One of the most prone areas to the accumulation of dirt and mold are onboard storage compartments. Unfortunately, the buildup of mold and dirt often goes unnoticed until hours of cleaning are necessary to return the space to its original state. With that being said, it is essential to regularly maintain storage spaces on vessels. Here is how to properly clean boat storage compartments aboard your boat. 

Why Are Storage Compartments Susceptible To Mold And Dirt

Unquestionably, it is impossible to eliminate mold and mildew from entering enclosed storage compartments on boats. 

Despite a closed lid with latches, the space inside becomes unpleasant without routine maintenance. Here is why storage compartments are susceptible to mold and dirt.

Accumulation Of Moisture

Surprisingly, boat compartments are prone to mold as a result of the accumulation of moisture. Furthermore, the lids are fitted with seals to prevent water intrusion in rain, while washing, or operating in rough seas. However, mold and mildew is not directly caused by water intrusion. 

Conversely, mold and mildew rapidly spread in compartments because of temperature changes. The change in air temperature produces condensation with the compartment. Condensation is incapable of drying because of the airtight seal positioned on the compartment cover. For this reason, a storage compartment will become rampant with mold and mildew in short order. 

Airborne Dust And Dirt

A second factor that boat owners need to contend with is keeping boat storage compartments free of dirt and dust. 

I have owned a number of boats and am surprised at how quickly dirt accumulates at the bottom of storage compartments.

Without question, a substantial amount of dust and dirt is aloft in the air that is not visible to the naked eye. When opening a hatch, the dirt settles at the bottom. Over time, the debris becomes visible. 

Completely eliminating dirt and mold from storage comparts is impossible. With that being said regular maintenance will prevent the situation from getting out of hand. 

How Does The Accumulation Of Mold And Dirt Impact Boat Storage Compartments

When considering the impact of mold and dirt on boat storage compartments, it’s not the compartment itself but instead what’s stored within the compartment. 

I have items destroyed such as charts when my boat was stored for an extended period of time. The combination of moisture and mold coated gear and charts much to my disappointment. 

Without a doubt you need to take into consideration everything that you stow within compartments and this includes life jackets, Coast Guard required items, anchors, and more. 

It is important to understand that all objects within an onboard storage compartment are susceptible to being coated in mold. 

With that being said, the mold and dirt is easy to remove from the actual compartment compared to boat gear. The compartments are most often made of fiberglass which allows for quick cleanup. 

Remember to stay on regular cleaning intervals to protect your valuable onboard equipment. 

How To Properly Clean A Boat Storage Compartment

Cleaning boat storage compartments is simple and a minimal amount of supplies are needed. Here is how to properly clean storage compartments on boats. 

Gather Supplies

First and foremost gather all of the supplies needed to wash the compartments. The supplies include a bucket, OrPine boat soap, bleach, sponge, and a chamois mop.

Have Fresh Running Water

Importantly, you’ll need to extend a hose into the boat. I run garden hoses from the dock or at my house when the boat is in the driveway. 

Remove The Objects

Unquestionably, you will need to remove the objects from the compartments. However, it is important to place the objects in a location where they will not become wet. 

Mix Soap And Bleach

To create the mixture used to clean the compartments add one cup of bleach and OrPine soap before filling with water. 

Wash The Compartment

If the compartments are made of fiberglass, with a wet sponge from the mixture, clean the compartments. I have made the mistake of not cleaning underneath the top of the storage locker. Ensure to clean all areas. 

Rinse The Soap Free

The vast majority of vessel storage compartments are fitted with drains. For this reason, the hose water can be sprayed directly into the space. Ensure that all soap is removed in addition to mold and dirt. Should more dirt or mold be present repeat the cleaning process. 

Dry The Storage Compartment

Importantly, you will need to completely dry the compartment prior to adding back supplies and closing the lid. With a chamois mop, dry the interior of the space and allow the hatch to remain open for several hours. 

Clean Your Boat Storage Compartments

I highly recommend cleaning your storage compartments every three months. Additionally, when the boat is not in use, prop the hatches slightly. However, this is only the case if the boat is covered. Keeping your compartments clean is critical to preserving the contents stored within.