How to Clean a Boat Hull – The Easy Way

How to Clean a Boat Hull – the Easy Way

We love having a boat and it’s awesome to be able to pull it up to our dock, but if we leave it off the lift, sitting in the water, for a couple of days there is this nasty stain that forms around the waterline.

I’m going to share the easiest, most economical way to remove the nasty stain at the waterline from the hull of your boat.

This is how stained the back of the boat was after leaving it in the water for about a week.

Boat Hull Before Cleaning

So we love having a boat and being able to keep it at our dock in the water when we know we’ll be using it frequently over a period of days, but then we are left with this nasty ring around the boat.  The tannins in the water make our white bottom a lovely rust color.  In the past, this required, either hiring someone to clean the bottom or lots of scrubbing or using toxic cleaners.  So I had to find a better way to remove the stains.  I needed an environmentally friendly solution that wouldn’t scratch the hull.


Chief Mermaid & Mojito Maker

This is me hangin’ out on the boat – it’s an absolutely gorgeous day in the Florida Keys – doing what wannabe mermaids do best…splashing in the waves + soaking up the sun.

Life’s amazing.  Want to learn more?  

How to Clean a Boat Hull the Easy Way


How to Clean a Boat Hull the Easy Way in 3 Easy Steps

It’s amazing how well this works.  You don’t need any fancy, expensive hull cleaning products, just a simple cleaner called Bar Keeper Friend.  I love this product I use it to safely clean my stainless steel sink and my glass top stove.  Let’s get started making your boat hull white again!  Here’s a quick look at the process.

Grab your Supplies

Grab a small bucket, so you can make a paste using a little water and powdered Bar Keepers Friend cleanser.  You’ll need a clean sponge like you’d use in your kitchen with a smooth side and a lightly abrasive side.

Make a Paste

Start by shaking the powdered Bar Keepers Friend into a bucket and add a little bit of water to make a paste.

Follow the step-by-step instructions detailed below and you’ll have a shiny white hull in no time.

Get to Work!

Work in small sections, using light pressure and rinse with a hose as you go.

Some areas will need a little more scrubbing than others but if you get your boat waxed yearly and don’t let the boat sit in the water too long.

Easy to Follow Step-by-Step Instructions for Cleaning a Boat Hull the Easy Way

Experience Tip:  Wear a good pair of rubber gloves.  It was so hot the day I cleaned the boat that I decided to take my gloves off and it was days before my iPhone would recognize my thumbprint.  This is a gentle cleanser but it does have micro-scrubbing particles and it will dry out your hands.  Just trust me on this, you’ll be glad you wore gloves.

Non-Toxic & Environmental:

Bar Keepers Friend is an oxalic acid cleanser and it’s safe to use on cookware, porcelain.  The cleanser was originally formulated with an acidic compound found in rhubarb after a chemist noticed how clean his pot became when he boiled the plant.
Oxalic acid cleansers are acidic instead of alkaline, which makes it more effective against rust, tarnish, oxidation, mineral scale, hard water, and lime deposits than most other cleaning products. Bar Keepers Friend doesn’t use fillers or bleaches, making our products biodegradable and safe for septic systems.

V.O.C  and Chlorine Free

What you’ll need:

How to clean a boat hull the easy way supplies


  • A small bucket.  (I could have used a much smaller bucket)
  • A Can or 2 of Bar Keepers Friend Powder.  You can use the liquid but you’ll need to use more and that means more money.
  • A non-scratch kitchen scrub sponge, like Scotch-Brite Non-scratch Scrub Sponge
  • A hose with a spray nozzle.  If you don’t have access to a hose you’ll need another bucket of clean water and a car washing sponge.

Easy to Follow Step-by-Step Instructions Cleaning a Boat Hull - The Easy Way


Step 1 - Make a Paste

Experience Tip:  Make small batches of paste, if you are working on a hot day you’ll end up having to add water frequently if you make too much paste at once.

  • Shake Bar Keepers Friend Powder into your bucket.
  • Add water a little at a time to make a paste.
  • You want the paste to be wet and easy to spread but not too wet.  You want the paste to be thick enough to stick to your sponge.

Bar Keepers Friend Paste for Cleaning a Boat Hull

Step 2 - Get Started Cleaning Your Boat Hull

Experience Tip: Working in small sections will make this faster and easier.

  • Spray the boat with water
  • Wet your sponge
  • Apply paste to a small wet section of the boat hull

Work in small sections to clean the boat hull

boat hull with stain at waterline

  • Spray off the paste with a hose or wipe with clean water and a clean sponge.

Spray paste off boat hull

  • Repeat the process and continue working in small sections.
  • Sit back and look how awesome the boat looks and be amazed at how easy it was to get the boat clean

Clean white boat hull

Step 3 - Rinse Boat

  • Once you’ve completed scrubbing the hull and are satisfied with the results rinse the boat thoroughly with clean water.  I like to use the hose on the full stream.
  • It’s time to grab a Mojito – You deserve it.  Your boat looks amazing and it was way easier than you thought it would be!  Sit back and admire your hard work.  You rock.  I’m so proud of you.

How to Clean a Boat Hull the Easy Way

The Cost to Clean a Boat Hull

To have our boat cleaned used to cost us $100 -$150.  Now we have money left for a dinner by boat or a shopping spree.

$2 - Bar Keepers Friend

1 container of Bar Keepers Friend powder is about $2.  Our boat is 21 feet and 1 container was more than enough for me to clean the entire boat.

$2 - Scotch-Brite Sponge

Since the cleanser is gentle 1 sponge was enough for me to finish the entire boat and the sponge can still be used for other types of outdoor cleaning.

Priceless - Elbow Grease

Ok so, $4 to clean the boat is much better than the $100 – $150 to pay someone to clean it for you.  Spend the savings on dinner or a shopping spree.


  1. Carson

    This works like magic with no expensive chemicals. Thank you for the tip!

  2. Al

    This works great. It was nice to not have to use strong smelling chemicals that you have to use with heavy duty rubber gloves. Great tip, Thank you! (And much cheaper)


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Chief Mermaid & Mojito Maker

This is me hangin’ out on the boat – it’s an absolutely gorgeous day in the Florida Keys – doing what wannabe mermaids do best…splashing in the waves + soaking up the sun. Life’s amazing.  Want to learn more?  

“Dive deep for the treasure that you see!”

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