I’ve had my Colorado inflatable pontoon now for a couple of years and am by nature a little bit lazy. I just bring it home after day out and tend to neglect washing it. What that means is I have a trickier cleaning job to do when I finally get around to giving it a scrub down.
In the first 12 months I used plenty of different methods and products, including the well-known warm water with soap way. Warm water and soap only tends to go so far, especially if like me you’re not cleaning down your inflatable after each trip out.
Handy Hint: At the very least, you should be cleaning your inflatable boat before you store it away for the winter. Here’s my guide to storing inflatable pontoon boats.
Best Inflatable Boat Cleaner Review
The best product I have found by far is called Star Brite. It’s a 2 in 1 inflatable boat cleaner and protectant which means I don’t have to buy separate 303. You can read the Star Brite Amazon reviews to see how well it rates.
Using it is simple, and lower down this page you can read up on how to clean an inflatable boat using Star Brite.
Yes, and I have excellent and consistent results with it.
It takes off all the grime, streaks, stains, salt deposits, mildew, bird mess and scuffs that get onto my inflatable pontoon in just normal week to week usage and fishing trips.
As an inflatable boat cleaner, it’s the best one I have used. The fact that it works as a protectant too just makes it even more of a no-brainer purchase.
Inflatable Boat Cleaners & Protectants
Will they damage your inflatable?
It all depends on what type of inflatable boat cleaner and protectant you use and how careful you are in applying it. The old adage of “less is more” is applicable with most cleaners and protectants on the market.
Star Brite is specifically formulated for use on fiberglass, rubber, plastics, PVC, nylon, Hypalon, and other types of fabrics that are found on inflatable boats plus ribs, personal fishing pontoons, kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards. It’s been well-tested and is well-regarded in the marine industry for not being too abrasive that it damages boats, but still strong enough so that it works.
The Star Brite product is a 2 in 1 cleaner, which also includes protectant. That means you don’t have to buy a separate 303 protectant to cover your boat with after cleaning.
How to Clean an Inflatable Boat
Before you do anything, put a pair of disposable gloves on. Star Brite is a very light cleaner and protectant, but I like to be as safe as I can be when working with chemicals.
#1: Prepare Your Boat
To prepare your inflatable boat for cleaning, take the cords out plus keeps any batons away from the boat. In fact, remove anything from the inside, including any frames. Completely taking out any attachable component or accessories will make it a lot easier to clean.
As well as the Star Brite inflatable boat cleaner, and I also have an additional spray bottle that just contains water.
I will use the second bottle of water spray to help thin the inflatable boat cleaner and protectant out, and it also spreads it out along the PVC or nylon surfaces a lot better.
#2: Work on One Section at a Time
To get started, I choose just one section that I will be working on and wet it with my water spray first. Once the water is on there, I lightly pump a few sprays out from the Star Brite bottle.
The reason I work on just one section at a time, is that the cleaner will evaporate, so I don’t want to have to spray more. You will use less cleaner and protectant this way, and will start to see results quicker when compared to the dirty parts of your boat.
#3: Use a Rag of Cloth to Work Over Each Section
Once sprayed on to one of the sections, I use a rag or cloth to clean, rubbing and smoothing the Star Brite over the section as I go.
I have 5 clothes, as if your inflatable boat is very dirty, the rag is just going to get dirty itself and end up spreading that dirt around, rather than taking it clean off. I can swap out and replace my rags for a new clean one once they get dirty.
Working on a section at a time, I will then flip the boat over to do the bottom half.
#4: Removing Real Stubborn Marks
But what about real stubborn stains, streaks, marks, and mildew?
Whilst Star Brite should take everything off your boat, and leave it looking shiny and new, you might have a stain on there that is proving really hard to get off, no matter how much you work on it.
The only product that I have found that will work is a toluol or xylol solvent, which you should be able to pick up at your local hardware store or on Amazon (click here for prices).
But be very careful if you do decide to use toluol as is can be very aggressive on fabric and materials, so use it really sparingly. Just dap a little onto the corner or your cloth and work it into the stain in circular motions.
#5: Wash the Boat Down with Clean Water
Once you have cleaned the boat using your inflatable boat cleaner, hose it down to get rid of any of the product that could still remain in hard to reach parts of the boat such as creases, folds, and seams.
Now the next step typically would be to use a 303 cleaner to protect the boat against UV damage and degradation. But Star Brite is a 2 in 1 product, which is why I recommend it over other inflatable boat cleaners and protectants.
You only need to use a 303 protectant is you haven’t used the Star Brite cleaning spray.
Don’t just take my word for it. Read online reviews of Star Brite, and decide for yourself. I love it though, and wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.