How Do I Clean My Boat Floor?

All boat floors will deteriorate if not maintained properly and regularly. Pontoon and boat flooring is expensive because it serves the important purpose of protecting your boat’s subfloor. It’s one of those things you won’t want to replace often, and well-maintained marine flooring will add value to your boat when you go to sell.

Your flooring for boats and pontoons sees a lot of traffic and can be the first thing to show its age and wear and tear. Without proper boat floor cleaning, floors start looking unappealing and will start to harbor mold and mildew, dirt, grime and a whole lot more ugly marine contaminants. Caring for your pontoon boat flooring extends its life and potentially the life of your entire watercraft.

How much time you spend cleaning and maintaining boat flooring will depend on the type of pontoon flooring installed. Below you’ll find boat floor cleaning tips and the best ways to clean the three most popular marine flooring options on the market today.

Cleaning Teak and other Wood Boat Flooring
Routine Maintenance
Periodic cleaning with a brush (soft, stiff or a soft scratch pad) across the grain should remove most dirt easily. Simple soap and water is a good option for a better clean. Just be sure not to leave any standing water when cleaning because fresh water is an enemy of teak and many other hardwoods. Fresh standing water is the top cause of mold and mildew growth in wood.

Never use acids to clean wood boat floors because it weakens the pulp and breaks down the caulking, causing the loss of protection from water and UV rays. Acid is also not good for the environment. Pressure washers are not recommended for cleaning wood boat flooring because they can have a sand blasting effect, but a garden hose and spray nozzle are okay if water is dried promptly.

Stain Removal
Use a good commercial cleaner designed for hardwoods. The toughest stains may require a wood stripper. Refer to your owner’s manual for the best products.
Deep Cleaning
For a deeper clean and a brightening of the wood’s light teak grays and silvers, there are some two-step (or more) systems available. Many manufacturers also recommend giving your deck a light sanding every two years. For the best overall boat wood deck cleaning and maintenance, many owners prefer to leave proper maintenance to the professionals to avoid any irreversible mistakes.

Although beautiful, wood boat flooring, especially teak, is one of the most expensive options available for boat floors and one of the priciest and labor intensive to maintain.

Cleaning Boat Carpet

Routine Maintenance
Dirt and debris can be picked up in marine carpet with a broom and dust pan, a cordless stick vacuum, a cordless blower or a wet/dry shop-vac if you have electricity available. You’ll want to do this daily or weekly during the boating season.
Stain and Spot Removal
Boat carpet is very prone to staining – from pets, food and beverage spills, blood, fish guts, mold, mildew and algae. The quicker you can catch them, the easier they are to remedy with a simple brush and some soap and water.
For tougher, embedded stains, you can go natural with an even mixture of water and vinegar. Let sit for 15-30 minutes. Blot and repeat until the spot is removed. There are many commercial boat carpet stain removers available. Just be sure they are safe for marine environments, always read directions and warnings carefully, and test in an inconspicuous area first to be sure it won’t damage your specific marine carpet.
Deep Cleaning
When it comes time to clean your boat carpeting over the entire length of your vessel, something you should do monthly during high season, you’ve got a few options available:
  • Hand scrubbing is the most economical option, though it can be a time consuming, back-breaking weekend project. Tackle small areas at a time starting in one corner with a stiff brush, bucket filled with water and detergent, and apply some elbow grease. Let it dry naturally in the sun. For the best finished results, fluff with a brush when dry.
  • Steamer or commercial/rented carpet cleaner if you have access to electricity.
  • Power wash but be careful because too much pressure can damage pontoon boat carpeting.
  • Professional carpet cleaning service (expensive) or a marina boat washing service.

Cleaning Vinyl Marine Flooring

Routine Maintenance

One of marine vinyl flooring’s most redeeming qualities is its low maintenance. With G‑Floor Outdoor & Marine vinyl flooring, dirt, soil and debris don’t penetrate the surface, making cleaning easy without any harsh scrubbing. We recommend regular cleaning weekly with water using a damp cloth, mop, broom or vacuum. You can also use mild detergent and warm water if you wish or a vinyl safe cleaner. Here are some helpful G‑Floor Outdoor & Marine tips:

  1. Spray the surfaces down regularly to avoid buildup
  2. Spills should be wiped or mopped immediately, with a damp mop or cloth
  3. Remove all debris, surface soils, salt and grit by sweeping or vacuuming the surface
  4. Brush or sweep with cool water using a deck brush or soft to medium stiff brush
  5. Apply soap or cleaner to penetrate the dirt/stain for 2-3 minutes
  6. Lightly scrub the area and rinse off the flooring
  7. Repeat on the affected area until completely clean
  8. Allow floors to dry before proceeding with traffic

Stain Removal

Although marine vinyl pontoon and boat flooring resists stains from gas, oils, fish and common spills that accompany the boating lifestyle, vinyl marine flooring is not entirely stain-proof. Any spills should be dealt with as soon as possible with water, soap and brush. When needing a tougher cleaning solution for hard to remove spots, always follow manufacturer’s recommendations and only use detergents compatible with marine environments.

For G‑Floor Outdoor & Marine customers, we recommend these heavy stain cleaning instructions:

Tools/Supplies Needed: Oxi-Clean laundry spray bottle, Oxi-Clean laundry refill, scrub brush, latex gloves or oven cleaning gloves, safety glasses.

    1. Practice safety: wear latex or oven cleaning gloves and safety glasses to prevent any cleaners from getting on your skin or in your eyes. Consult the Oxi-Clean website for more handling instructions.
    2. If the stain is near the aluminum edge trim, tape off the aluminum with masking tape or painters tape to prevent any discoloration of the aluminum.
    3. Utilize Oxi-Clean Laundry spray bottle and refill the spray bottle with Oxi-Clean laundry refill as needed.  Spray Oxi-Clean on the stain, apply a thick coating to stain and surrounding area of stain.
    4. Leave Oxi-Clean sit on stain for an hour; then scrub with a scrub brush.
    5. Wipe off cleaner with a dry towel.
    6. Repeat step 3, and allow Oxi-Clean to dry on the stain. Leaving Oxi-Clean on the surface does not harm the vinyl.
    7. Allow the floor to be exposed to the sun for a few days. Direct sun light activates the cleaners into the clear vinyl layer.
    8. Repeat as necessary.

Oxi-Clean can be harmful to aquatic life. Take precautions and do not spray Oxi-Clean into the water.

Never use marine hull cleaner, acetone, or undiluted bleach to clean vinyl boat and pontoon flooring.

Deep Cleaning
The fastest way to get you back to enjoying the water and cleaning your vinyl marine flooring easily is by hosing it down. For a deeper clean that is just as simple, pressure wash and let air dry in the sun. G‑Floor Outdoor & Marine vinyl flooring is so strong, durable and waterproof, it handles a power washer with ease.

You’ll find more G‑Floor Outdoor & Marine cleaning and maintenance instructions and tips on the Outdoor & Marine care and maintenance page.

Unlike other boat flooring options which require much more time and expense to clean and maintain, G‑Floor Outdoor & Marine vinyl flooring is the #1 pontoon boat flooring choice for OEMs, renovators and individual boat owners because of its easy-care characteristics and so much more.

Important: these tips and methods are general recommendations only. Always follow your marine flooring manufacturer’s cleaning and maintenance guidelines for best results and for maintaining your boat flooring warranty.