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The key to preserving boat seats is regular cleaning and regular use of a vinyl protectant specifically for marine vinyl. That means at least wiping them down with fresh water after every use, and frequent soap-and-water washes about once a week, followed by use of a protectant. To avoid stains, anytime something gets spilled on the seats, wipe it off immediately. And of course, dry off damp seats after every ride. Finally, use only dedicated marine mold-and-mildew and vinyl cleaners and treatments, not household products, to clean boat seats. Below you'll find a comprehensive list of Do's and Don'ts when caring for your seats. Following these guidelines will help keep your seats in good shape for decades of use.  

Seat Cleaning: DO's 

  • DO keep some type of mild cleaner on board at all times to quickly wipe off food and drink spills, as well as dirt, sweat, and chemicals like sunscreen and bug spray. Alcohol wipes can come in handy for on-the-spot treatment of small, staining spills, but they should be wiped with water and protectant should be applied to those spots at the end of your day on the water.

  • DO wipe the seats down in a circular motion with fresh water and a soft cloth after every ride.

  • DO use mild dish soap, fresh water and a cloth (or a very soft brush) to wash and wipe boat seats weekly.

  • DO use a quality cleaner such as Spray Nine or 303 Multi-Surface Cleaner and apply it with a clean cloth about once a month.

  • DO rinse the seats off with fresh water after washing them with soap or cleanser to get rid of excess soap, then use a clean cloth to dry them. Always follow this type of cleaning with a marine vinyl protectant.

  • DO use a quality mold and mildew cleaner to treat existing fungus and prevent future growth. 3M and 303 both make a good product specifically for mold and mildew. Make sure whatever you use is  specially formulated for marine use, not household use, and that it’s safe for vinyl. Apply a protectant such as 303 Aerospace Vinyl Protectant afterwards.

  • DO store your boat in a well-ventilated area after you’ve properly cleaned and dried your boat’s seats.

  • DO cover your boat seats (once dry) with either seat covers or a full boat cover when your boat is not being used, to protect them from the elements including sunlight, which can fade and crack seats.

 Seat Cleaning: DON'TS

  • DON’T skip wiping the seats after every ride. At least give them a quick once-over before you leave.

  • DON’T let the seats air dry after cleaning them. Wipe them completely dry to prevent moisture buildup.

  • DON’T use harsh cleaners that contain ammonia or bleach to treat mold and mildew. While these chemicals can kill mold, they can also badly damage the upholstery.

  • DON'T use any abrasive like magic erasers or hard bristle brushes on your vinyl.  You will permanently damage the top layer of your vinyl, no matter how gentle you think you are being.

  • DON’T expect an easy solution for set-in mildew stains. Preventing mold and mildew requires regular cleaning, so if the fungus has deeply penetrated your boat seat cushions, a mold-and-mildew cleaner may not be enough to salvage the cushions, and you may need to replace them.

  • DON’T cover wet boat seats, as this will promote mold and mildew growth. Dry the seats completely and use breathable, vented covers.

  • DON’T leave anything laying on the seats when you're cleaning up for the day like damp towels, wet life vests and residual messes from the day. Clean up all you can see like food and drink stains and then wipe seats down for things you might not see, like sunscreen, sweat and bug spray. 

  • DON’T use a power washer on boat seats, as it could rip the upholstery.

  • DON’T use degreasers, as they  wipe away protective layers of the vinyl coating. 

  • DON’T use gasoline to clean boat seats. This should be obvious, but it’s flammable and dangerous - and terrible for the vinyl.

  • DON’T use household cleaners which aren’t formulated for use on marine vinyl, or bleach.

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