How To Clean A Boat Carpet – Without Harming It!

Maintaining your boat’s carpet clean is vital to keep it in good shape and prolong its lifespan. Also, boating with a dirty and smelly carpet underfoot is not pleasant.

There are several methods to clean a boat carpet, and not using the right one can cause you to work harder without seeing any results, waste time, or worse, damage your boat carpet.

But no worries, this article has you covered. Here, you’ll find everything you need to know on how to clean a boat carpet to restore it to its original glory and keep it in great condition for the long haul.

Tools You’ll Need To Clean Your Boat Carpet.


You can use a classic vacuum to do the job, but if you want to save time and nerves, opt for a wet-and-dry vacuum. Not only does it sucks up dirt but also water, which shortens the drying time after washing.

Soft Brushes

A soft brush is gentler on the carpet fibers and will allow you to clean it thoroughly without damaging it. Depending on how stubborn the spots are, you may also need a stain remover for spot treatment before washing. With a quality brush and solution, you’ll be able to remove stains and dirt more easily without much effort. However, when buying a cleaner, make sure it’s marine environment safe.

Garden Hose And Bucket

A garden hose and water bucket is the most appropriate method to rinse the carpet after applying cleaning solutions. You can use a high-pressure washer, but you need to be cautious not to damage your boat carpet. If you use one, be very careful and hold it 20cm away from the carpet surface.

Gentle Cleaner

In addition to these tools, remember to use a gentle and waterway-safe cleaner, such as dish soap or Simple Green. Stay away from cleaners that contain bleach or harsh detergents, as they can harm your health, carpet, and the environment. 

Steps For Cleaning Your Boat Carpet

Step 1: Prepare Your Carpet

Before you start cleaning the carpet, remove all the gear and equipment so the water doesn’t damage them. Bear in mind that water may leak into the floor locker when rinsing the carpet with the hose, so it would be a good idea to remove all the stuff from there.

Step 2: Remove Debris

Next, you want to remove any loose debris from your boat carpet using a vacuum cleaner to get rid of sand, grit, and other dirt particles. Make sure the surface is completely dirt-free; otherwise, you’ll get muddy, mucky water, which is harder to clean.

Step 3: Prepare Cleaning Solution

After vacuuming, prepare a cleaning solution of warm water, gentle dish soap, or a marine carpet cleaner. You may also use a pressure washer for more thorough cleaning if needed. Remember, always set it on low pressure so as not to damage the carpet.

Step 4: Scrub the Area

Using a soft brush, scrub the carpet gently, following the grain of the carpet, meaning from front to back, and working in sections. Make sure to saturate the carpet well with the cleaning solution. For more efficient scrubbing, wear gloves and use your hands to work the cleaner into the carpet.

Step 5: Rinse

When you finish with one section, rinse well using a bucket or a hose. Then, do the same with another section until you clean the whole surface.

Step 6: Remove Leftover

Once you have finished all the sections, rinse your carpet one more time using the hose or washer pressure. This will remove any leftover cleaning solution and leave your carpet looking and feeling fresh and clean.

Step 7: Let Dry

When you are done with the cleaning, remove excess water with a wet/dry vacuum or by blotting with towels. Leave the carpet to air dry completely. If your boat has windows, leave them open. Aerate as much as possible. You can also put a fan to speed up the drying time; it works fantastically.

4 Effective Ways to Remove Mold and Mildew From Boat Carpets.

Because boats are exposed to salt water and humidity, mold and mildew spots are almost inevitable. You can use several ways to remove mold and mildew from your carpet.

1 Washer pressure

This method is very effective in removing mold and mildew when done correctly. To ensure you don’t damage the carpet, hold the nozzle about 20 cm (8″) away from the surface and work slowly to clean all the stains. Once done, suck up the water using a wet/dry vacuum or towels.

2 Vinegar

This is also an excellent method. Just be aware that the odor is pretty strong, and it takes time to get rid of it. Mix 1 gallon of warm water with 1200 ml ( 40 ounces ) of white vinegar and apply to the carpet—Scrub with a soft brush by section. Then rinse and dry.

 3 Mildew Remover

Mix a mild detergent solution, water, and a commercial stain remover in a spray bottle. Spray the affected area and gently scrub with a sponge or soft brush. Rinse the area thoroughly using a garden hose or a bucket.

To prevent future mold and mildew issues, keep your boat carpet as dry as possible. Regularly remove dirt, soil, and salt by vacuuming and spot-cleaning with a sponge or brush.

4 Steam cleaner

This is also an excellent method to remove mold and mildew. A steam cleaner uses hot water to clean the carpet fibers and a vacuum to pull the water out, along with dirt and debris.

Start by vacuuming your boat carpet to remove loose dirt, then use a mild detergent mixed with water in the steam cleaner. Some steam cleaners also come with an upholstery attachment, which helps clean bunk carpets and other areas. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for both the cleaner and your carpet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use shaving cream for cleaning boat carpets?

It can eliminate minor stains on certain types of fabrics, but it’s not the ideal solution for boat carpets. You’ll get better results with a boat carpet cleaner specially designed for marine carpets.

Q: Is it OK to pressure wash the boat carpet?

Yes, pressure washing can be effective at cleaning boat carpets, but be cautious when using a powerful gas-powered pressure washer. Use common sense and avoid applying too much pressure that might damage the carpet fibers. Keep in mind that if you apply soap to the entire carpet, it may take a while to remove all the soap and bubbles with the pressure washer.

Q: How can I make a homemade cleaner for the boat carpet?

You can create a simple homemade cleaner for your boat carpet by mixing equal parts white vinegar and warm water. Spray the solution onto the carpet and gently scrub with a soft brush. Rinse the carpet thoroughly with a hose or Bucket of water afterward. This natural solution can help remove dirt and mildew stains without causing damage to the carpet fibers.

Q: How Do I Steam Clean The Boat Carpet?

Steam-cleaning boat carpets can effectively remove dirt, stains, and debris. To steam clean your boat carpet, you will need a steam cleaner that is safe to use on marine carpets. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for operating the steam cleaner. Typically, you will need to fill the steam cleaner with water and then use the steamer attachment to cover the carpet area. 

Q: Is Simple Green a good choice for cleaning marine carpets?

Simple Green is an environmentally friendly all-purpose cleaner that can be used for cleaning boat carpets. To clean your marine carpet with Simple Green, dilute the cleaner with water and apply the solution to the carpet using a soft brush. Rinse the carpet thoroughly with water to remove any residue. Simple Green is a safe option for cleaning marine carpets, but always do a spot test on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire carpet.

Q: How often should I clean a boat carpet?

To keep your boat carpet in good shape for the long haul, the best would be to clean it two or three times a year. Maintaining your carpet will prevent discoloration and keep stains and odors at bay.

Q: How do you remove fish blood from the carpet?

If you have fish blood, don’t use warm water, as it will help blood to adhere to the carpet. You are better off cleaning with cold water; it’s very effective at removing blood stains.

Final Words

Cleaning a boat carpet is simple, but it requires some work and time, which can be a hassle for some boat owners. However, if you don’t want to bother with the cleaning, there are great boat cleaning service companies that will be more than happy to do the job. If you want to do it yourself, the guide above will help you make your boat carpet look brand new!

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4 thoughts on “How To Clean A Boat Carpet – Without Harming It!”

  1. I think a good wet/dry vacuum is a must for a boat, especially with all that moisture, that could damage a conventional dry vacuum cleaner. Even more efficient is a steam cleaner, if you have one. These work wonderfully well and beat the effort of scrubbing the carpets by hand, unless of course, you have a very bad stain.

    Vinegar is a great alternative, apart from the smell, so I think I prefer the option of using Simple Green. I have heard this is quite pricey. Do you know of any more economical commercial cleaners?

    • Hi Michel,

      Absolutely! A wet/dry vacuum is indeed a valuable tool for boat carpet cleaning. Other than Simple Green, there are several good products, such as Spray Nine, Car Guys, Spray Nine, and Boat Juice, to name a few.

      These are just a few examples, and there are certainly other brands out there as well. It’s always a good idea to read reviews and check product labels to ensure they meet your specific needs and are compatible with your boat carpet.

      I hope this helps, and happy carpet cleaning! Let me know if there’s anything else I can assist you with.

  2. A very helpful post as usual!

    I have some old stains on my boat carpet, and they’re really stubborn to remove. Besides the shaving cream and Simple Green methods you mentioned in the post, do you have any other suggestions for easily getting rid of them (especially homemade ones)? 

    I’ve heard that baking soda can be helpful in these situations. What are your thoughts on using it for stain removal on boat carpets?

    • Hi there,

      Although nothing bits a good carpet cleaner, baking soda can be a great option for removing stubborn stains on boat carpets. Give it a try by sprinkling baking soda on the stains, letting it sit, scrubbing gently, and then vacuuming it up. Good luck!


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