How to Clean Marine Vinyl Fabric

Having a boat is all fun and games until you have to get rid of the mold on the seats. Luckily, marine vinyl fabric is easy to clean.

There are several techniques you can try to ensure your fabric’s cleanliness. Continue reading to learn how to clean marine vinyl fabric. Whether you’re using simple cleaning supplies or a pressure washer, this guide will show you how to use both.

What Is Marine Vinyl?

Marine vinyl or boat vinyl is a type of expanded vinyl that is durable, easy to clean, and weatherproof. You’ll find it on boat upholstery because the material is resistant to outdoor elements, unlike its standard counterparts.

Standard vinyl either has no backing or is very light. You’ll only find it on the trim of automobiles, table cloth, stools, tarps, and on other less wear-prone areas. Expanded vinyl is durable for restaurant seats, boars, and other heavy-use furniture.

Vinyl’s popularity grew in World War II when rubber was scarce. The fabric quickly attracted many people because of its waterproofing properties. Today, you’ll find 60% of vinyl in commercial areas, including construction, textiles, and transportation. 

Check out these three unique characteristics of marine vinyl.

Resistant to Moisture

Place a cushion in your garden or near your pool, and it will eventually accumulate mold and mildew. Marine vinyl is simply different. Even if the boat operates in the seas, it still offers excellent moisture resistance.

High moisture settings like the sea are prone to mold and mildew. So pick a fabric like marine vinyl to prevent bacteria and fungus.


Most upholstery fabrics fade, shrink or degrade under the sun. Marine vinyl is made especially for boats as they are always out and exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. It doesn’t break down nor fade, making it ideal for boat cushions and other outdoor furniture. 


Marine-grade vinyl is also resistant to stains. Because it can withstand numerous harsh abrasions, it won’t look old after every clean. You don’t need to stress about spilling your drinks on the yacht because the upholstery material makes cleanup more convenient.

This characteristic also makes individuals use marine vinyl on their motor homes and recreational vehicles. Nothing compares to its longevity!

How to Clean Marine Vinyl

Cleaning and deodorizing marine vinyl fabric is a breeze. Here’s how.

  1. Prepare the Cleaning Materials

When regularly maintaining boat vinyl, you will need the following:

  • Water
  • Dish soap or all-purpose boat cleaner
  • Sponge
  • Clean cloth
  • Protective sealant
  • Spray bottle or cloth (optional)
  1. Wet the Surface

Use a wet cloth to wet the surface or spray water on the cushion. You may also pour water on the surface. Don’t hesitate to put water on this type of vinyl. It’s durable so that it won’t wear. 

  1. Scrub with Soap

Once the boat seats are wet, use dish soap and a sponge to scrub them. You can also try specialized cleaning materials like an all-purpose boat cleaner. 

This solution makes sure that the leather doesn’t crack or dry. It won’t degrade your vinyl’s stitching because it doesn’t have bleach or alcohol. 

Even if the fabric doesn’t easily tear, scrub carefully to avoid too much abrasion. Be sure to remove all dirt, debris, and sweat. 

  1. Remove the Soap and Dry

After scrubbing the fabric, remove the soap with water and dry it. Don’t let vinyl seats dry on their own to avoid mold and mildew. 

Use a clean cloth to wipe it completely dry. Just because marine-grade vinyl is long-lasting doesn’t mean it will never deteriorate!

  1. Apply a Protective Sealant

There are many protective coatings explicitly made for boat vinyl. Pick one that moisturizes and protects your fabric from UV rays. This coating also serves as a daily tool for removing grease and stains on the material. 

Removing Mildew Stains

Learning how to clean marine vinyl is not enough because it doesn’t get rid of molds. Marine vinyl is less prone to mildew than other standard and commercial vinyl fabrics. But here’s what you should do if it accumulates on your cushions and seats.

  1. Use a Gentle Mildew Remover

Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of mold removers on the market. Read each product’s labels and descriptions and make sure they are specifically formulated for boat use. Mold or mildew removers for boats are different from those for home use. 

The product should also be safe to use on vinyl material. Lastly, pick a mildew remover without harmful chemicals like bleach. This powerful chemical can damage the fabric in no time. 

  1. Wipe Away the Moisture

Once you have applied the mildew remover, wipe away any moisture left on the cloth. Keep practicing appropriate cleaning and drying techniques to avoid mildews. 

Cleaning It with a Power Washer

Is it safe to use a power washer for your marine vinyl? Some say it’s okay, but others do not recommend it. 

I say only use a power washer on marine vinyl for tough dirt and stains. It should be your last resort when mild soap or boat cleaners are not working, though this is unlikely to happen. You can also try a pressure washer on boat seats if a vacuum won’t cut it for cleaning. 

Never use a power washer for regular maintenance. It will damage the vinyl because of excessive pressure on one spot. Marone vinyl may easily rip if you power-wash almost every day. 

Do’s and Don’t’s of Cleaning Marine Vinyl

Keep in mind the do’s and don’t’s when maintaining your vinyl fabric:

  • DO wash marine vinyl regularly.
  • DO use cleaning products specially formulated for boats.
  • DO use a protectant cream for daily maintenance and a smooth appearance
  • DO wipe the vinyl every after cleaning
  • DO keep your boat in a dry spot
  • DON’T be afraid to wet marine vinyl
  • DON’T use a power washer all the time
  • DON’T use bleach to treat mildew

Marine Vinyl Is Easy to Clean!

We hope you found this tutorial helpful. The entire cleaning process for marine vinyl fabric is more convenient than regular vinyl because it’s stain and moisture-resistant.

What’s your best tip for maintaining your boat vinyl? If you have more questions about your marine vinyl, feel free to comment below. 

Regularly clean your marine vinyl with basic cleaning materials for the boat, and it will last up to twenty years! And for more great choices for your projects, check out our selection of automotive fabrics!

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