be your safest option when cleaning the vinyl. You can also use marine cleaner to clean the seats, just be careful that you’re not using anything too harsh. Using household cleaning products and bleach can cause serious damage to the vinyl, and can also remove the outer protective layer.

#2 Use Gentle Cleaners

As we mentioned, your number one option should always be some dish soap and water for cleaning your vinyl. Sometimes that doesn’t quite get the job done though. In that case, feel free to use some gentle cleaners.

Marine 31 is a good vinyl cleaning option. It doesn't cause any damage and removes dirt and stains.

#3 Properly Cover

This is one of our most important tips for protecting your marine vinyl fabric. Properly covering your vinyl seats can make all the difference in maintaining the quality of your vinyl.

Before getting into exactly how you should be covering your vinyl, I want to quickly go over why it’s so important. 

Sun is the #1 cause of fading and cracking in vinyl seats. Exposing your seats to the sun for too long will cause damage to the seats over time. Covering your seats helps prevent sun damage.

Damage and stains to your seats will often occur due to moisture being trapped in them. Properly covering your seats won’t allow for moisture to be trapped, avoiding any issues there.

The most important step in covering your seats is to ensure there is proper air circulation. The two best ways to do this are to either use a breathable fabric or make sure your cover has a vent cap. The air circulation will ensure moisture doesn’t get trapped and cause damage.

If you’re storing your boat for an extended period of time, it’s even more crucial to be sure your cover provides adequate ventilation.

#4 Avoid Harsh Cleaners

Avoid any temptation to use harsh cleaners on your vinyl. Even if you’re having trouble cleaning your seats, you’ll give yourself more issues when using harsh cleaners.

Here are some cleaning products to avoid:

  • Household cleaners
  • Bleach
  • Goo B Gone
  • Degreasers
  • Magic Eraser
  • 409

These products will generally do more harm than good for your vinyl. They may do a better job of cleaning the vinyl, but it will significantly harm the vinyl and reduce the lifespan.

Instead of using some of these cleaners, try using a little more elbow grease with your dish soap and warm water. If that doesn’t work, you should be able to make some progress with the Marine 31 cleaner we mentioned earlier.

#5 Use a Vinyl Protectant

After cleaning your vinyl, we recommend using a vinyl protectant. Hence the name, it will protect your vinyl from damage. The vinyl protectants generally absorb UV light and repel dirt and oil to ensure your vinyl stays in good shape. 

If you aren’t able to use a vinyl protectant after each time you clean the vinyl, make sure you’re using it at least once a month.

The best products we have found to extend the life of marine vinyl are the Starbrite marine vinyl treatment and 303 Aerospace protectant. 

Spray the protectant on and wipe it into the seats using a towel. When doing this, make sure you’re using enough product, and rub it into the seats. This helps get the product into the pores of the vinyl. After you’ve applied the protectant and rubbed it in, let it dry for 30 minutes before using.

#6 Don’t Leave Anything on Seats

Make sure you remove anything on the seats when they aren’t in use. Leaving things on the vinyl seats can cause discoloration and damage. Even just a few days can cause some irreversible damage to your vinyl, so make sure to keep the seats clear.

This not only applies to leaving objects on the seat but also to sunscreen and oil that may rub off onto the seats. This can cause damage if it’s not cleaned up. That’s a big reason why it’s so important to clean and dry your seats at least twice a month.

#7 Keep it Dry

Trapped moisture can cause all sorts of issues for your vinyl. It can significantly damage your seats, cause stains to appear, and grow mold and mildew.

Keeping your vinyl as dry as possible is a big step in protecting it. Your vinyl can certainly get wet, but what we’re talking about is keeping it dry when it’s not in use. Moisture being trapped on seats over a long period is what can cause problems.

Make sure your seats are dry after each use, and after cleaning them. Simply use a dry towel and wipe down the seats to make sure no moisture is being left behind. 

#8 Ventilation and Air Flow

We’ve talked about this one a little bit, but that’s because it’s so important. Lack of ventilation and airflow when covering boats and seats is a huge cause of mold and mildew growth.

Using breathable fabric and vent caps in your covering is the best way to do this. This allows for air circulation which allows for excess moisture to escape.

#9 Properly Store

Storing your boat for long periods of time is where many people notice some of their issues come up.

Here are the main causes:

  1. They didn’t properly clean their vinyl
  2. They didn’t dry their vinyl
  3. They didn’t have proper ventilation

Make sure each of these procedures is completed before storing your boat, or you may find that your vinyl is damaged the next time you try to use your boat.

If you have any removable vinyl seats, removing them from your boat and storing them separately is another helpful way to protect the vinyl.

9+ Tips to Protect Marine Vinyl - MarineVinylFabric

Quick Recap

Take action to protect your marine vinyl before the issues arise. You’ll notice that it’s so much harder to remove stains, mold, and mildew than it is to properly protect the vinyl right away.

The four most important ways to protect your vinyl are:

  1. Regularly cleaning it
  2. Keeping it dry
  3. Properly covering it
  4. Keep it ventilated

If you’re going to use cleaners for your vinyl, make sure you’re using something gentle. Dish soap, water, and marine cleaner will be your best options. Be sure to avoid some of the more harsh cleaners like bleach and household cleaners.

I hope these tips help you protect your marine vinyl and avoid any damages that need to be repaired. If you want any personalized assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us or call us at (312) 300-6737. At MarineVinylFabrics.Com, our dedicated team is always ready to assist you. 




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