Nothing can be as irritating as journeying in a mold-infested boat. Molds grow and spread in any area where there is water including in boats. If you have an inflatable boat that you use sparingly, it is normal for molds to appear. While you can not completely prevent this from happening, you can do a lot to check the spread. So how to clean mold off an inflatable boat should be one of the things you should learn, as the skull will come in handy in the future.
Most people think that cleaning their inflatable boat once in a while is okay, but they are wrong. Boats should be cleaned after every use to prevent germ infestations and protects the build material from decomposing. So prevention should be your watchword as far as boat maintenance is concerned. If you clean it regularly, dirt and mod will not build up. Here are the two things you need to do to keep your inflatable boat in shape.
Rinse with freshwater
After every use, make sure you rinse the boat with freshwater while it is still inflated to wash off the saltwater, debris, and stains. If you have a hose and spray on board, that is even better. If you make this a normal practice, the material will not lose color or develop permanent stains and markings. Avoid rinsing yours with saltwater but only freshwater.
Dry with a cloth
The next step is to dry the boat with a cloth. Drying is important because germs and molds grow and spread in wet areas. If you rinse it under the sun, don’t leave it to natural elements for it to dry because the UV rays from the sun damage the fabric. Although you can leave it under the sun for a short while, still use the dry cloth to wipe the boat, including areas that sun rays cannot reach.
Once you are done, do not leave it under the sun but deflate it and return it to your store or move the boat under a shade if you have one.
The short steps we highlighted above are for daily cleaning after use, but what if the boat is already infested by mold? What do you do? Just follow the steps below.
How to remove mold from your inflatable boat
If you notice that mold has taken over your boat, you need to act fast; otherwise, the infestation will spread to other parts, and the damage will become permanent. Molds, by their nature, are very hard to remove and require a lot of patience and effort to eliminate. So if left unchecked, it becomes incredibly difficult to remove them permanently.
The good news is that it can be done with proper practice and application. What you will need is a very good mold removal solution or product. You can purchase a mild remover online or from a hardware store, or online. Or better still, you can use a DIY solution that will work as well as a branded product.
If you use the right cleaner, the chemical will break down the mold, thereby making it very easy for you to clean. Here are some good cleaning options for your inflatable boat.
Use a mold cleaner
You can use a mold cleaner like we pointed out before. Mild cleaners are not the same as conventional cleaners for removing stains. Mild cleaners are special solutions meant for eliminating molds from surfaces. How you use it will depend on the manufacturer’s direction. Do not overuse it, but according to specifications.
Vinegar has long been a popular solution for making DIY cleaners, and they are effective against odors and stains. You can dilute the vinegar with water. For better results, mix with water and pour into a spray bottle. Spray the affected part and leave for a few minutes for the solution to break down the mold. If it affects a large area, spray every part and ensure that no part is left untouched. After a while, wash your boat with soap and warm water, then dry with a towel.
Another very good mold eliminator is hydrogen peroxide. This chemical is a potent anti-fungal and anti-bacterial solution. If you are using it, you are not only cleaning your boat but also preventing germ buildup. Just mid peroxide with water in a spray bottle and apply it on the boat. Cover every area and leave like a while. Then wash with water and soap. Use a brush if necessary to remove residue, then dry afterward.
Baking soda is a mold killer, and we recommend it because it will not damage your boat or pose any risk to your health. If you mix ¼ tablespoon of baking soda with water in a spray bottle and apply it on your boat, it will remove the mold. The good thing about baking soda is its long-term effect. It serves as a protection against mold, so we recommend you use it regularly
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil with powerful antifungal properties. This oil not only eliminates molds but mildew and stubborn stains. Due to its costly price, we recommend that you only use a few drops. To prepare a solution with this oil, you will need a glass bottle or container, not plastic. Apply ten drops into water and shake vigorously. Apply to the affected spots and leave for a few minutes. The oil will get to work and break down the mold. You can then wash and dry it.
Just like tea tree oil, grapefruit oil is another essential oil that works well too. The application process is the same as tea tree oil. Grapefruit has a lovely aroma, and not only will it remove the mold, but it will also give your boat a pleasant, distinct fragrance that will calm your mood.
If you want to go the old school way, a good bleach is all you need. Just spray your boat with bleach and water mixture, then wash off.
Borax is another very effective solution. All you need is a gallon of water and a half cup of borax mixed together and sprayed on the boat.
Note: When cleaning your boat to remove mold, it is important to clean the entire boat instead of focusing on only the affected parts. Molds may infect a place and not become visible until after a while. So cleaning the entire interior and exterior of the boat is an effective preventive measure to stop new breakouts.
Inflatable boat cleaners to avoid
Not all cleaning solutions are good for removing mold from inflatable boats. For starters, cleaners are bad for inflatables because they contain chemicals that hasten the degradation of fabric. Most modern inflatable boats are made with Hypalon and PVC that react negatively to general cleaners.
These chemicals will either destroy or ruin your boat’s color if you use them. Limit the use of cleaners to hard surfaces, not fabrics.
Should you clean a new inflatable boat?
If you recently acquired an inflatable boat, you may be wondering whether it makes sense to clean before use. The short answer to this question is an emphatic yes. New boats are not cleaned before they leave the factory, and some of them are smeared with chemicals and lubricants that may cause allergies.
If you have sensitive skin or suffer allergies, it is imperative that you clean it before use. Washing with s soft soapy sponge and rinsing with water afterward is all you need.
In the case of a stained boat, you will need more than washing and rinsing to remove the stains. Here are the steps to clean a stained boat.
1st step – Remove items
If it is still inflated, remove all items from the boat before you start the process.
2nd step – Prepare your items
You will need to prepare all the cleaning items you will need. Items may include but are not limited to
- Latex gloves
- Boat cleaner (inflatable)
- Soft brushes or sponge
The cleaner you choose should be the type meant for inflatable boats, not general cleaners.
3rd step – Wash the boat
With all your items arranged, apply the boat cleaner to your boat and wash with your brush or sponge. Do this diligently and make sure every part is covered. As you do so, please do not allow your skin to come in contact with the chemical; otherwise, your skin may react to it.
4th step – Spray the cleaner
If the mode requires that you wash with the cleaner, then do so. Afterward, you can spray some more on the boat and leave for some time for the chemical to work some more. Make sure every part is covered, then wash off with freshwater, not saltwater.
5th Step – Dry with a towel
After rinsing the boat, dry with a towel to remove every single speck of water. Failure to dry it completely may attract molds later on.
How to Prevent Mold Buildup
Prevention is always better than cure, so if you are able to prevent mold buildup in the first place, you will not have to expend so much effort cleaning your boat at all. Certain conditions stimulate the growth of mold; eliminate those factors, and your boat will be mold-free. Here are some steps to prevent mold from invading your boat.
Fix leaks immediately
Mold is bound to grow in damp areas. If you notice leaks in any part of your boat, do well to fix it immediately before the leak worsens. Leaks do not become obvious until they get worse; that is why it is important to train your eyes to check for leaks as often as possible. Always do a quick check on your boat every time, and if you spot any leaks, cover the affected part using proper materials.
Dehumidify the boat to eliminate moisture
Sometimes, it is very difficult to completely dry the boat after washing. Even if you use several fry towels, some parts may still remain moist, and these parts may attract mold buildup. With the hull and air undergoing different levels of temperature, this may cause mold to build up. So what can you do to ensure that the boat is completely dry?
You can use a dehumidifier or expose it to sufficient ventilation. After cleaning it, don’t be in a hurry to deflate it or move it into your storage. Rather wait for some time for the air to complete the drying process. Also, check every single part carefully to be sure there are no wet spots before packing it up.
You can also use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity. This works best if the craft is sealed up. In such a state, the device will absorb leftover moisture and reduce dampness. But experts argue that dehumidifiers are not very effective under evolving weather conditions, so keeping it in a ventilated space may be your best bet. Just make sure there is a sufficient flow of air.
Clean droppings immediately
Another factor that causes mold is food and beverage droppings. If you bring food and drink items aboard, be extra careful that they do not spill over, and if they do, clean the affected spot immediately. The same thing should be done if saltwater from the seas spills into the boat. Saltwater does not dry on time, and if it does, it leaves behind marks that may turn into ugly stains.
If you notice saltwater on your boat, you may not be able to clean it effectively while you are at sea, but the moment you return to shore, make sure you do. This is why it is important to rinse it with freshwater after your voyage.
Check vulnerable spots
There are vulnerable spots you should regularly check after your boating activity. They are
- Deck chainplates
- Deck masts
- Cockpit scuppers
If the boat has closets or loose stanchions, you should check those areas too. Any area that may gather moisture should be given priority during cleaning. If you clean your boat regularly using freshwater and proper cleaning solutions, it will remain mold-free and in good shape for years to come
How to clean mold off inflatable boat FAQ
Can I use a normal cleanser to clean my inflatable boat?
No, using a normal cleanser is an ill-advised move. Normal cleansers damage PVC and Hypalon fabrics. If you must use a cleaner, use a special mold cleaner.
Should I use freshwater or saltwater to rinse my inflatable boat after washing it?
You should use freshwater to rinse off saltwater deposits.
You should wash your inflatable boat after every use. This standard cleaning practice will prevent stains and mold buildup.
Last updated: 6/04/2022