After taking my brother’s speed boat out for a spin on the water last weekend, I spent some time teasing him about how dirty his vinyl seats had become.

I promised him that I would come up with a solution for a homemade vinyl cleaner for his boat seats that would get rid of the stains and dirt, with minimum spend.

Best homemade vinyl cleaner for boat seats

As part of the process, I did a lot of research and testing to come up with the best homemade vinyl cleaner for boat seats. You can read my comprehensive guide below on how to create your own and get similar results.

We tested a few different suggestions I found online, quickly dismissing those that could cause damage to the vinyl, or homemade solutions that simply don’t come up to scratch. 

Before I do that though, I want to show you a really cheap solution that works amazingly well as you can see from the photo below.

cleaning the boat with the spray

CLR mold and mildew remover can get very quick results as you can see.

To get results like you see above, I recommend these cheap products:

You can read the full guide on how to clean the vinyl by clicking here.

If you don’t want to spend a few dollars on those cleaning products and would rather a homemade solution, then read on!

And the homemade winners were…

  • White Vinegar
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Club soda

Some of the best materials for a homemade vinyl boat seat cleaning session are white vinegar, liquid dish soap, warm water, and club soda.

All of the items listed above have great cleaning properties that are also safe for sensitive surfaces such as an expensive boat seat.

There is no particular order or mixture that you will need to use to clean your boat seats. These materials can essentially be mixed and matched until you find something that works for you.

If you have white vinyl boat seats, a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water should do the trick while trying to restore the color and shine.

Alternatively, you can never go wrong with some warm, soapy water on any kind of surface that needs dirt and stains to be broken down gently.

Club soda will work with any of these mixtures, or by itself, especially when treating spot stains.

In case you are looking to treat a particular spot on your vinyl boat seats instead of cleaning and maintaining the entire thing, you can read on to the next section for some ideas on homemade spot cleaning solutions and ideas.

Spot cleaning for vinyl boat seats

Aside from the process that goes into clearing your boat’s vinyl seats of any dirt or debris, there will be some instances where you need to target a spot stain on the surface.

In the case that something spills onto a certain area of the cushioning, you can use the materials in the list below to get them out quickly and easily.

Materials for spot cleaning

  • Cleaning Magic Eraser pads
  • Baking soda

Along with the materials that were listed in the above section for a homemade cleaning solution, you can use a cleaning eraser pad to get rid of spot stains or scuffs on a light-colored vinyl seat.

Alternatively, you can apply a baking soda and water solution to the area and allow it to sit for some time before cleaning it off. The solution should be a 50/50 mixture of powder and water to make a paste-like substance.

Which materials and solutions to avoid

In this section, I will go over some of the materials that you should avoid when formulating your own vinyl boat seat cleaner at home.

Take a look at the list below to find an outline of these substances, or keep reading for a more detailed description of why they shouldn’t be used.

  • Strong or harsh chemicals
  • Bleach
  • Alcohol

First of all, you will want to stay away from any strong or harsh chemicals that could erode or further stain the vinyl on your seats. These types of materials can wear down the outside of the seats if you use them frequently for this purpose, so you should absolutely stay away from anything like this in your homemade solution.

One of the biggest no-no’s when it comes to cleaning a vinyl boat seat is bleach. Regardless of the strength or dilution of the bleach you are using, you could really do a lot of damage to your seats when you apply it directly. So, it is best to leave the bleach at home for your laundry and bathroom.

It will destroy the thread in your seats, and I explain this in more detail with these reasons not to use bleach.

Alcohol is another material that you want to avoid while cleaning vinyl boat seats. Just like bleach, this type of substance can wear down the materials and cause the appearance to look even worse than it was when you started cleaning after a significant amount of use.

As you can see, there are plenty of easy and cheap homemade solutions for cleaning any type of vinyl boat seat.

Whether you have bright white cushions that are prone to stains or you would just like to maintain the quality of your vehicle, one of the mixtures that were mentioned in this article will certainly help you out.

How to create a homemade vinyl cleaner for your boat seats

When it comes to creating your own homemade vinyl cleaner for boat seats, there are a few different ways you can go about it and I’ve listed the best ones higher up this guide..

With so many different materials and substances to mix together for this purpose, the possibilities are virtually endless.

As far as the actual process of creating this solution with the needed materials, the steps are found in the list below.

  1. Choose the best materials for your vinyl seats.
  2. Combine the chosen materials in a clean spray bottle.
  3. Spray the solution generously onto the seats and allow it to soak in for some time and proceed to clean them as usual.

Once you have chosen the best materials to suit your needs, you will simply combine the chosen materials in a clean spray bottle for the easiest possible use.

Just like a commercial vinyl cleaner that you can find at the store, you will be able to spray the solution generously onto the seats and allow it to soak in for some time, proceeding to clean it as you normally would.

Related questions

Are there any additional steps that should be taken before actually scrubbing the stains out of a vinyl boat seat?

Before you proceed to spray or apply your homemade solution to your vinyl boat seats, it is a good idea to get rid of any debris or obstructive objects that could be in the way.

This can be done by a quick wipe beforehand or even with a boat vacuum. Removing these items beforehand will prevent any potential scratching while you are scrubbing.

What are some of the best commercial cleaners for vinyl boat seats?

If you would rather not mix together your own homemade vinyl boat seat cleaner, there are some very effective commercial cleaners that you can use instead. Some of the best brands of cleaners include IOSSO Stain Remover, 303 Fabric and Vinyl Cleaner, and 303 Aerospace Protectant. You can also use a UV inhibitor to maintain quality.

The last word…

I hope you’ve learned at least a little from our tests on a homemade vinyl cleaner for boat seats that should give reasonable results. I would still recommend using something more fit for purpose though, as outlined in the seat cleaning guide.

And finally, don’t use any materials that can be harmful to the vinyl itself. Once you have made this decision, you will combine these ingredients into a clean spray bottle and proceed as you normally would.

For all boat owners, especially those of us who have light colored vinyl seats, keeping up with the interior of our vehicles can seem like a near-impossible or expensive task. However, there are plenty of thrifty ways that you can clean the vinyl seats on your boat – it’s just about testing on a small patch first…