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Hull Yes: Cleaning the Exterior of Your Boat

August 12, 2020

hull cleaner - boat hull cleaner - image 1Knowing how to clean the hull of your boat without breaking the bank may be easier than you know, and it can save you big bucks. After all, cleaning your boat can be expensive. A professional boat cleaning service will charge between $8 and $40 per foot, depending on how much work is required.

By these numbers, a 20-foot boat would coast $160 on the low end and $800 on the high side. Couple that with the fact that the average boat should be cleaned every 4 to 12 weeks depending on location, fresh or saltwater, and boat usage.

I’m not a math wizard, but if you take the cost of hiring a boat cleaner, times the frequency of cleaning, that equals … a lot of money. We have a somewhat less expensive solution, as Bar Keepers Friend is only a couple of bucks.

There are many specialty boat cleaning products on the market. Some of these products are dangerous to the environment, toxic to people, and they can be expensive. I googled the term “hull cleaner” and hull cleaning products and found offers from $16.99 to $35.00 and more. Did I mention BKF is a couple of dollars?

How to Clean the Hull of Your Boat 

Gather your supplies 

  • Purchase a couple of cans of Bar Keepers Friend – your ultimate boat hull cleaner (I mentioned it’s only about two bucks a can, didn’t I.)
  • A clean bucket, plastic or metal
  • A clean sponge. A new sponge is best. I like the little kitchen sponges
  • A water hose with a spray nozzle

Make haste with paste 

  • Sprinkle a small amount of BKF Powder Cleanser into the bucket. Do not try to make a large amount, such as pouring in ½ of a can BKF. This may take a little experimentation. Keep in mind, the paste’s viscosity can be affected by the heat, so start small
  • Add a small amount of water, just enough to make a paste but not too watery
  • Stir until you have a consistent paste

Cleaning that hull 

  • First, wet the hull
  • Coat a small area such as a two-foot square, with the BKF paste
  • Let it sit for a minute or two. As you watch, you’ll see the paste start to do its job. Here’s a short video showing how BKF lifts stains from the hull of a boat. It’s pretty amazing, Cleaning your boat with Bar Keeper’s Friend
  • Ruba-dub-dub with the sponge in small circular motions. Wax on wax off.
  • Rinse with the water hose
  • Repeat as needed

What about stainless steel and aluminum components? 

Stainless Steel – We recommend Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser for your stainless-steel components. Another plus of this product is that it clings to vertical surfaces – like the sides of a boat.

Aluminum — MORE Spray + Foam is effective on aluminum. Did you know that this one product has a spray and a foam setting? It’s two for one.

But Don’t Just Take Our Word for it

Here’s an unsolicited testimonial on BKF as a hull cleaner. “I don’t know who mentioned Bar Keepers Friend as a good cleaner for boats a while ago on THT but thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been using soft scrub and a few other cleaners for cleaning the scum line on my boat for years, and they all worked okay, but when I took the boat out last week for power washing the bottom, I tried Bar Keepers on the scum line.

WOW… worked like a charm without any hard rubbing. Real cheap too and can be bought at my local grocery store.” — The Boating Forum 

Okay, so one positive review on a boat forum. That’s nice. However, this was only the first of more than a dozen reviews on this forum about how fantastic BKF is for cleaning your boat’s hull. And that’s only one forum!

What Causes Hull Stains?

Part of understanding how to clean the hull of your boat is knowing what causes stains. Many factors cause hull stains, including algae, bacteria, pollutants such as diesel fuel, and a heavy concentration of minerals like iron. The good news is that unlike many other products, BKF works to remove all these contaminants.

Bar Keepers Friend is one size fits all. BKF is also effective on tarnish, oxidation, scaling, and lime build-up. Now consider that BKF uses no fillers or bleach, which makes it biodegradable, and you have the best answer for cleaning your hull. BKF is the hull truth. If we can answer any questions, please let us know. Happy boating! We hope you have one “hull” of a time on the water!

If you found this interesting, you might also enjoy this post, A Beginner’s Guide to Boat Cleaning.

About the Author

Randy Clark - Headshot

Randy Clark is a speaker, coach, and author. He publishes a weekly blog at Randy Clark Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He’s a beer geek and on weekends (after COVID-19) he can be found fronting the Rock & Roll band Under the Radar. He’s the proud father of two educators; he has four amazing grandchildren and a wife who dedicates her time to helping others. Randy is the author of the Amazon bestseller The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course ineffective management.



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