Articles, Skills

How To Clean A Kayak (Guide)

Are you worried about your kayak getting dirty? Kayaks are generally built to require minimal care. However, that doesn’t mean you can take it out for a paddle and just put it away afterward without some cleaning, especially if you’re on saltwater. Kayak maintenance is an integral part of having your kayak last a few years vs 10+ years.

Practically speaking, it’s impossible to put a kayak through its paces without damaging it but we can at least strive to reduce that damage through maintenance and cleaning. Here, I will show you the best cleaning tips to do your kayak cleaning to always maintain its quality and longevity.

Cleaning Your Kayak Interior

cleaning kayak

The interior of your kayak is the most difficult to clean, especially in kayaks with a small cockpit for the paddler to climb into. Kayaks come in various types. Your kayak cleaning process is determined by its kind. (1)

Materials Needed

  • Bucket
  • Running Water
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Hose or Pressure Washer

Wooden Kayaks

wooden kayaks

Separate the pieces of your kayak that are removable. A damp cloth should be enough to use in wiping off the inside of your wooden kayak. You don’t want excess moisture accumulating inside the boat; that’s why the cloth shouldn’t be excessively wet.

The footrests or the pedals used to maneuver would collect the most dirt inside. With the use of a damp cloth, you can wipe the dirt away. Don’t rub too hard. It may degrade its color or create a permanent scratch.

Composite Kayaks

composite kayaks

Remove all of the removable pieces of your kayak. You may use a pressure sprayer or a hose with your composite kayak. However, you must maintain low pressure to avoid damaging your kayak’s soft areas. High pressure could potentially crack the thin materials that were used to build the kayak. When pressure washing over decals, be cautious because the water can easily peel the decals from the kayak. (2)

Plastic Kayaks

plastic kayaks

Remove the removable pieces of your kayak before washing it. You may use a pressure washer to clean the insides of your plastic kayak. Polyethylene is a form of molded plastic that is used in building plastic kayaks. These kayaks are sturdy, so spraying the inside and outside of your kayak with high-pressure water won’t be an issue.

The most important task before cleaning it inside is to drain all of the excess water. This will help in ensuring that the kayak is safe from the build-up of mold due to the stagnating water inside.

Get Rid Of Mold From Your Kayak

After using your kayak several times, you may notice mold building up on some parts of your kayak. To get rid of it, follow these cleaning tips:

Step 1: Soak the mold in your kayak by rinsing it with water. It will help soften the mold build-up on the kayak’s surface, making it easier to remove. You may need to soak your kayak for about 30 minutes, depending on the severity of the mold.

Step 2: After soaking, use your 5-gallon bucket and mix it with your cleaning solution. Additional cleaning tip: You may use white vinegar. The measurement of the mixture should be one part of vinegar to one part of water. This mixture works miracles with most molds and molds!

Step 3: Start rubbing the solution on the kayak with your sponge or cleaning brush. To eliminate persistent mold, you may need to thoroughly rub the kayak’s surface. Just make sure that it does not damage the surface of your kayak.

Step 4: You will notice a difference in your kayak as you clean it. Continue doing so a deep clean could take up to an hour, depending on how much mold there is. After removing all the mold, rinse the kayak thoroughly. Ensure to rinse off all the cleaning solutions from your kayak with clean water.

Step 5: Let your kayak dry. It may also be beneficial to place the kayak in the sun for an hour to ensure that the insides are thoroughly dry before storing it.

How To CleanYour Kayak’s Exterior

cleaning kayaks interior

It’s really simple and easy to clean the outside of your kayak. The kayak’s exterior is designed to be wet, making the job a little easier. Here will share with you some tips to clean the kayak’s exterior.

Materials Needed

  • Bucket
  • Running Water in a Hose
  • Microfiber Cloth or Towel
  • Sponge
  • Specialized Kayak Shampoo or Liquid Soap

Step 1: Using the materials gathered, fill the bucket with warm water and mix it with the kayak shampoo or soap. This mixture is gentle enough not to damage the surface of your kayak.

Step 2: Use the sponge and dip it into the bucket of soapy water to clean your kayak’s outsides. Some parts of your kayak may hold persistent dirt that requires a little scrubbing with the sponge. Do not hesitate to do so.

cleaning materials

Step 3: Rinse the soap off of the sponge with clean water when you finish washing the kayak. You may use a hose with your running water to lessen the hassle. Dry the surface of your kayak with the microfiber towel before storing it.

Additional Cleaning Tip

To help prevent mold and mold in the future, it is a good idea to apply a protectant to your kayak after washing it. This will prevent you from washing your kayak manually several times!


Waxing Your Kayak: Is It Necessary?

Definitely, yes! Kayak wax is used mainly to protect the hull. It will apply a protective coating to your kayak, preventing it from UV damage and making it easier to clean.

Is It Possible to Pressure Wash a Kayak?

As I mentioned earlier, pressure washing is possible in some kayaks. It does an excellent job of removing persistent dirt and mud from the boat’s surface. However, some kayaks may require special care while using a pressure washer.

When using a pressure washer on a wood kayak, the waterproof elements that safeguard the wood hull from water damage may be damaged. Thus, we don’t recommend pressure-washing wood kayaks.

If you happen to own a composite kayak, it can be pressure washed, as I have mentioned earlier. All you have to do is be extra careful and maintain a low pressure because the force of the water jet may cause damage to its material.

Using a pressure washer on a plastic kayak is safe because it uses polyethylene. These kinds of kayaks are durable, allowing you to use a pressure washer on the inside.

Wrapping Up

Learning how to clean a kayak is a valuable skill to have for all kayak owners. Cleaning your kayak is as important as paddling and maintaining it on the water.

Since you’ve already gone to the trouble and expense of purchasing a kayak, you should also go to the effort of cleaning it to ensure that it performs well and lasts a long time.

Follow the steps I mentioned above for A+ kayak maintenance. But, before we end, you may check the list of kayak learning articles and product guides that you might be interested to bookmark to save for later reading. Until our next kayak article!

(1) cleaning process –
(2) pressure –

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About Julian Thompson

cb787c59d2808e1f609076e790ca977e?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Kayaking Instructor (AKA)
Education: American Kayak Association
Lives In: Denver Colorado

I am a kayaking expert/instructor who has been fishing for over 15 years. Fishing is my passion, but kayaking keeps me on the water. I love to share my knowledge of techniques and tips with others. I live in Colorado with my wife and two kids and own a small kayak rental business On Grand Lake where I rent and instruct.