Read our boat canvas cleaning guide and give your boat a quick and cost-effective makeover


Taking care of your boat’s canvas cover is an essential part of boat cleaning, especially if it’s been left on your boat all winter.

Over time you’ll notice that the appearance of your boat’s canvas cover can deteriorate due to algae spores, UV rays, bird droppings and wind-borne pollution. It might be tempting to buy yourself a new canvas cover but our cleaning guide will have your cover looking brand new in no time.

Products you will need: Boat canvas cleaner, Vinyl Window Restorer, Boat canvas restorer, Ultra proofer, Zip and popper lubricant.

Cleaning equipment: Spray bottle, paint brush, soft bristle brush, gloves, container such as a paint tray.

Looking to clean canvas seats? Check out our guide to the best boat seat cleaners.

Cleaning your boat’s canvas cover

A dirty job like this might have you reaching for the pressure washer but the powerful jet can damage the threads of the canvas. It’s also sometimes a good idea to test the products on a discrete patch of the canvas to make sure there’s no discolouration.

1) Start by scraping off loose dirt and gently remove any bird guano with a normal household sweeping brush.

2) Once this is done, dampen the seams down with fresh water in order to help the cleaner to penetrate the fabric better – you might find it easier to use a spray bottle for this.

3) Apply neat canvas cleaner to your cover with a paintbrush before using a bristle brush to scrub the cover all over. We like the Renovo Boat Canvas Cleaner (£13.25 for 500ml), or the Sail and canvas Cleaner from Starbrite but make sure you choose the right product
for your cover material.

4) Ensure that you really work the cleaner into the cover to help get the best results from the product. It’s important to pay special attention to the seams on your boat’s canvas as this is where a lot of dirt and grime can build up.

5) Leave the canvas for an hour before returning to scrub the canvas with a soft bristle brush and warm water, then rinse thoroughly. If your canvas is particularly dirty then you may wish to leave the cover for longer in order to remove any stubborn stains or algae that have worked their way into the fabric.

6) It might be necessary to repeat this process a few more times if you’re still struggling to remove some of the stains.

Cleaning canvas windows

The vinyl windows are often the first thing to go in your canvas cover but they can be rejuvenated
with the right products. We recommend the 3-step BoatSheen Vinyl Window Restorer (£24).

1) Clean the windows with a sponge and warm water to remove salt and grime.

2) Use a microbuffer product to remove minor scratches. Apply sparingly with a clean, soft cloth and allow to dry. Remove with a cloth working in small circles and then do the other side of the window in the same way.

3) Next use microcleaner will help restore you window’s transparency.

4) To help protect your boat’s canvas cover windows from UV rays use a microglaze and then finish off with a plastic window polish.

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Restoring your boat canvas’ colour

Overtime, your boat canvas can begin to fade and lose its colour. Thanks to a selection of canvas
restorers, such problems are a thing of the past. The pigment in the product acts as a dye to refresh the colour of your canvas, helping it to appear as good as new.

1) Start off by pouring some of the canvas pigment into a container and giving it a good stir.

2) Next, apply the product onto your canvas using a clean paintbrush. Make sure you cover the
whole thing in one application to avoid leaving a tidemark.

3) The colour won’t soak through, so make sure you paint both sides of the canvas, especially if the inside is starting to look a bit faded. Be aware that the pigment can make the canvas a little stiffer.

Boat canvas reproofing

The final stage to give your boat’s canvas a facelift is reproofing to stop any new stains such as guano absorbing into the fabric. There are a number of good reproofers to choose from, such as Scotchgard and Fabsil. Most of these products have been developed for the outdoor camping and caravanning market but are fine to use on your boat’s canvas.

1) Allow the canvas is thoroughly dry, apply a waterproofing agent to the canvas and its seams using a paintbrush.

2) Be sure to use the product liberally and keep your canvas taut as you work. It’s also advisable to avoid sunlight while doing this job in order to stop the proofer drying too quickly.

3) Once you’ve covered your canvas in proofer, hang it out to dry for a few hours. The final job is lubricating any zips and poppers as this will help to prolong the covers lifespan.