Best Way To Clean Vinyl Boat Seats – Your In-Depth Guide

You have a boat with beautiful vinyl seats that have harsh stains on them, and you’ve tried every cleaner you could imagine, but nothing worked? If that is the case, stop right now because if you use the wrong product, not only you’ll spend your precious time trying to repair all the damages, but you’ll also lose money. So if you want to know the best way to clean boat seats, this in-depth, step-by-step guide below will help you do just that.

Cleaning Vinyl Boat Seats

Even though marine-grade vinyl is built to withstand harsh marine conditions, without regular maintenance and care, your boat seats won’t last very long. To prolong their lifespan and maintain their look, you need to keep them clean and dry and avoid long exposures to the sun. Boat sellers recommend regularly, at least once a month, applying a 303 protectant. It’s a UV inhibitor specially designed to protect all kinds of materials, such as vinyl, rubber, plastic, and leather. 

Material You’ll Need

  • A very soft brush or a clean rag
  • Bottle spray
  • ¼ cup liquid soap
  • Soft, clean towel
  • 1 gallon of lukewarm, clean water

Regular Cleaning

1. Remove all the dirt and dust from your seats. 

2. Prepare the solution with 1/4 cup of mild soap and 1 gallon of clean water.

3. Wash the vinyl seats using a soft bristle brush or a clean rag. While cleaning, make sure water doesn’t leak into the seams because if the foam gets wet, it will develop Mildew, which you don’t want.

4. Pour some clean water into a small spray bottle and spray the surface to remove the soap solution from the seats.

5. Dry the vinyl seats using a clean rag and let them aerate in the sun until they are completely dry.

Deep Cleaning

PS: Know that the deep cleaning process won’t be effective if you don’t follow the first step. The seats must be free of dust, sweat residue, and dirt for the vinyl cleaner to penetrate the vinyl fabric properly.

1. When your seats are dry, put some Vinyl cleaner onto a soft rag and rub the vinyl seat fabric thoughtfully.

2. After that, remove the excess vinyl cleaner with a soft dry cloth by wiping the area.

3. When you finish removing the cleaner, spray the surfaces of your seats with a 303 protectant.

4. With a soft dry rag, wipe and polish the seats until the 303 protectant is completely absorbed and dry. This will create a coating finish that will help protect your seats from stains and UV rays.

How to Remove Mildew 

Mold stains are pretty stubborn and thus require special cleaning products to remove them. Many boat owners use Magic Eraser to get rid of mold stains, which is not a good idea because it’s a micro-fine polisher and will scrub away the protective coating on your vinyl seats and accelerate the deterioration of the fabric. So if you want your seats to last for a long time, don’t use a Magic Eraser. Here are the steps to remove those harsh mold stains from the vinyl.

1. Mix some Mildew stain remover and ISSO mold in a small gallon by following the instructions written on the products.

2. Wet a clean rag with the mixture and apply it on the surface of the vinyl seats. Then let it stand for about 10 minutes.

3. With the help of a soft sponge, scrub the area, rinse, and dry, and that’s pretty it!

What if the Stains Don’t Come Out?

If the stains don’t come out, add to the warm water and soap mixture a 1/4 cup of Clorox. This should help remove the stubborn stains. To spot-treat stains, you’ll have to use a spray Clorox clean-up.

Be careful that Clorox doesn’t leak into the stitching. If it does, rinse the area right away with clean water and make sure to dry it thoroughly to avoid any mold build-up.

If there are tough stains like oil or grease on the seats, you can remove them with an Adhesive Remover such as Goo Gone. It does an excellent job of removing stains and maintaining the look of the seats.

Other Methods to Remove Harsh Stains

Sodium Borate and Vinegar

If you don’t want to use chemical removers or don’t have them at your reach, vinegar, and Sodium Borate are great alternatives to try. So let’s see what the steps to follow are:

1. Pour four tablespoons of vinegar and two teaspoons of borax powder into a gallon filled with warm water. Put the mixture in a bottle spray, then shake it thoroughly.

2. With the bottle, spray the mix solution on the stubborn stains and scrub the area with a soft brush (not with a rag because it will absorb the product). Let rest for about 20 to 30 minutes, then wipe the surface with a soft cloth.

3. Apply the 303 protectants and wipe with a soft rag until it has absorbed all the product.

How to Fix Torn Boat Seats

Even if you maintain your seats properly, it’s not always possible to protect them 100 percent from tears, cigarette burn holes, and other damages. So what do you do to repair your seat if something like this happens? Here is a step-by-step that will show you exactly what to do.

PS: Before starting the repair procedure, you must get the right tools. For this, you need to purchase:

  • A vinyl repair kit that includes vinyl repair sheets, graining sheets, and instructions.
  • A vinyl cleaner
  • An adhesive remover.
  • An iron.

1. The first step consists of cleaning the area with a vinyl cleaner/ protectant.

2. Once done, remove the adhesive left from the previous vinyl material with an adhesive remover. This will clean the area thoroughly and help you repair the vinyl more easily.

3. Set the iron at the temperature suggested in the directions. 

4. Pull the edges of the tear together. Then place the vinyl repair sheets on top of the hole. 

5. Once done, place the graining sheets on top of the repair sheets.

6. Go over the graining sheets with the iron to adhere to the vinyl.

7. Finally, let the area rest and cool down.


1. To prolong the lifespan of your vinyl seats, the best thing to do is regularly apply a UV inhibitor. 

2. Sweat, sunscreen, and dirt are the number one enemies of marine vinyl. So it’s highly recommended to clean the boat seats after you return from each trip. Alternatively, you can cover the seats with a beach towel or custom-made seat covers for maximum protection. This way you won’t have to do the cleaning every time you go out at sea.

3. Ink and marker stains are stubborn on any fabric, even more, stubborn on Vinyl seats. Once they penetrate the vinyl, it’s impossible to remove them. Yes, you may be able to make them less visible with a solvent, but take into account that the solvent will destroy the vinyl in the process. The only way you can remove ink and marker stains is by replacing the damaged panel.

Things Not to Do

  • Don’t clean your seat with harsh products such as Simple Green, Ammonia, index, etc. Although they won’t affect the look of the seats right away, one thing you can be sure of is that they will damage the coating on the vinyl and shorten their lifespan without even you realizing it.
  • Goof Off is an acetone-based cleaner, which is also a product you should avoid at all costs for cleaning vinyl seats. Same reason it will destroy the coating.
  • Even if you are tempted, don’t use Magic Eraser to take out stain molds. 
  • Using a small amount of bleach is ok, but too much of it will damage the vinyl coating. So, don’t exaggerate, and try to avoid chlorine. It’s ten times stronger than household bleach and very harmful.


Final Word

I hope you found this little guide helpful and that you’ll make good use of it. However, these cleaning techniques will work well if you follow the steps correctly. Not only will they maintain your seats in good shape, but they will also save you time and money.

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What about you? How do you clean your boat seats? I would love to know.

12 thoughts on “Best Way To Clean Vinyl Boat Seats – Your In-Depth Guide”

  1. Oh man!  This article reminds me its time to start thinking about boat season!  Talk about getting amped up!  Starting the season with clean seats just makes the first time out a little better.  I am really bad about scrubbing, I am more of a “hose it off” and move on kind guy.  Maybe this time I should do a little extra maintenance on my boat.  Happy boating!

    • Hi Jay,

      Yes, it would be a good idea if you want your boat to look brand new:)

      If you have any questions. Please let me know; I am always happy to help.

      Thank you for passing by and the comment. I wish you a great day. Happy boating!

  2. One of the points I found helpful was these methods to remove harsh stains. I always use alcohol wipes. They work well to remove mold and mildew stains from the surface of my vinyl seats. And I avoid using harsh cleaners that contain ammonia. But there are some stains that just don’t come out. I will try your suggestions. Do you have any specific advice on how How to get my white vinyl white again?

    • Hi Paolo,

      Vinyl cleaner, vinegar, bleach, lemon with baking soda will help whiten vinyl seats. However, regularly applying the 303 marine cleaner will help a lot to prevent your seat yellowing.

      If you have any questions, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to assist.

      Thank you for the comment, and I wish you a fantastic day.

  3. So, Vinyl seats are like luxury chairs except for a boat, and can it even go on a yacht? 

    Can it also remove soda, alcohol, and juices?

    This guide was great, providing the materials needed to clean and also the step-by-step process of cleaning it right. This will definitely help a lot of people who have Vinyl seats, they sound very rare if not precious. The design is very classy and also gives it more of a touch to the boat.

    A well-orchestrated article, a very nice touch to add that it gives you a walkthrough to getting mildew. Those are one of the hardest stains to come out, they can get on rugs and carpets, a disgusting stain to get out.

    • Hi Caleb,

      Well, usually, vinyl seats come with the boat:) Yes, with this guide, you’ll be able to clean all sorts of stains. However, as a proverb says, prevention is better than cure. Meaning, try to protect your vinyl seats with protectants and seat covers.

      I hope it helped. If you have any questions, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to assist.

      Thank you for the comment, and I wish you a lovely day.

  4. Hi Daniella! You have given the information about Cleaning Vinyl Boat Seats with some ingredients. Can these ingredients help clean all kinds of vehicles’ seats and vinyl sofas in the house and office? I have never traveled in a boat, but before 20 years ago, when my children were small, we went for a picnic and took a boat drive. But the cleaning ways and materials are very useful. ISo am going to try it on our car seats. 

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

    • Hi Sahida,

      I am glad you found the article helpful 🙂

      Sure, you can use these cleaning products and tips to clean your car seats or your sofas in the house. As long as it’s vinyl fabric, you are good to go.

      I hope it helped. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I’ll be more than happy to assist.

      Thank you for the comment, and I wish you a fantastic day.

  5. Good tips for cleaning stains. Although I don’t have a boat on which I could use this product, but I think that in this way stains on the house can be cleaned, especially for those who have smal children, so stains are inevitable. I will try it and I will recommend it to my friends and family.

    • Hi Bojana,

      I am glad you found the article helpful. Sure, you can use these tips to clean your vinyl seat in your house too. 

      If you have any questions, let me know, I’ll be more than happy to assist. 

      Thank you for the comment, and I wish you a lovely day.

  6. I was looking for best ways to clean the Vinyl seats on our family boat from grandchildren spilling their drinks. Will be using your guide to clean them now, and have booked mark for easy access. The included tips of removing mildew is why I booked mark, as boats get mildew and we going to be using outs more now that it it warm in southern US. 

    • Hi Jannette,

      Thank you for the comment and bookmarked. Yes, mildew is a problem with boats, but if you take care of her well, you can prevent mildew build up. As a proverb says, prevention is better than cure:)

      If you have any questions, please let me know. I’ll be more than happy to help.

      I wish you a fantastic day.


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