How To Pressure Clean a Boat

How To Pressure Clean a Boat?

Boats are meant to go into the water, which means they get washed every time you take ‘em out for a spin, right? WRONG!

Boats need to be washed regularly. We’d say boats need even more frequent pressure washing as compared to cars, but typically boats aren’t used as often as cars, so they might not get as dirty.

Why do boats need frequent pressure washing?

Cars should be washed every two weeks or once a month, however, boats need a wash at least once a month. Again, this is considering that you are more likely to go on boat trips on weekends, as compared to cars – which we typically drive almost every day.

Why do boats need frequent pressure washing

The reason why boats need such frequent washing is that they get exposed to harsher environments. Salty water and rust are the enemies of any structure. And the damp climate is home to mold algae, etc.

And don’t forget that nobody wants their boats to smell like fish (you’re going to take your boat out, so might as well catch a fish or two).

What to consider before pressure washing your boat?

Before we get into how to pressure wash a boat, you need to make sure that you as well as your boat are ready for it. Here’s how you can do that:

a)Remove any loose equipment

We tend to leave a lot of stuff lying around in our boats such as walkie-talkies, buckets, and cushions and canopies.

Make sure they are properly put away, so they don’t get damaged or be pushed around by high-pressure water.

b)Close the doors and all the entryways

The last thing we want is for the boat’s interior to get wet, it can be a nightmare to dry off indoor furniture.

So, make sure to close sliding doors, windows, hatches, etc.

What will you need to pressure wash your boat?

Apart from the pressure washer (and appropriate shoes, clothing, safety gear, etc.), you will need the following equipment to pressure wash your boat.

What to consider before pressure washing your boat
  1. Cleaning Solution – very important to clean all kinds of stains.
  2. A Telescoping Wand – preferred (not necessary) for hard-to-reach places.
  3. Rotating Scrub – preferred, otherwise stuck-on algae would be hard to deal with.
  4. Spray Nozzles – important if your pressure washer doesn’t have variable spray functionality.

The 3 Major Phases Of Pressure Washing A Boat

Pressure washing a boat is reasonably simple, and anyone can do it themselves. Here are the 3 major phases of how to pressure clean a boat.


Pre-rinse a boat before applying any soaping solution is always a good idea. Use pressured water to make sure loose dirt, bird poop, and caked-on mud get washed away.

ii.Apply Soap From the Bottom Up

The next step is applying soap with a bottom-up as it prevents streaking. Many pressure washers have attachments such as a soap dispenser, or foam cannon, or you can even use a detergent bottle that attaches to the wand of your pressure washer.

Allow the soap suds a dwell time of around 5-10 minutes – this gives them plenty of time to react to the dirt and loosen them up for rinsing. Reapply the soap if it’s a sunny day and if the soap dries off quickly.

However, in boat washing, simply allowing for dwell time is not enough to eliminate stubborn mold and algae, which is where a rotating scrub brush comes in. Otherwise, you’d need to get down on your knees and start applying some elbow grease.

iii. Rinse The Soap Off

Now, it is time to rinse the soap off, this time, with a top-down approach. This makes sure all the grime washes down and off your boat.

How Much PSI to Pressure Wash A Boat?

You’d need 1000 PSI – 2,000 PSI for washing your boat, but if you have one of those portable or economic pressure washers, all hope’s not lost. It will take a little longer to clean and perhaps a bit more scrubbing.  

Here are some tips for selecting the appropriate PSI for cleaning your boat.

  • Avoid using 0° (red) and even 15° (yellow) nozzle tips, as they can damage your boat.
  • 25° (green) nozzle tip is recommended for pre-rinsing and washing off soap.
  • 40° (white) nozzle tip works best for delicate surfaces and for applying soap.
  • 60° (black) nozzle tip works even better for soap application.
  • Use around 2,000 PSI – 2,500 PSI for pressure washing your boat.
  • Use lower PSI – around 1,000 to 1,500 PSI for delicate surfaces, such as wood.

It’s always recommended to start with a lower PSI and work your way up depending on the condition of the surface.

Cleaning Solutions & Detergent

For any type of pressure washing, it is always a good idea to use an environmentally-friendly cleaner. As most pressure washing is done outside or near a water body (in the case of boats), you need a gentle soap that won’t harm the surrounding land, grass, and marine life.

  • Use an ammonia-free detergent that is also biodegradable. Ammonia-based detergents are also damaging to the fiberglass of the boat exteriors.
  • Refer to the pressure washer manual to learn about safe detergents for your machine.
  • You can cook up your own homemade detergent with the following ingredients:
    • 2.7 ounces of trisodium phosphate (TSP)
    • 2.7 ounces powdered laundry detergent
    • 1-gallon hot water

How To Clean Boat Propeller?

You will need to wash the boat propeller by hand and not with a pressure washer. This is because high-pressure water can damage the propeller blades and erode away the leading edges of the blades.

Here’s how to clean the boat propeller:

  1. Make sure the engine’s turned off and the boat is in neutral.
  2. To prevent the propeller shaft from turning while you clean it use a protective cover to secure it.
  3. Use a brush to scrub the propeller.
  4. A scraper will help you deal with marine growth.
  5. Rinse the propeller thoroughly with clean water.
  6. Dry the propeller with a towel and give it plenty of time to air dry before starting.

Don’t Forget To Clean The Boat Dock

Because of its proximity to water, the boat docks can get dirty and slippery, no thanks to the growth of mold, mildew, and algae. So, to prevent any accidents and eyesores, here’s how to clean a boat dock:

Conduct a Pre-inspection

A pre-inspection before washing the boat dock is necessary as it will help you to:

  1. Discover any loose or splintered boards, as they must be addressed before pressure washing.
  2. Figure out what technique will be appropriate. A wooden dock would require gentler washing as compared to concrete docks.

After you have conducted your inspection, here’s how you can clean the boat dock:

  1. Use an eco-friendly cleaning solution.
  2. Use a scrub attachment such as a rotating brush for effortless cleaning.
  3. For delicate surfaces, a pressure setting of 1,000 to 1,500 PSI is recommended.
  4. For hard surfaces, you can use up to 2,000 to 3,000 PSI.
  5. Apply a waterproofing sealant or a wood stain to protect your boat dock against water and weather.


Is it OK to pressure wash a boat?

Yes, it is not only OK to pressure wash a boat but highly recommended. This is because it gets exposed to more harmful environments such as salty water, moisture, mold, algae, etc. You should pressure wash it at least once a month, considering you take it out on weekends only.

Can you pressure wash the bottom of a boat?

Yes, you can pressure wash the bottom of the boat but it is better to do it at a low-pressure setting – around 1,000 to 1,500 PSI. This pressure setting will help you be extra careful so as to not damage any of the running gear or through-hull fittings at the bottom of the boat.

Can you use a pressure washer on a fiberglass boat?

Yes, fiberglass is quite durable and can withstand pressured water cleaning at medium settings – i.e., 1,000 PSI to 2,000 PSI. Fiberglass is a composite material with a high strength-to-weight ratio, which makes it popular for many marine applications. Make sure not to use too high pressure (2,000+ PSI) as it can cause damage to the gel coat and underlying layers of the fiberglass, which will lead to cracking or chipping of the surface.

How much does it cost to pressure wash a boat?

Pressure washing a boat can cost anywhere from $50­ to $500. That is, too, without considering the costs of extra labor to wash away stubborn mold and algae. However, you can pressure wash your boat at a very cheap cost yourself, especially when considering that most economic pressure washers can cost as low as $150.


Pressure washing boats is one of the crucial tasks of owning a boat, and there’s no way around it. And no, the boat doesn’t get washed inevitably when you take it out on the water.

You still have to wash off the salty water and inhibit the growth of any harmful marine growth on it.

The good news is that with a pressure washer, washing your boat is quick, simple, and effortless. To learn more about how you can choose the best pressure washer for your every day as well as unique tasks.

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