How to Clean a Pontoon Boat In The Water (Quick & Easy)

It is a huge hassle to take a pontoon boat out of the water to clean it. You can only clean some of the parts of pontoon boats when they are out of the water. However, you can clean pontoon boats in the water if you are careful.

Dilute 1 part mild dish soap with 5 parts water, soak a rag, and carefully scrub the panels on your pontoon boat while it’s in the water. Wait for the exterior to dry and coat it with marine wax so your pontoon appears slick. Get in the water and scrub the toons with a scouring pad to remove algae and marine buildup.

It’s easy to clean the interior of pontoon boats while they’re in the water. Never use harsh chemicals like acetone or bleach to clean the upholstery on pontoon boats. Follow along as we explore how to clean pontoon boats in the water.

Can You Clean Pontoon Boats in the Water?

You can clean pontoons in the water, but you will be limited in what you can do. For example, you cannot clean the toons themselves if your pontoon boat is in the water. That’s because they will be partially submerged, so there is no use in trying to clean them.

Most people clean the toons before loading them into the water or after they take them out. That said, you can clean the tops of the toons, the exterior panels, and the interior while your pontoon boat is in the water.

How to Clean Pontoons in the Water

Scrub the Panels

You can’t clean every part of a pontoon boat while it’s in the water, but you can at least scrub the panels. Pontoon boats typically feature aluminum panels, but some of them have fiberglass exteriors. Whether your pontoon boat features aluminum or fiberglass, you can easily clean the panels with soap and water.

Dilute some laundry detergent or mild dish soap in a bucket of water. The ideal ratio is 1 part soap and 5 parts water. Soak a washcloth, rag, sponge, or brush in the solution and carefully scrub the panels. Make sure to look out for streaks, bird droppings, and algae.

You must focus on those spots because they can each damage the paint, and it’s expensive to repaint pontoons. It can be difficult to clean pontoons in the water because you must typically stand in the interior, bend over, and scrub beneath you. Take your time and apply lots of pressure to remove stubborn stains and clumps of algae.

Wax the Exterior

Wax your pontoon boat’s exterior if it’s made of fiberglass. Sure, you should still scrub the exterior with mild soap and water, but it’s important to wax it as well. After you clean your pontoon boat in the water, you must wait for it to dry.

In some cases, you must wait until the next day to wax your pontoon if the exterior takes too long to dry. You only typically need to wax pontoon boats once per season, but you can do it more frequently if you want to maintain a slick look. Luckily, it’s easy to wax and clean pontoons in the water if they feature fiberglass exterior panels.

That’s because the panels sit above the water, so they don’t get nearly as dirty as aluminum panels. Make sure to buy marine wax that’s meant for fiberglass as marine wax doesn’t clump. Be patient as it takes lots of elbow grease and time to wax the fiberglass panels on pontoon boats, especially if your pontoon is big.

It’s easier to clean pontoons in the water if you wax them at least once per season because the surface will stay smooth. Smooth pontoons are easier to clean because the fiberglass is less likely to accumulate marine growth.

Get in the Water and Clean the Toons

There is no use in power washing the toons while pontoon boats are in the water. You can’t use cleaning chemicals as they can damage the ecosystem and fish in the water. If you want to thoroughly clean the toons while your pontoon boat is in the water, you must get in the water.

The best way to do this is to use rough scouring pads, such as Scotch-Brite pads. Put on a swimsuit, grab the scouring pads, and get in the water. Keep one hand on the dock or boat for support while you thoroughly scrub the toons with the scouring pad. Cleaning brushes work as well.

Don’t use any chemicals, and instead focus on using as much force as possible. The rough nature of the pads will help remove scum and grime that builds up when pontoon boats sit in the water. The process is time-consuming. However, it’s the best option if you can’t take your pontoon out of the water to power wash the toons.

Clean the Helm

The helm of your pontoon boat’s interior is likely dirty if you haven’t cleaned it in a while. This part of the boat often takes on water. It’s also vulnerable to bird droppings which can tarnish the paint.

Luckily, you can simply clean the helm with everyday household cleaners like Windex and Star Brite Aluminum Cleaner. Spray the helm and wipe it with paper towels or rags. Ideally, you should regularly clean the helm while your pontoon boat is in the water, so it doesn’t get overly dirty.

You can also dilute dish soap with water to clean the helm, but that may not work for tough stains and algae.

Wipe the Seats Down

Pontoons with dirty seats are as inviting as dinner tables covered with crumbs. The seats on pontoon boats can quickly become dirty, and they’re the easiest part to clean while the boat is in the water. Whether it be sweat, bird droppings, bug spray, or sunscreen, you can remove most stains with warm water and mild soap.

Avoid using harsh chemicals such as acetone, bleach, or ammonia to clean the seats as they can damage and stain them. Instead, simply use something like Dawn dish soap sparingly as it won’t leave behind a residue if you use enough water. Many people wipe the seats on their pontoons before or after each boating session, so they don’t get too dirty.

Vacuum the Floors

Whether the floor on your pontoon is made of aluminum, vinyl, or fiberglass, you must clean it regularly. The combination of moisture, heat, bugs, bird droppings, and foot traffic can quickly make the floors on your pontoon quite dirty. This can also cause mold and mildew to accumulate.

Sweep and vacuum the floors on your pontoon while it’s in the water weekly so the problem doesn’t get out of hand. Pontoon boats with vinyl weave carpets must be vacuumed. Otherwise, you can simply mop and sweep the floors if there are no carpet fibers.

Shop vacs are especially useful because of the strong suction. If you simply have vinyl or fiberglass floors, you can power wash them. However, you should only do this in extreme cases if there are severe stains and algae clumps as it can be difficult to get the water off your pontoon. That may be more trouble than it’s worth as it can create the perfect conditions for mildew.

So, What is the Best Way to Clean Pontoons in the Water?

The best way to clean pontoons in the water is to scrub the panels with diluted dish soap and water. You may need to get into the water to scrub the toons with a scouring pad if they are coated with clumps of algae. Carefully clean the seats and upholstery, but make sure you don’t use strong chemicals like bleach or ammonia because they can damage them.