How To Clean a Canoe ?

Cleaning your canoe is really important because it can enhance your boat’s longevity. The salt in water can gradually corrode the body of your canoe, and if you don’t put enough time into it, you will likely face the consequences. But how should you clean your canoe to ensure its longevity?


Here are the 3 steps you should take to clean your canoe:


  1. Remove debris by scrubbing the hull with a soft brush.
  2. Wash it with a dish soap/water solution and dry it.
  3. Apply special cleaning products.


Keep reading the rest of this article to gain more information about the canoe cleaning procedure. We’ll also provide different methods for cleaning various canoe materials to help you do it correctly and without damaging your boat.

1.   Remove Debris by Scrubbing the Hull With a Soft Brush

First of all, you should get rid of debris and deposits on the canoe. During long periods of canoeing in hard water, layers of deposits will form on the canoe’s surface. These deposits consist of various materials and minerals, and not only do they look bad, they can also damage your canoe.


To do so, use a soft brush so that you don’t scratch the surface of the vehicle and try to remove any kind of deposit from your canoe. A solution of water and vinegar can help with more stubborn deposit build-ups.


Check out this YouTube video to learn more:

2.   Wash With a Dish Soap and Water Solution and Dry

Now it’s time to clean up the stains and greasy spots. Use a little dish soap and some water to make an effective solution for wiping those stains and specks of dirt off the canoe. This solution will remove most stains.


However, if your canoe has hard-set stains, you may need to use a more potent product. If this is the case, continue reading at the next step. However, don’t forget to wash off the solution with water and dry the canoe before you do so.

3.   Apply Special Cleaning Products

To clean the more stubborn stains, you should use special products called boat cleaners. They’re safe to be used for any kind of boat and on any spot – follow their instructions.


That said, keep in mind that there are dedicated products for cleaning different canoe materials, including cleaners specifically for fiberglass and aluminum.

Cleaning Different Types of Canoes

The general canoe cleaning process mentioned above applies to all kinds of canoes. However, the cleaning procedure and materials your use may vary depending on what your canoe is made of.


Let’s take a look at your cleaning options depending on what your canoe is made of.

How To Clean a Wooden or Polyethylene Canoe

The cleaning procedure for both of these materials is the same. All you need is some regular dish soap and water.


First, use a soft brush and gently rub all parts of the canoe to remove any deposit from its body.


Then make a solution with dish soap and water, and wipe the canoe with it. Rinse it well and thoroughly dry it – and that’s all you need to do!

How To Clean a Royalex Canoe

Cleaning a Royalex canoe isn’t as simple as the option mentioned above, and dish soap solution isn’t enough.


To clean your Royalex boat, first, follow steps 1 and 2 as described above.


Then, slip on some rubber or latex gloves and grab some wood alcohol or methanol for cleaning the sticky parts of your boat. You can buy wood alcohol from most paint supply stores – make sure not to use rubbing alcohol.


Saturate a soft cloth with wood alcohol and wipe the canoe’s sticky parts with long, even strokes. Then, turn over the cloth and use the other side – you should do this because alcohol evaporates quickly, and you shouldn’t wipe dry.


Then use Mean Green Cleaner (available on and clean your canoe’s hull with it. This is a multi-purpose and strong industrial cleaner that’s also safe. Once you finish cleaning, rinse the canoe well and dry.


Finally, apply 303 Marine UV Protectant as the final touch to protect your canoe from UV damage. This substance also repels dust and stains.

How To Clean an Aluminum Canoe

Aluminum can get rusty due to oxidation or become dull if you don’t clean and maintain it right.


Many people are happy with washing their aluminum canoe just with dish soap and water, followed by a thorough drying step. While doing this can clean your canoe to some extent, it’s not enough.


When cleaning an aluminum canoe, follow step 1 as always. Then, either wash with dish soap and water or use hydrochloric acid – also known as muriatic acid – to acid wash your canoe.


Hydrochloric acid is commonly used for cleaning aluminum surfaces and is completely safe for your canoe. That said, don’t forget to dilute it properly before using it and power-wash the canoe’s surface 15 minutes after you’re done at maximum. A safe option is diluting your acid solution with vinegar to make an acid solution you can use instead.

How To Clean a Fiberglass Canoe

Fiberglass canoes are delicate and light but highly durable. While cleaning fiberglass canoes isn’t tricky, it requires careful consideration.


Follow steps 1 and 2 as described above. For fiberglass canoes, avoid using strong detergents containing bleach.


Once you’re done with the second step, degrease the canoe’s gelcoat using a degreaser designed for fiberglass and a microfiber cloth.


You can also use acetone or paint thinner for wiping off the oil stains – however, you should always wear gloves and a mask while using these chemicals.


The next step is to use a rust remover to clean out the hard water stains. Don’t forget to dilute it before applying, and don’t let it sit for a long time. Then wash it thoroughly.


You can first polish your canoe and then wax it to give it a protective coating and a shiny look as the final touches.

How To Clean a Kevlar Composites Canoe

Despite being lightweight, Kevlar is probably the strongest material for flatwater canoes. To clean a Kevlar canoe, you’ll first need to complete the first two steps described above.


After you’ve thoroughly dried the canoe, apply a fiberglass stain remover gel to wipe out stubborn stains. Wash it off in about 15 minutes, and you’re done – you’re free to enjoy your newly clean canoe!

Final Thoughts

Canoes come in different materials, and each requires a specific cleaning method. If you’re not careful, you may ruin its look and even damage the boat. So, make sure you know what your canoe is made of and be careful about the products you use.

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