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Wondering How to Clean A Kayak


Regardless of their efficient built structure and minimal maintenance requirements, kayaks need some essential maintenance and cleaning to protect against wear and tear. Learn how to clean kayaks and extend their life. And if you’re wondering how to clean a kayak, well, you’re at the right place.

Every paddler’s dream is to invest in a kayak that is durable enough and shows no signs of depreciation, even after years of use. However, in a realistic world, regardless of how durable your kayak is, a well-used kayak takes a lot of abuse and eventually develops a scratch or two over time.

Performing proper kayak maintenance and cleaning helps to protect it against sun exposure and other elements. Although cleaning a kayak is a straightforward process, none of us is too enthused to clean our beloved kayak after spending a long, hot day gliding through water.

Over time, environmental fluctuations can cause severe damage to your kayak. But all is not lost. With basic maintenance and cleaning, you can help extend the life of your kayak and keep it looking its best.

Below, I have gathered some tips and tricks regarding cleaning and kayak and maintaining it for the long run.


Kayak. A bright orange kayak at the beach royalty free stock image


Why Is Kayak Maintenance So Important?


Kayaking is a popular water sport. It offers a wide range of uses, activities, and easy access to water. If you’ve ever gone through the kayak purchasing process, you realized that there are vessels designed for beginners, anglers, or for those who simply want to paddle on a lake.

The versatility offered by kayaks makes them a perfect choice for almost everyone. However, considering the efforts and expense of buying a kayak, you may want to protect your investment, extend its lifespan, and improve its performance by adequately maintaining your kayak. Keeping your kayak clean will not only help prolong its life but will also ensure your safety when exploring on the water.



General Kayak Cleaning Tips?


Before I discuss how to clean kayaks, let’s take a look at the typical kayak washing process:

  • Firstly, take down the clinging debris by washing down your kayak with a hose.
  • Get a bucket of water and mix some soap in it.
  • With the help of soapy water and a sponge, scrub down your kayak.
  • Finally, rinse it and let it dry.
  • Use a stain remover to take down any stubborn stains, bird dropping, etc.
  • Once your kayak dries completely, evenly apply wax and finish it off with a polish.



How to Clean Kayaks?


Before you start cleaning your kayak, make sure that you have the following supplies with you.


Supplies You Will Need


  • Water/hose.
  • Terry and microfiber for waxing.
  • Latex gloves.
  • Washing soap.
  • Cleaner wax (if required)



Steps to Clean A Kayak

Man hand diligently wipes the kayak from water drops after a walk, on the lawn against the background of other boats. Man hand diligently wipes the kayak from royalty free stock photo


  1. Use your garden hose to give your kayak a thorough rinse. It will loosen and rinse off any dirt.
  2. Now, take your water bucket and boat wash or soap. Use clean water to fill the bucket and add some soap to it. When using a boat wash, make sure to follow the guidelines on the bottle.
  3. The next step is to soak your sponge in soapy water and wash your kayak. Make sure to wash both of the sides. If you find any stubborn stains, you might need to wash them a couple of times.
  4. Once you are finished washing the hull with soapy water, use clean water to rinse it off. Use a dry towel to dry it or let it air dry.
  5. Now it’s time to wax your kayak. Use one of your microfiber cloths to apply the wax. However, if it is a spray, spray it on the hull and gently rub it on with the cloth. It is always a good practice to rub it with a damp cloth.
  6. Once you are finished applying the wax, let it air dry.
  7. After the wax dries completely, take your dry microfiber cloth and polish the hull.
  8. Now, give your kayak an extra layer of protection by spraying it down with a UV protectant.
  9. After finishing the spray on your kayak, use a clean, dry cloth and buff it over your kayak.



Benefits of Waxing your Kayak


It is an excellent way to use wax on a composite kayak. It provides that extra layer of protection to the hull of your kayak. Some other benefits of using wax on your kayak include:

  • It improves the hull’s durability and extends its lifespan.
  • Waxing also protects your kayak from harmful Ultraviolet rays.
  • Serving as a protectant, protect the hull from scratches and dents.
  • It also improves the color and shine of the hull, especially if you have a painted kayak.

Besides these benefits, waxing also helps increase the speed. As a performance booster, waxing keeps the hull surface smooth, helping your kayak glide through water efficiently.


how to clean a kayak



Pre-Season Kayak Cleaning and Maintenance


Pulling your kayak out of storage when ready for your first spring paddle and figuring something was damaged during the last storage is the worst nightmare for a paddler. So, here are a few kayak inspection tips:


·         Inspect the Hull

Storing your kayak for extended periods can cause hull damage. If the hull of your kayak is depressed, you can use heat to return the hull to its original shape. You can leave your kayak for a day in the sun. It will help pop the hull back to its original shape.


·         Inspect Hardware and Bungees

When taking your kayak out after an extended period of storage, ensure that its hardware, bungees, and perimeter lines are fine. It is because Ultraviolet radiation can degrade bungees and deteriorate plastic pad-eyes. Check the rudder to evaluate stainless steel cables, deployment lines, and pedals.


·         Inspect Old Parts and Accessories

The perfect moment to get rid of old parts and accessories is when you take your kayak out of storage. Thoroughly look at all of your gear and think about what was bothering you during your last adventure. If anything needs replacement, this is the time to retire old equipment.


In-Season Kayak Maintenance


When the paddling season is on the peak, remember to consider these points:


·         Get a Cart for Your Kayak

Dragging your kayak on the surface will damage and weaken the bottom of your kayak. Eventually, it will lead to holes that will cost you a significant amount to repair by a professional. In this regard, having a kayak cart is excellent as it will keep your kayak safe and make getting the kayak to and from the water easy.


·         Keep Your Kayak Clean

You don’t necessarily need to keep your kayak look shiny and new. However, it is a good practice to spray your kayak after every trip. It will help remove any grime and salt that can prevent corrosion and mold.


·         Protect from the Sun

Exposing your kayak to the sun for long periods can cause cracks, fade colour, and weaken the plastic. Leaving your kayak outdoors for a few days is fine, but you should avoid leaving it there for months as it can cause deterioration. You can protect your kayak from UV rays by using a protective spray.


·         Cover Your Kayak

Investing in a kayak cover is wise as it will protect your kayak from the sun and other elements. Moreover, it will also help keep your kayak clean and dry from the inside. You can also find cockpit covers on the market to protect the interior of your kayak.



What to Avoid When Storing Your Kayak

After cleaning your kayak, when storing for the next season, make sure to follow these kayak storage guidelines:

  • Do not leave your kayak in the sun exposure for extended periods. Kayaks are more susceptible to sun damage if exposed for too long.
  • When transporting, be very careful and do not leave your kayak on your vehicle’s rooftop or trailer for more extended periods.
  • If you don’t have space indoors to store your kayak, make sure to keep your kayak away from direct sunlight. Also, try to find a weather-controlled spot. However, if a controlled environment is absent, make sure to store your kayak on its side or upside down.
  • Consider the temperature of the place you are storing your kayak. Ensure that temperature doesn’t drop below freezing or jump higher than 100 F.



That is all about how to clean kayaks. Whether you want to improve your kayak’s appearance or just want to add that extra layer of protection, cleaning your kayak is essential. Although a kayak doesn’t need much maintenance, occasional maintenance and cleaning can extend its lifespan and improve its efficiency. Moreover, although plastic-hulled kayaks don’t necessarily need waxing, cleaning and UV protectant spray is still recommended.


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Kayak on lake in Canada. Kayak on lake with mountain range in background, Canada stock photography

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