How to Clean Aluminum Boats

by G.K. Bayne

Even though we might think of water as being a clean fluid, boats do get dirty; especially aluminum boats if they are not painted and left with their natural aluminum finish. Dirt, oxidation and clinging marine material create drag in the water that reduces the performance of your boat. Cleaning the surface is straightforward task if you are willing to use a little elbow grease.


Follow all manufacturer's safety recommendations on the box of TSP that you purchased from the hardware store. Place safety glasses over your eyes, rubber gloves on your hands and mix a solution of TSP to the manufacturer's guidelines for proper strength.


Wet down one section of the aluminum boat with the hose and clean water. The surface should be thoroughly wet before applying the solution of TSP. Use the sponge to generously apply the solution. Start at the top and work down the side of the boat. Scrub in horizontal strokes and proceed down the surface.


With the hose, rinse the washed area with plenty of water. Observe the areas that have become fully cleaned by the appearance of shiny metal. You do not have to dry your boat with any cloth, as the surface will naturally dry.


If you encounter difficult dried algae and lake scum stains, you may need to allow the TSP solution to sit for a few minutes. Never allow the solution to dry on the surface. If you encounter portions of the aluminum that are still stained, reapply the TSP solution with the sponge and use the green scrub pad with the same horizontal strokes.


  • close Use plenty of water when rinsing the TSP solution. Wash your boat only on a concrete or asphalt surface as TSP can kill vegetation. Follow all directions and safety precautions on the packaging.

Items you will need

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