Boat Detailing Checklist

Man wiping down the side of a boat

To keep your boat in excellent condition, you need to schedule professional boat detailing on both the exterior and interior. Detailing is a vital cleaning procedure that you’ll want to perform at least twice a year. A thorough detail prevents your boat from fading, chalking or hazing due to constant sun exposure. Detailing also helps you identify potential issues with your vessel.

If you cannot or do not want to detail your boat yourself, your local boatyard can match you with a contractor who can detail your boat for you. Professional boat detailing ensures that your vessel is clean and protected from the harsh Florida environment.

Benefits of Boat Detailing

UV Protection

Boat detailing reduces exposure to UV rays that can damage the boat’s paint, interior and hull. Waxing the surface of the boat creates a barrier that shields the paint from the sun.

Debris Removal

Sand, salt, grit and other natural debris can cling to the hull after each use. A professional boat detailer can remove debris from the decking, seats and hull. This improves the boat’s appearance and protects mechanical components from being damaged by contaminants.

Reduces Drag

Detailing and waxing the boat reduce drag on the water. Detailing improves the overall performance in the water, which also improves fuel efficiency and reduces wear on the hull.

Retains the Boat’s Value

Routine boat detailing will keep the interior and exterior of your boat in excellent shape and help retain its market value. If you decide that it is time to sell the boat, you are more likely to get a good price for it.

What Tools Are Needed for Boat Detailing?

Some detailing jobs are easy and do not require a professional. So, if you decide to perform a DIY project, you’ll need some tools that make your job easier and give you the results you are looking for. Some common boat detailing tools include:

  • Hard water spot remover
  • Isinglass cleaner
  • Marine cleaner
  • Degreaser
  • Glass cleaner
  • Brushes
  • Wax
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Hose with spray nozzle

Boat Detailing Step-by-Step

Rinse the Boat

Begin by using a hose to rinse your boat to remove any loose dirt thoroughly. Start at the highest point, otherwise, you will be cascading dirty water over an area you already sprayed.

Soap + Cleaners

Add soap specifically made for cleaning boats. Do not use household cleaning agents—they may contain pH balances that damage the gel coat or boat surface.


Waxes are designed to protect your boat’s finish from UV rays, grime, salt and more. Wax fills pores in the gel coat and dries to a hard finish that lasts the entire season. It should have a micro-cleaning or polishing agent and should not be abrasive. Do not use an automotive sealant that does not specifically say that it can be used for gel coat surfaces.

Interior Cleaning

Tough stains should be addressed with a dedicated marine vinyl cleaner and followed up with a thorough rinse, then the application of a vinyl protectant. Interior cushions can become musty over time, blemished by spills and invaded by mildew. To clean them, remove the covers and wash them in cold water.


Some decay-resistant woods such as teak, cedar and oak can be left unfinished, though finishing enhances their nautical appearance. The advantage of unfinished wood is that you will never have to refinish it. If installed properly, it will last generations. Most boat owners prefer, however, the grain-enhanced sheen of an oil or film finish. At this point, you have several options. You can use oil, varnish, shellac or epoxy to finish the wood.

Boat Detailing Services in Pensacola, Florida

A proper yacht detailing service is a multi-step approach that should be entrusted to qualified hands only. Pensacola Shipyard has various experienced, licensed and insured contractors on-site for all your vessel’s needs.

Call us today at 850.780.8441 to schedule professional detailing services.

Download the Boat Detailing Checklist