Boats are exposed to the elements consistently. The constant exposure to the sun, debris from trees and marinas, salt in coastal regions, and fish blood make keeping seats clean a challenge. In Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, boating is a year-round event because of the mild winters. Due to the mild winters, seats become dirtier as they are not covered and winterized. Here are the best cleaning methods to remove dirt and yellow from use and exposure. 

Why Do Seats On A Boat Get Dirty

Dirt travels through the air at all times, no matter if we are on the water or at our homes. The accumulation of dirt, pollen, and other airborne debris worsen when the winds blow. 

Airborne Debris

However, in addition to airborne debris, seats get dirty from use. When entering and exiting the water, muck or sand accumulate on bathing suits before transferring to cushions and chairs.


Anglers battle and land fish before placing the flopping slimy creatures in the boat. With hooks means blood, and blood sprays when the fish shimmy and shakes. Dried blood and fish guts on seats become challenging to remove. 


Sun exposure over time causes the cushions and seats to become yellowed. Extensive penetration of UV rays over time results in the degradation of vinyl. 


One of the most common issues boaters face is the growth of mold and mildew on seats. High moisture levels cause mold and mildew to grow at a rapid pace. 

What Is The Best Way To Clean Boat Seats

We have washed boats consistently over the last thirty-plus years and have the routine down to a science. Follow these steps when cleaning boat seats and vinyl cushions. 

Step 1. 

Gather a bucket, soft bristle brush, chamois mop, Orpine Boat Wash, and hose. 

Orpine soap is the highest quality boat wash on the market, and we highly recommend using the product when cleaning seats and cushions. 

Step 2. 

Add one capful of soap to a bucket, fill the bucket with one gallon of water, and allow the bubbles to foam. 

Step 3.

Rinse the entire boat or the seats and vinyl with water from a freshwater hose.

Step 4. 

Scrub the seats and cushions with a soft bristle brush after immersing the brush in the bucket of soapy water. 

Step 5. 

Rinse the soap-free from the seat and cushions and inspect for lingering stains and dirt. Repeat the process when debris and stains remain present. 

Step 6.

Dry the seats and cushions with a chamois mop. 

Step 7. 

Disconnect the vinyl cushions and set them vertically in the boat where they will not blow away. The vertical position allows the top and bottom to dry entirely. 

How Do I Get My Boat Seats White Again

Unfortunately, over time boat seats and cushions become darkened from the accumulation of dirt. Embedded dirt and grime present a challenge to remove. Here are two methods to removing stubborn stains. 

Bleach Method

Soft Scrub is incredibly effective at removing stubborn stains but must be used with caution. Avoid wearing clothes that are of value as they risk becoming bleached out. 

Squirt a quarter-inch size of soft scrub on wet boat seats and cushions. Before rinsing and drying, scrub the cushions and seats with a soft bristle brush. 

Ammonia Method

Ammonia is a powerful stain remover—mix 2 tablespoons of ammonia in half a cup of water before pouring it into a spray bottle. 

Spray the mixture on the cushions and scrub with a soft bristle brush. Once the stains are removed, rinse the mixture away before drying. 

How Do You Remove Mildew From Vinyl Boat Seats

The accumulation of mold and mildew is nearly impossible, particularly during the hot, humid months in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. 

Products are available to remove mold and mildew from plastic, vinyl, bolsters, headliners, and upholstery. 

We recommend STAR BRITE Mold And Mildew Removal And Cleaner. The product requires minimal scrubbing and is safe for a multitude of materials. 

Tips To Avoid Your Boat Seats From Becoming Dirty

The best method for preventing yellowing and the accumulation of dirt, mold, mildew on seats and boat cushions is prevention. Follow these methods

Cover Your Boat

Covering your boat is the most critical factor in maintaining clean boat cushions and seats. 

Whether the vessel is stored in the yard, facility, dry rack, or marina, add the cover over the top of the boat after use. 

Boat covers reduce sun exposure, becoming saturated with rain and airborne debris. Reducing the build-up of dirt allows you more time to spend on the water than cleaning. Also important is reducing the impact of UV rays which quickly deteriorate seating and cushions, which is preventable with a cover. 

When it comes to mold and mildew, the problem is to fold. While applying the cover is best, ensure to allow air to circulate beneath the boat covering or mold and mildew will begin to form. 

Rinse Away Fish Blood 

Once fish blood has become dry, it is nearly impossible to remove without aggressive scrubbing. When drops of blood land on seats or cushions, rinse the blood and guts away immediately. 

Wash Boats Consistently

When dirt and debris sit atop seats and cushions for extended periods, it becomes embedded. To avoid the dirt from etching into the vinyl, wash the boat consistently. 

Maintain Your Boat Seats By Washing To Extend The Life And Maintain Appearance

Boats are a significant investment, and routine maintenance increases resale value compared to letting the boat vessel fall into disrepair. Follow the steps of washing seats and vinyl aboard watercraft consistently. A boat, despite age, will turn heads when preserving a shine.