Pontoon carpet cleaning is not fun, but it is a necessary thing to do. It is especially important to clean your carpet is you are winterizing pontoon boat.
Here is why.
Your pontoon’s deck is the heart of your on-the-water fun. And what you usually find on top of the deck is the pontoon carpet. As such, you want to keep your pontoon carpet looking amazing and brand new.
Of course, you do! Otherwise, you probably would not be here.
If you have carpet on your pontoon’s deck, 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, for it is much better to face the reality that has frustrated many a pontoon captain before, and plan accordingly, then it is to pretend it is no threat.
Keeping your pontoon 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, and it will become so routine you will not even hesitate to do it when you have it down.
And you certainly will not have to resort to replacing that carpeting with vinyl, if that’s what you’re thinking.
In this carpet cleaning guide, you will find that keeping your pontoon boat carpeting clean is much easier than you thought.
- 1 Why It’s Important To Keep Your Pontoon Carpet Clean
- 2 Things That Can Ruin Your Pontoon Carpet
- 3 What Is Your Pontoon Carpet Made Of?
- 4 What is The Best Way to Clean Pontoon Carpet?
- 4.1 Prepping: How To Remove Debris From Your Pontoon Carpet
- 4.2 Removing Pontoon Carpet Stains
- 4.3 Deep Cleaning Your Pontoon Boat Carpet
- 4.4 Hand Scrubbing
- 4.5 Commercial/rented Carpet Cleaner Or Steamer
- 4.6 Power Wash Pontoon Carpet With Pressure Washer
- 4.7 Commercial Carpet Cleaning Service
- 4.8 Car Or Boat Wash
- 4.9 Drying And Final Touches
Why It’s Important To Keep Your Pontoon Carpet Clean
Look, we all know what a carpet is. However, in case you have forgotten why exactly it such a valuable item for you to have, let us quickly refresh by going over its chief benefits:
- 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 carpet were not enough, let us now turn to the cons so we know what exactly we are dealing with.
- There are even more reasons to keep your carpet in tip-top shape:
- The cost. You already paid once for it. Why pay (potentially) even more to replace it?
- Provides protection for your deck. Much like the carpet, the deck is even more expensive to replace.
- It adds value to your boat. Keep this in mind should you ever choose to sell and/or upgrade.
Things That Can Ruin Your Pontoon Carpet
Being stuck in rush hour traffic is nothing compared to the amount of traffic your carpet sees.
Whether it is human feet or pet feet (wet, dry, dirty or apparently 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 carpet if you are not careful. Not only can soil and stains make it look less quality, they can even harbor bacteria and mold sure to only exacerbate the mess, eat away at it and make its way into the deck once it is done.
Surely there must be an unwritten rule out there somewhere that specifies that, as a pontoon sailor and captain, the very least you can do is not lure your onboard guests into space where they will certainly grow ill.
But wait… you thought that was it? We have not even considered Mother Nature!
Your pontoon carpet is consistently exposed to rain and sun on a regular basis. If you do not store it properly in the winter, snow and ice will cause just as many problems. And I do not mean trivial problems like a slightly frozen floor; I mean full-on, cringe-worthy problems like the extended effects of mold, mildew, moss, and fading.
The takeaway? 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 rancid, nasty old carpet?
What all of this means for you, though, is that carpet cleaning should be done regularly and done right. Nevertheless, since not all that many people are as enthusiastic about cleaning the carpet as they are staining it, let us truly make this process as simple and straightforward as possible.
What Is Your Pontoon Carpet Made Of?
First things first, before cleaning with anything at all—including water—it would be an advisable idea for you to check your carpet material, assess and see what exactly you are working with.
What kind of material was used?
Then, there is a myriad of many other considerations, chief among them being: does your carpet have marine-grade backing? How about long-term UV protection? Mold/mildew sealer?
If it does, in fact, 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 and 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 we mentioned above.
Avoid Manufacturer Issues: Check Your Owner’s Manual
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 important 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.
Your owner’s manual can either be your BFF—that is what is designed for, really—or make for one easily-avoidable mistake. If you cannot find it, or if you have any additional questions, do not hesitate. Contact the manufacturer. The answers are important in that they may change your mind altogether about what sorts of cleaners are most suitable for your boat carpet.
How Is Your Pontoon Carpet Attached To The Boat Deck?
Here is another tidbit that should be covered in your owner’s manual. In one word: Glue. In most cases, your pontoon carpet will be glued to your deck.
This is what you need to ask yourself while going through this process:
- Is your pontoon carpet glue water-resistant?
- Should avoid certain cleaners and ingredients?
- Can certain ingredients or cleaners void your warranty?
- How often is carpet cleaning recommended?
Once again, check with your owner’s manual, and, when in doubt, call and ask. You want to be sure about these things.
What is The Best Way to Clean Pontoon Carpet?
Prepping: How To Remove Debris From Your Pontoon 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—even if your guests are a relatively clean and orderly bunch.
Do this first: Pick up and remove all the trash. You know, like all empty cans, half-empty water bottles, cigarette butts (yeah, you might want some gloves for this part) and any other obvious 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 pontoon carpet you can work with at a time.
Good job. Now you can start the debris removal.
You have several options for this bit. Let us run through them now.
Broom And Dustpan
Yes, exactly 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.
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. Tip: Be sure to fully charge it before using. You may not have access to an electrical socket when you need it—not to mention, charging can take up to hours at a time. Try to prepare yourself so that you can finish all of your cleaning in one session.
Another tip: Set some time aside for the carpet to dry. It may not work as well if your boat rug is wet; plus, this might be the extra time you needed to your vacuum reach full-charge. I would recommend that you buy Dyson Cordless Vacuum from Amazon. It’s a little pricey but it is worth every penny.
A cordless blower is powerful enough to remove debris quickly and without a cord. There is another awesome benefit to the cordless blower. If you have younger kids they will love it. Nothing will make them feel more powerful than being able to blow away everything in sight! (Once again, remember to fully charge it.)
Yup… 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.
Good news, though, is that there is a massive selection online to peruse through tons of different models, all 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. Be forewarned and be forearmed. Be sure to pay extra attention when you see someone having too much fun with a cringe-worthy liquid in their hand.
Here are some common ones to look out for:
- Food stains and beverage spills
- Blood (fishing)
Now, even though they are more like unwelcome guests living in your carpet, I am counting moss, mildew, and algae as stains here. See for yourself… Left to grow enough, they will leave all sorts of hideous stains behind; so, 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.
Moving along on to the rest of your stains, you have two main stain-removing options;
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 from Amazon is an especially powerful and popular choice.
Just be sure to read all directions, ingredients and any warnings—and, please, do not forget to check that boat’s owner’s manual before applying it. It may even be a wise idea to ring up the manufacturer and ask what specific cleaning materials and stain removers they recommend.
A lot of times you can’t get rid of the Moss, mildew, and algae the first time you try. If that happens try to seal your pontoon carpet with an anti-mildew and anti-moss treatment. I prefer to use Wet & Forget products after cleaning.
Sometimes, a lot of carpet cleaning success lies in the prevention stage. It is very easy to clean pontoon boat carpet if you have the right things set in place.
If you don’t like chemicals and like to keep things natural you can use white vinegar. Every person who has been around for a longer period of time will swear on white vinegar. I know my mom and grandma do. They are big proponents of 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.
Do keep in mind though that this is just my own favorite DIY stain cleaner. You should explore more homemade stain removers and carpet cleaners, know full well the one that is best-suited for your own pontoon carpet.
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. All this will be sure to keep your carpet from sustaining any serious damage or staining.
Furthermore, approximately every month or so, you will need to do a deep clean after following all the above steps.
Once you have removed the stains get ready to do some deep cleaning. You have just as many options to work with on this one.
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.
Cons: Time consuming, can strain your back, can rub your knees raw (unless you break out the knee pads or kneel on a towel).
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. You will find this will save you far more in the long-run.
Pros: Quick, efficient, serious deep cleans
Cons: Cost. It requires special detergent that can damage your pontoon carpet. It’s heavy equipment and needs access to electricity.
I personally have Bissell 86T3/86T3Q and I’m very happy with it. Give it a shot or go with something that you think is right for you.
You can find Bissell 86T3/86T3Q on Amazon.
Power Wash Pontoon Carpet With Pressure Washer
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 and can be expensive if hired.
Commercial Carpet Cleaning Service
Of course, if you have a nice boat, and do not trust yourself with the task at hand (been there, believe me), you can always just turn to that local cleaning company to send an employee over with their best equipment to do the hard work for you.
Pros: They mostly do a great job and you don’t have to do it yourself.
Cons: Can be costly, use unknown detergents (unless you ask), and the cleaners could harm your pontoon carpet.
Car Or Boat Wash
What if you live in an area where boating is popular? In that case, there is a very good 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 (make sure you won’t get stuck).
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. Drying thoroughly 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 carpet that will achieve a look that looks almost as good as new. To pull off this awesome effect, do the following:
Use a medium bristle brush. (Soft bristles are not effective. On the other hand hard bristles can rip the carpet fibers.)
Brush the whole surface of the pontoon carpet with the brush. This helps to “fluff” the carpet fibers.
Do another sweep with the vacuum at the end.
Optional: If you really 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.
I might sound like a broken record, but once again, check your owner’s manual before applying anything.
Remember, there are no specific guidelines 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 pontoon carpet and protect your pontoon deck; because, after all, that is the home of the life of your party.
Below is a short video for you if you are a visual person.