One area of a boat that takes a lot of abuse while it is in use, at the dock, on the trailer, or in a dry rack is the non-skid. Non-skid is essential to keep people walking around the vessel safe. However, the textured surface presents a challenge to boat owners. Unlike a smooth surface, the texture traps dirt. For this reason, you’ll need the right soap and cleaning supplies to brighten the deck. Here is what you need to know about how to clean boat non-skid decks properly. 

What Is The Importance Of A Non-Skid Boat Deck

A non-skid deck is extremely important when it comes down to safety on a vessel. For the most part, center console boats, flats boats, and runabouts come standard with non-skid. 

With that said, the non-skid provides a non-slip surface to prevent the operator and passengers from falling. This is most critical when the decks are wet. Remember, the slickness of the deck is further escalated when it is coated with fish guts. 

Unfortunately, people fall aboard vessels regularly, and it often leads to serious injuries. The texture of the deck provides traction, no matter if you’re wearing shoes or are not wearing shoes. 

However, understand that non-skid is not always comfortable on bare feet due to its abrasive nature. 

Why Do Non-Skid Boat Decks Become Dirty

No matter if you have a carpeted deck, teak deck, or non-skid deck, they quickly become dirty for a multitude of reasons. Here are the primary reasons why boat decks become coated in dirt. 

Sitting With Or Without A Cover

A vessel that is stored with the cover or without the cover accumulates dirt. Despite a full enclosure, dirt manages to find its way in thus settling on the vessel’s deck. 

Unfortunately, an uncovered boat requires frequent maintenance to prevent dirt from becoming embedded in the finish. 

Uncovered boats are prone to bird poop, salt accumulation, deteriorating leaves, dust, and more. All of these mentioned get deep into the non-skid crevices. For this reason, the deck must be brushed.


As an avid angler, my boat decks were frequently splattered with fish blood and slime. Fish blood and slime, if left to dry, become challenging to remove. 

To reduce the amount of slim and blood on a non-skid deck, I recommend placing the fish directly into the cooler or holding it for release. 

Importantly, if blood and slime do make contact with the deck, turn on the washdown hose and rinse it away before it dries. Once it dries, the cleaning process takes significantly longer. 

General Use

Every day, use soil non-skid decks. No matter if you’re at the beach, docking, and walking, or cruising and lounging, decks get dirty. 

Furthermore, if you’re packing a lunch, dinner, or snack, understand that you’ll be grinding in food between the crevices. 

However, this is not to say you should limit yourself as far as what you do with your boat. Instead, understand that you are likely to have a little scrubbing once you return to the dock. 

Best Cleaning Products For Non-Skid Decks

It is imperative to purchase not only the right soap to clean the deck but also the proper brush head. Selecting the best of each will ultimately make your life easier when it comes to cleaning up. 

Boat Deck Soap

Star Brite Non-Skid Deck Cleaner is perfect for non-skid surfaces. Not only does it lift stains, blood, dirt, grease, and more but it adds a polymer layer of protection. The protective layer reduces repelease contaminants from adhering to the non-skid. 

Brush And Pole 

Selecting the correct brush is important because one that is too soft won’t remove dirt, while one that is too stiff will scratch the deck. 

With that being said, the best brush and pole combination is a Shurhold Medium Deck Brush combined with a Shurhold 6 6-foot pole

Importantly, the pole will save your back while the brush cleans between tight, non-skid deck spaces. 

How To Wash A Boat Non-Skid Deck

Fortunately, cleaning the deck with a brush and Star Brite cleaner is a simple task. Follow these steps to clean your non-skid surface. 

  • Wet the deck with a freshwater hose.
  • Spray a generous amount of Star Brite Cleaner on the deck.
  • Scrub the deck with the pole and brush for up to three minutes. 
  • Rinse away the dirt and Star Brite Cleaner.
  • Inspect the deck and repeat if necessary. 

Although it is not required, I highly recommend drying the deck and other areas of the boat that became wet. Drying the vessel will reduce the onset of water spots. 

Keep Up With Your Boat Non-Skid

Don’t let your boat’s non-skid surface become unsightly. Instead, keep up with regular cleanings to prevent the onset of hard-to-remove stains. As a captain and boat owner, I washed non-skid almost daily. Fortunately, it is very durable and is very resistant to staining, but keeping up with it will make your life easier.