How To Clean Boat Carpet – Stupid-Simple 2020 Cleaning Guide


how to clean boat carpet

What is the first thing that shows the age of your boat?

It’s the carpet, of course, if you have one that is. And we all know that cleaning, but it is a necessary thing to do.

So today, I am going to show you the best and simplest way of how to clean boat carpet.

And cleaning your carpet is especially important if you are winterizing a pontoon boat.

Here is why.

Your boat’s deck is the heart of your on-the-water fun. As such, you want to keep your pontoon carpet looking brand new.

Cleaning and maintaining that carpet to perfection should be at the top of your to-do list.

Do this right, and your boat will seemingly look young forever.

Don’t do this, and, well, you will quickly see for yourself why the carpet is said to be the very first thing to show its age with wear and tear.

Wet feet, muddy sneaker, smeared food, spilled drinks, saltwater splashes, and dried-up live bait and fish guts—wincing yet?

I certainly hope you are.

Keeping your carpet clean and spiffy does not need to be hard. Maintaining cleanliness, much like with your own body, is a very straightforward process once you know the basics.

In this carpet cleaning guide, you will find that keeping your pontoon boat carpeting clean is much easier than you thought.

By the way, if you feel like cleaning your carpet is not worth the time and effort, you can always change it by following the boat carpet replacement guide.

Keep Your Pontoon Carpet Clean

Look, we all know what a carpet is. However, in case you have forgotten why exactly it’s such a valuable item for you to have, let us quickly refresh by going over its chief benefits:

  • It covers your deck
  • Adds eye-pleasing appeal
  • Adds comfort

A dirty, damaged carpet, however, will not be able to fulfill the advantages of its well-kept equivalent. In case those benefits of a quality rug were not enough, let us now turn to the cons, so we know what exactly we are dealing with.

  • The cost. You already paid once for it. Why pay more to replace it?
  • It protects your deck. Much like the carpet, the deck is even more expensive to replace.
  • It adds value to your boat.

Things That Can Ruin Your Marine Carpet

Whether it is human feet or pet feet (wet, dry, dirty, or clean), all of that residue they carry and stomp into the pontoon carpet adds up. 

Furthermore, soil and stains can also do a number on your mat if you are not careful. Not only can dirt and stains make it look less quality, but they can also harbor bacteria and mold.

External Elements

Your carpet is consistently exposed to rain and sun regularly. If you do not store it properly in the winter, snow and ice will cause just as many problems.

Caring for your pontoon boat carpet will likely extend its life, prevent any mildew build-up, and reduce the potential for harmful bacteria.

Additionally, it can also maintain or even increase your boat’s value. Just think about it, who wants to buy a used boat with a rotten, nasty old carpet?

What all of this means for you, though, is that cleaning should be done regularly and done right.

What Is Your Pontoon Carpet Made Of?

First things first, it would be an advisable idea for you to check your carpet material, assess and see what exactly you are working with.

  • Does your carpet have marine-grade backing?
  • How about long-term UV protection?
  • Mold/mildew sealer?

If it does have long-term treatment with these different options, then you are all set to wash. Just be sure to check out the sealers and protectants. Make sure you do not end up using any chemicals that negate their effects or reduce their potency.

If your carpet does not have any such treatment whatsoever, though, you may want to consider applying the different sealers and protectants I will mention below.

Avoid Manufacturer Issues

Regardless of whether you know the answers to the questions above, you will still need to check your owner’s manual for your carpet-cleaning guidelines.

You do not want to ruin your pontoon carpet, after all. That goes double for any necessary strip sealants, or just voiding your warranty in general. These aspects are your first lines of defense should your carpet get into a rough patch.

Treat them as such.

How Is Your Carpet Attached To The Deck?

Here is another tidbit that your owner’s manual covers. It’s glue. In most cases, your pontoon carpet is glued to your deck.

You need to ask yourself while going through this process:

  • Is your pontoon carpet glue water-resistant?
  • Should you avoid certain cleaners and ingredients?
  • Can certain ingredients or cleaners void your warranty?
  • How often is carpet cleaning recommended?

How To Clean Boat Carpet

Remove Debris From Your Marine Carpet

Your pontoon deck is a busy place! It is where all the fun happens. However, once that fun is over, there is usually trash, dirt, and debris all over the place.

Pick up and remove all the trash, empty cans, half-empty water bottles, cigarette butts and any other apparent trash you see.

Next, remove all unsecured items in the way, such as chairs, coolers, umbrellas, and radios. Put those in one place, out of the way of the carpet as much as possible.

Create an ideal workspace for yourself and maximize the area of carpet you can work with at a time.

Broom And Dustpan

Yes, precisely what you are thinking—we are talking about a good, old-fashioned broom and dustpan combo.

Do not be fooled by how simple this may sound; a quality broom with a long-handled dustpan is a handy item to keep around. It can save you time, money, not to mention minimize back discomfort.

Dyson Cordless Vacuum

Now we’re talking!

A cordless stick (upright) vacuum is just about the most convenient way to pick up small pieces of debris and eliminate the annoyance of a cord.

No products found.

I would recommend that you buy a Dyson Cordless Vacuum. It’s a little pricey, but it is worth every penny.

Cordless Blower

A cordless blower is powerful enough to remove debris quickly and without a cord. There is another excellent benefit to the cordless blower.

Sale
DEWALT 20V MAX XR Blower, Brushless, 5-Ah Battery (DCBL720P1)
  • Brushless Motor maximizing motor efficiency and durability
  • Innovative axial fan design that maximizes on air output and run time
  • 400 CFM and 90 MPH performance

Give it to your kids. Nothing will make them feel more powerful than being able to blow away everything in sight!

Wet/Dry Vacuum

Wet and dry vacuums certainly do a great job of sucking up unwanted debris. And yes, they are great to have if your carpet is wet. But, remember, these routes will straight up not work if you do not have a way to plug them in.

Craftsman XSP 20 Gallon 6.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vac/Blower
  • Set includes a hose bracket set, cartridge filter, wet pickup foam filter, crevice tool, utility nozzle and floor/ squeegee nozzle combo Powered by a 6.5 peak HP motor to make easy work out of hard jobs
  • A large 20 gal. tank helps you vacuum more with less refilling The quick-empty liquid drain is perfect for cleaning up flooded basements
  • On-board organizers help you conveniently store your hose, accessories and power cord A total 27' reach, with the help of a 7' hose, 20' power cord and 2 extension wands, helps you clean up big job sites

There is a massive selection online to peruse through tons of different models, all of which might offer you the unique benefit you are searching for.

If you intend to use these vacuums for a long time, be sure you have a reliable, time-tested one that can walk the walk.

Removing Pontoon Carpet Stains

It is an unfortunate truth that pontoon carpet stains are unavoidable if you are enjoying your pontoon boat right. You are bound to get stains from so many different sources.

Here are some common ones to look out for:

  • Food stains and beverage spills
  • Blood (fishing)
  • Pets
  • Sand
  • Dirt
  • Mud
  • Mildew/mold/algae

Now, even though they are more like unwelcome guests living in your carpet, I am counting moss, mildew, and algae as stains here. Left to grow enough, they will leave all sorts of hideous stains behind.

If you have moss, mildew, and algae growing on your carpet and you do not know how to remove it yet, be sure to click here and read this guide on learning what steps you should take.

Commercial Boat Carpet Stain Remover

Your best and most economical path is to find a stain remover that is both safe and removes all types of stains. 

Spray Nine Marine Cleaner is a compelling and popular choice.

Spray Nine 26901S Marine Cleaner - 1 Gallon
  • A multi-purpose cleaner and disinfectant that works above and below deck
  • Kills germs, removes stains and yellowing and eliminates bacterial odors with little effort
  • Use regularly to control mold and mildew on vinyl, carpets and hard surfaces

Natural Cleaners

Carpet Natural Cleaners

If you don’t like chemicals and like to keep things natural, you can use white vinegar.

Here is how to use it:

  • Blot the stain to remove any excess
  • Spray an even mixture of white vinegar and water on the rug
  • Let it sit for 20 minutes
  • Using a medium-stiff brush, scrub the stain until removed
  • Repeat if necessary
  • Rinse with a water hose

Deep Cleaning Your Pontoon Boat Carpet

During your many epic boating seasons, the above steps are all ones you will want to take on a weekly or biweekly basis. Depending on how often you are using your boat, of course. All this will be sure to keep your carpet from sustaining any severe damage or staining.

Furthermore, approximately every month or so, you will need to do a deep clean.

Hand Scrubbing

With a stiff brush, a bucket, some gentle detergent (consult the detergent label and your boat owner’s manual), a water hose, and some elbow grease, you can deep clean your boat’s carpet, then let the sun dry it out.

That is just about as old-fashioned as you can get—one reliable, time-tested method you cannot go wrong with.

Pros: Inexpensive

Cons: Time consuming

Commercial/Rented Carpet Cleaner Or Steamer

For this one, check any cleaning companies you like to see if you can rent a commercial cleaner by the hour.

Sale
Bissell Big Green Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine, 86T3
  • Tank capacity 1.75 gallons; Extra large dirt lifter power brush for deep scrubbing action
  • Heavy duty suction power aids in fast drying time. Cleans on the forward and backward pass for reduced cleaning time and dries faster than the leading competitive rental carpet cleaners
  • Two large tanks for full room cleaning

Pros: Quick, efficient, serious deep cleans

Cons: Cost. It requires special detergent that can damage your pontoon carpet. It’s a piece of heavy equipment and needs access to electricity.

I have Bissell 86T3/86T3Q, and I’m pleased with it. Give it a shot or go with something that you think is right for you.

Pressure Wash Pontoon Carpet

Do you also already have a pressure washer for your car? Assuming you do, you can just use this as your primary instrument for the big deep clean. You can also consider renting one from a local cleaning company.

Pros: Uses water without detergent, deep cleans, and removes stains.

Cons: Must have access to a water hose, is heavy, the pressure can damage the carpet.

Commercial Carpet Cleaning Service

If you have a beautiful boat and do not trust yourself with the task at hand, you can always just turn to that local cleaning company. They will do a great job cleaning your boat for the right price.

Pros: They mostly do a great job, you don’t have to do it yourself.

Cons: Can be costly, use unknown detergents (unless you ask), that could harm your pontoon carpet.

Car Or Boat Wash

What if you live in an area where boating is popular? There is an excellent chance that you will also encounter car washes that already do cleaning services for boats. Or even dedicated boat wash companies altogether.

Be aware of such establishments, and do take advantage if you think it is worth your while.

Pros: Easy, convenient, and cheap.

Cons: Pressure can cause holes in the carpet; unknown detergents can cause dryness/brittleness over time, and the size of the wash bay may not be adequate for your boat.

Drying And Final Touches

Once you have removed the debris, removed stains and deep cleaned your pontoon carpet; it is time to dry and fluff the carpet. Proper drying can reduce the chances of mold, mildew, and moss growth.

To speed up the drying process, remove excess water with a wet/dry shop vacuum. Once you remove the excess water, let the sun do the rest.

Once the carpet is dry, “fluffing” will improve the appearance and texture of the rug that will achieve a look that looks almost as good as new. To pull off this excellent effect, do the following:

  • Use a medium bristle brush. (Soft bristles are not sufficient. On the other hand, hard bristles can rip the carpet fibers.)
  • Brush the whole surface of the pontoon carpet with the brush. It helps to “fluff” the carpet fibers.
  • Do another sweep with the vacuum at the end.
  • If you want to go all out and ensure that your carpet looks the best that it can, you can apply a carpet protectant/sealer to prevent stains later. Some even offer UV protection.

Remember, there are no specific guidelines to how to clean your pontoon carpet. You can clean your rug any way you want as long as it works.

Once you consider all these things, choose the cleaning option that best fits your needs.

The most important thing, though, is to take care of your marine carpet and protect your pontoon deck. After all, that is the home of the life of your party.

If you want more cleaning tips, check out How To Polish A Pontoon Boat article.

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