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Beginner’s Guide to Waxing Your Boat & Protecting Your Investment

A man kneels on a boat deck to wax the boat's surface.

Maintaining your boat isn’t just about keeping it clean – it’s about preserving its integrity and ensuring it remains seaworthy for years to come. One essential aspect of boat maintenance that often gets overlooked is waxing. Waxing your boat not only enhances its appearance but also provides protection against the harsh marine environment. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of waxing your boat, including why it’s important, the products you’ll need, and the steps to achieve a professional finish.

Why Wax Your Boat?

Waxing your boat serves several critical purposes:

  • Protection from the Elements: The marine environment exposes your boat to UV rays, saltwater, pollutants, and harsh weather conditions. Wax acts as a protective barrier, shielding the gel coat from damage caused by oxidation, fading, and corrosion.
  • Enhanced Appearance: A well-waxed boat shines with a deep luster that not only looks impressive but also reflects your pride of ownership. Waxing removes oxidation and restores the glossy finish, making your boat stand out on the water.
  • Ease of Cleaning: A waxed surface repels dirt, grime, and salt deposits, making it easier to clean and maintain your boat between waxing sessions. It also prevents stains from penetrating the gel coat, ensuring a pristine appearance.

Products You’ll Need

Before you begin waxing your boat, gather the following supplies:

  • Marine Wax: Choose a high-quality marine-grade wax specifically formulated for fiberglass or gel coat surfaces. Look for products that offer UV protection and long-lasting durability.
  • Microfiber Applicator Pads: These soft, non-abrasive pads are ideal for applying wax evenly and avoiding swirl marks or scratches on the boat’s surface. We recommend these wax applicator pads from Captains Preferred Products.
  • Cleaner or Compound (Optional): If your boat has heavy oxidation or stubborn stains, you may need to use a cleaner or compound before waxing to restore the surface.
  • Polishing Machine (Optional): For larger boats or to expedite the waxing process, consider using a dual-action or rotary polishing machine with a soft foam pad attachment.
  • Clean Microfiber Towels: These are essential for buffing and removing excess wax residue to reveal a smooth, glossy finish.

How to Wax Your Boat in x Steps

Follow these steps to wax your boat effectively:

  1. Clean the Surface

Thoroughly wash your boat with a mild boat cleaner and water to remove dirt, salt, and debris. Rinse the surface and allow it to dry completely before proceeding.

  1. Inspect for Damage

Take this opportunity to inspect the boat’s surface for any signs of damage, such as cracks, chips, or gel coat blistering. Address any repairs before waxing.

  1. Apply Cleaner or Compound (If Needed)

If your boat has oxidation or stubborn stains, apply a cleaner or compound using a clean applicator pad. Work in small sections, following the product’s instructions, and then wipe away residue with a clean microfiber towel.

  1. Apply Wax

Shake the wax bottle well before use and apply a small amount of product onto a clean wax applicator pad. Spread the wax evenly onto the boat’s surface using circular motions, working in manageable sections.

  1. Let it Dry

Allow the wax to dry to a haze, typically for 5-10 minutes, depending on the product’s instructions and environmental conditions.

  1. Buff the Surface

Using a clean, dry microfiber towel, buff the waxed surface in circular motions, applying light pressure to remove the haze and reveal the glossy finish underneath. Repeat this process until the entire boat has been waxed.

  1. Inspect and Touch-Up

Once you’ve completed waxing your boat, inspect the surface for any missed spots or uneven application. Touch up any areas as needed for a consistent finish.

How Often Should You Wax Your Boat?

The frequency of waxing your boat depends on several factors, including environmental conditions, usage, and the type of wax used. As a general rule of thumb, most boat manufacturers recommend waxing your boat at least twice a year – once at the beginning of the boating season and again before winter storage. However, boats that are exposed to harsh conditions or frequent use may require more frequent waxing to maintain optimal protection and appearance.

Protect Your Boat with Regular Waxing

Waxing your boat isn’t just about aesthetics – it’s a crucial step in protecting your investment and ensuring its longevity on the water. By following these simple steps and using the right products, you can achieve a professional-grade finish that not only looks great but also provides durable protection against the elements. Make waxing a regular part of your boat maintenance routine, and you’ll enjoy years of smooth sailing ahead.


When it comes to keeping your boat clean, look to Captains Preferred Products boat cleaning supplies. Find everything you need to keep your vessel squeaky clean all season — always at the best prices.

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The Complete Guide to Using a Foam Cannon

How to use a foam cannon with a hose for car washing.

Foam cannons are invaluable tools for achieving a thorough and efficient wash on various surfaces, including cars, boats, and more. With their ability to produce thick, sudsy foam, foam cannons make the cleaning process easier and more effective. 

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using a foam cannon, including the steps to setting one up, how much soap to use, compatibility with garden hoses, filling instructions, and tips for maximizing foaminess.

Captains Preferred Products foam cannon for hose.
This foam cannon is designed for use with a standard garden hose.

How to Use a Foam Cannon

Foam cannons make distributing soap a breeze, and they are really fun to use! Let’s take a look at the basic steps to follow to use your foam cannon:

  1. Attach the foam cannon handle to your hose by screwing the end of the hose into the foam cannon nozzle.
  2. Fill the reservoir with water, leaving some space at the top for soap.
  3. Add the appropriate amount of car wash soap or boat cleaner to the reservoir.
  4. Adjust the foam cannon settings to achieve the desired foam thickness and spray pattern. There is usually a dial at the top of the foam cannon for this.
  5. Spray the foam onto the surface to be cleaned, starting from the top and working your way down.
  6. Allow the foam to sit for a few minutes to loosen dirt and grime.
  7. For sensitive surfaces like the body of your car, use a wet microfiber wash mitt to wipe the areas where you have applied soap. For tougher areas like tires, use a scrub brush to loosen dirt and grime.
  8. To rinse, unscrew the foam cannon reservoir section from the hose nozzle. Spray clean water over the entire surface from top to bottom. 
  9. Repeat the process if necessary for caked on dirt or heavily soiled areas.
  10. When finished with the foam cannon, disconnect it from your hose, and rinse it thoroughly with clean water.

Common Foam Cannon Questions

How Much Soap to Use in a Foam Cannon?

Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on the amount of soap to use. This could vary from model to model. As a general guideline, start with 1-2 ounces of car wash soap per gallon of water in the reservoir. Adjust the soap concentration as needed to achieve the desired level of foaminess.

Can You Use a Foam Cannon with a Garden Hose?

Yes, some models (like this foam cannon) are made to be used with garden hoses. These foam cannons are easy to use and hook up to a standard hose you might have at your home or dock. 

How Do You Fill a Foam Cannon?

To fill a foam cannon:

  1. Remove the reservoir (the tank part) from the foam cannon body.
  2. Fill the reservoir with water, leaving some space at the top for soap.
  3. Add the desired amount of car wash soap or boat cleaner to the reservoir.
  4. Reattach the reservoir to the foam cannon body by screwing the top back on. Make sure it’s attached securely. 
Finger pointing to a foam cannon's sud dial to make more foam.
The sud dial at the top of the foam cannon controls the amount of soap used and can be used to produce more foam.

How Do You Make a Foam Cannon More Foamy?

To maximize foaminess with a foam cannon:

  • Use a high-quality car wash or boat wash soap
  • Try adjusting the soap concentration in your foam cannon
  • Use the foam setting dial at the top of the foam cannon to adjust for more or less foam

Get Washing Today

By following these steps and tips, you can make the most of your foam cannon and achieve professional-quality results when cleaning your car, truck, boat, and more. Happy foaming!


When it comes to keeping your boat clean, look to Captains Preferred Products boat cleaning supplies. Find everything you need to keep your vessel squeaky clean all season — always at the best prices.

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Deck Scrub Brush vs. Microfiber Wash Mitt — Which Should I Use?

A blue deck brush sits bristles up on a dock with a boat in the background.

Take a good, long look at your boat and ask yourself: Is it as clean as it could be? Perhaps more importantly, is it as clean as it should be? Cleanliness is about more than mere cosmetics; keeping your boat clean will prolong the life of your vessel.

From the wood of your deck to the fiberglass of your hull to the upholstery of your seats, boats can harbor dirt, grime, mold, mildew, and even invasive species if they’re not well-kept. As such, it’s not enough to just tidy up a boat; it must be cleaned properly, and that’s why it’s important to have the right tools for the job.

As you gather these tools, one of the most fundamental decisions you’ll have to make is whether to use a scrub brush, a microfiber wash mitt, or even a combination of the two. Let’s compare them to see which you should use and when.

Deck Scrub Brushes

A brush on the end of a pole is a great way to scrub areas that are hard to reach, especially if that pole is extendable. 

Benefits: 

  1. Brushes are available in a variety of stiffnesses, from soft to hard, allowing boat owners to clean different parts of their boats without damaging them.
  2. Brushes are durable and can be thoroughly cleaned to avoid spreading contaminants and dirt.
  3. A single pole can accommodate many different brush types with varying levels of stiffness or size.
  4. With long bristles, brushes can swipe away dirt in even the tightest of spaces.

Disadvantages:

  1. If a user uses the wrong brush stiffness, it will either be ineffective at cleaning or damage the boat surface.
  2. Brushes can hold onto dirt and grime if not properly cleaned, which can either lead to poor cleaning or scratching of the boat’s finish.
  3. Brushes can’t easily wrap around cylindrical objects such as poles or pipes.
  4. Brushes aren’t absorbent in the ways that towels or mitts often are.

Takeaway:

One of the keys to getting great results with brushes is to match them to a given job. A soft brush is appropriate for a boat’s hull since it won’t scratch the hull’s coating or paint, while a hard-bristle brush is perfect for cleaning decks where the surface can handle deep scrubbing to eliminate ground-in dirt. In either case, brushes can last a long time and withstand frequent use, though regular cleaning of the bristles will be necessary to avoid spreading contaminants. 

Microfiber Wash Mitts

For a more hands-on approach, microfiber wash mitts fit over the hand and allow users a more tactile cleaning experience.

Benefits:

  1. When the boat cleaning is done, simply toss the mitt in with your next load of laundry to clean it.
  2. Wash mitts are gentle on finishes and won’t leave streaks or swirl marks.
  3. Users won’t need to keep returning to their wash buckets; mitts are incredibly absorbent and hold a lot of soap and water at once.

Disadvantages:

  1. Once a microfiber mitt gets leaves or pebbles tangled in it, it can be nearly impossible to get clean again and will likely need to be thrown away.
  2. Wash mitts aren’t nearly as durable as brushes. Even with proper care and washing, the fibers can loosen and fray; additionally, the mitt will slowly absorb dirt and become less able to clean surfaces.
  3. The user’s reach is limited to the length of their arm.
  4. A mitt’s fibers can’t get into as many tight crevices as a brush.
  5. Wash mitts are soft, meaning they’re not as good for deep cleaning of decks as hard-bristle brushes.

Takeaway:

Wash mitts require more care than brushes. If you drop a wash mitt onto a leaf-covered, dirty driveway before making it to your boat, it can become immediately unusable because it will pick up every bit of detritus it touches. Users must also be careful to continually rinse their mitts to ensure they’re not spreading dirt and grime around the surface of their boat. We recommend the use of a dirt trap in your bucket to keep your wash mitts cleaner for longer. 

Nevertheless, for cleaning jobs that require a soft touch, a microfiber wash mitt is an excellent tool, especially if the goal is to achieve a mirror-like shine on a boat’s finish.

Which Boat Cleaning Tool is Right for You?

The answer is likely both! A brush can scrub a thick layer of mud and algae from the hull of a boat, and with a long pole, you can make large sweeps to remove large amounts of grime at once. Follow that up with a wash mitt, and you can transform the hull into a sparkling clean, wave-slicing machine.

With the right cleaning products and care for your cleaning tools, you can combine the benefits of both brushes and mitts and avoid the disadvantages entirely. Just remember, clean boats are healthy boats, which means the better you clean, the more you’ll stop the spread of invasive species that can aggravate allergies and make people sick!


When it comes to keeping your boat clean, look to Captains Preferred Products boat cleaning supplies. Find everything you need to keep your vessel squeaky clean all season — always at the best prices.

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How & Why You Should Use a Dirt Trap in Your Bucket

Bucket With Cleaning Supplies

In your boat, exactly how would you use a dirt catcher — and why? This tool is a plastic trap that you can insert into your clean-up bucket to hold your boat cleaning or maintenance tools. The grate in the trap allows dirt to fall to the bottom of the bucket while keeping your tools from sitting in the dirt.

This makes it easier to wash your boat safely and clean your tools after you’re finished working with them. Here’s a detailed look at how and why you should use a bucket dirt trap in your vessel.

Blue bucket dirt trap for a 5 gallon bucket.

What Does a Bucket Dirt Trap Do?

When you wash your boat, you’ll want to avoid scratching the surface to keep it looking new and attractive. However, one of the most common causes of scratching on your boat’s surface is the dirt and grime that gets trapped in your cleaning equipment.

Sponges and brushes will collect debris as you start using these tools to wash your boat. If you store all of your equipment in your bucket, that debris will cling to your tools. As you rinse your equipment over a dirt catcher, however, the debris will get flushed through the grate.

The dirt catcher lets you keep your sponges, brushes, and other equipment separate from the grime that you remove from your boat’s surface. Your cleaning equipment will stay cleaner and softer, so you can continue washing your boat without damaging it.

How a bucket dirt trap works with diagram - water above the dirt trap stays clean.

This dirt trap by Captains Preferred Products is sturdy and made for any 5-gallon bucket.

The Benefits of Using a Bucket Dirt Trap

There are several benefits of using a dirt trap that make it a useful tool in washing or maintaining your boat. Essentially, this tool offers an easy and effective way to help you keep your equipment and tools cleaner as you service your vessel.

Durability

All dirt traps consist of thick, sturdy plastic to support the weight of your equipment. In addition to supporting that weight during each use, the dirt catcher will last longer. You’ll be able to use the same dirt catcher for many years before you’ll need to replace it.

Ease of Use

Anyone can easily use a dirt trap. Dirt catchers have finger holes that make the devices easy to grasp and hold, so installing or removing the item is simple. In addition, you won’t need much strength to pull the dirt catcher out of the bucket.

Versatility

You can use a dirt trap in any standard five-gallon bucket. You’ll be able to use the same dirt catcher in multiple buckets, or you can buy several dirt catchers to use in a few different five-gallon buckets. If you have a large array of equipment and tools, it may make sense to use more than one bucket, each with its own dirt catcher.

Using a Dirt Trap

Using a dirt trap is fairly straightforward. The bottom of the plastic grate has fins that prevent it from sitting flush on the bottom of the bucket.

This makes it easy to set the guard in the bucket while leaving a gap for dirt, debris, and sediment. As you rinse off your equipment and tools, the dirty water and debris get flushed through the grate and settle on the bottom of the bucket.

After you’re finished using the dirt catcher and you have cleaned your equipment for the last time, remove the dirt catcher and rinse it with a hose. Make sure to rinse all of the dirt and debris from both sides of the unit. Let the dirt catcher air dry completely before storing it.

Commonly Asked Questions

Here are a few answers to common questions about the use of a dirt trap.

How Many Dirt Traps Are Necessary?

The best practice is to have two buckets and to install a dirt trap in each bucket. Use one bucket strictly for washing your equipment, and use the second bucket for rinsing. This ensures you’ll thoroughly remove dirt from your equipment and keep your tools clean.

Why Do Dirt Traps Come in Different Colors?

Different colored dirt catchers allow you to separate your wash and rinse buckets. Your black dirt catcher will tell you that you’re using that bucket for washing your tools. Similarly, you’ll know that you’re using the blue dirt catcher for rinsing.

Why Not Make a Homemade Dirt Trap?

While you can build your own dirt catcher, you’ll probably spend more on the materials to build it than it would cost to buy a premade version. Additionally, your homemade dirt catcher may not be as effective or durable.

Don’t Service Your Boat Without a Dirt Trap

Once you’re familiar with the purpose of a bucket dirt trap, it’s easier to understand the advantages of having one. Overall, investing in this simple yet useful product will help you protect the beauty of your boat for years to come.


When it comes to keeping your boat clean, look to Captains Preferred Products boat cleaning supplies. Find everything you need to keep your vessel squeaky clean all season — always at the best prices.

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Can I Use a Brush on Boat Seats?

Boat Seats

Buying a boat is a significant investment. Maintenance, accessories, and fuel drive up costs even higher. But the costliest expense of all is failing to maintain the boat properly, including the simple act of cleaning. Regular boat cleaning is essential, but only with the correct tools and processes. Yes, brushes are one of those tools, even for seat upholstery, as long as owners use brushes designed for that purpose.

Why Is Cleaning Seats Important?

While the hull may get the lion’s share of attention thanks to the threat of spreading invasive species, a boat’s interior is just as important. Faded vinyl covered in mold isn’t just unsightly — it can stain clothing and towels, cause health problems, and drive down the value of a boat. While modern boat vinyl does have anti-mold and mildew properties, these properties degrade when not cleaned properly.

The Best Types of Brushes for Seats

Boat seat upholstery has different requirements from the rest of the boat. Here are the properties you want when selecting your brush:

Soft Stiffness

While the hull will require stiff-bristled brushes, these brushes will damage seat upholstery. For seats, owners should stick with soft-bristle brushes. They won’t cause deep scratches or tears in vinyl but will require longer scrubbing sessions to remove dirt.

High-Quality, Dense Bristles

Generally, the bristles are plastic, often a form of polystyrene, nylon, or rubber-infused material. You’ll want a material that is soft yet able to withstand lots of scrubbing without degrading.

Wooden Head

Brush heads are usually wood or plastic, but wood is more durable.

Telescoping, Rust-Resistant Metal Handle

You’ll need a telescoping handle so you can change the length based on your needs. Also, it should be made of a hardy, rust-resistant metal such as aluminum or stainless steel.

Cleaners

A quality wash and wax soap will simultaneously remove dirt, debris, and other contaminants from seats while also adding a protective wax layer. However, boat owners must take care to use soaps and cleaners that are safe for use on vinyl. Also, ensure that the cleaner you use features UV protection. Your boat seats will sit in sunlight for much of the year, and UV damage will cause unprotected seats to fade.

Cleaners that use harsh chemicals can not only harm seat upholstery but can damage brushes as well. You also must consider that you and other passengers will have to sit on the recently-cleaned seats, and detergents with toxic materials can stain clothing and even harm the skin. The cleaner you select should ideally be biodegradable and non-toxic to protect occupants, the boat, and the environment.

Boat Seat Cleaning: Best Practices

Here are the steps for maintaining fresh, new-looking seats:

1. Sweep Away Dirt and Debris

With a soft brush, remove loose dirt or debris on the seats.

2. Wipe Down the Seats With Distilled Water

Distilled water will not introduce any contaminants. Use a soft cloth or rag to gently wipe the water on the seats, then use a different cloth or rag to dry them.

3. Mix Your Cleaner

Read the instructions on your cleaning solution and prepare a mixture in a bucket. You may be able to use tap water rather than distilled water, but again, check the instructions.

3. Softly Scrub

Using your soft brush, gently clean the seats. If you have removable cushions, take them off the seats and clean them all over.

4. Wipe, Rinse, Dry

Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned every upholstered surface, get a fresh, soft cloth or rag and wipe the surfaces down. Then, rinse and dry with a new cloth.

Improper Cleaning

Cleaning your seats with the wrong tools or cleaners will result in damage. This is why you should avoid using:

●     Power Washers: The pressure can cause vinyl to rip

●     Harsh Cleaners: Bleach, Goo Gone, and other harsh chemicals remove protective coatings

When in doubt, read the instructions and obey warnings. If the cleaner label claims it will harm vinyl, don’t use it!

Preventing Damage Long-Term

To ensure your seats last from season to season, clean them every month. You can clean them more often if you notice buildups of grime or mold. Also, you can enact these preventive measures:

●     Don’t spill food, drinks, or sunscreen on the seats

●     Wipe the seats after all boating sessions

●     Use covers when the boat is not in use

●     Never cover the seats if the interior is wet, as this can lead to mold growth

With some simple care, your seats can stay pristine.

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When’s The Best Time for Cleaning Your Boat

Cleaning Your Boat

Cleaning your boat is an essential part of boat maintenance. Regular cleaning helps keep it in excellent condition and prolongs its lifespan. Knowing when’s the best time to clean your boat can be a challenge and varies based on usage and the environment. Captains Preferred Products will provide the best times based on those factors.

Our Recommended Cleaning Based on Water

If your boat is in saltwater, it is essential to clean it more frequently to prevent damage to the hull, propeller, and other parts. You should aim to clean the whole boat after each use, as the salt can quickly cause damage if left sitting. Saltwater can cause corrosion to the boat’s metal components over time. To avoid this, we recommend flushing the engine after each run. Most newer boats include a connection for flushing the waterways. We also recommend rinsing down the hull with soap after each use.

If your boat is in freshwater, the need to rinse down is less important, though still recommended after each use. With freshwater, we recommend a more thorough cleaning once a month, or every 3rd – 4th use, depending on how often you use it.

Time of Year Look

It’s important to consider the time of year when cleaning your boat as it will affect the cleaning interval.

Spring / First Run of the Season

Spring is an excellent time to clean your boat, especially if it has been stored away for the winter. During the winter, the boat may have accumulated a lot of dirt, grime, and other debris, which can be challenging to remove. This accumulation depends on what type of storage is used. If kept anywhere aside from indoor storage, such as on a lift, trailer, or in the water, you should plan to give your boat a thorough clean at least a couple of times a month.

Cleaning your boat in the spring is typically associated with a first season start-up, which may involve dirt and grime on the deck and haul.

Summer / Mid-Season

Summer is also an excellent time to clean your boat. This is another season when your boat is likely to accumulate dirt, grime, and debris as you use it frequently. At a minimum, giving it a deep cleaning in summer will make sure it maintains those new boat qualities.

Fall

For certain regions, fall means the boating season is coming to an end. In places like Canada and the Midwest, boats are typically deep cleaned 1 final time before being put away for the season. This is a great time as well to identify any damage or repair maintenance that needs to be addressed before the next boating season.

Winter

Winter is typically when the majority of boats are stored, and are generally not deep cleaned unless maintenance or repairs are needed, which would also lend itself towards cleaning.

With that said, in southern regions like Florida, boats are used year-round. In that case, winter in Florida falls back to our regularly recommended cleaning intervals based on use.

The Use of Proper Cleaning Products

Using the right cleaning products is essential in maintaining your boat. Using the wrong products can damage the boat’s surface and cause more harm than good. It’s necessary to use products that are specifically designed for boats and the marine environment. When choosing cleaning product(s), make sure they are safe for the type of material your boat is made of (fiberglass, aluminum, wood, etc.), and don’t overlook the material of things like your seats, deck accessories, etc.

Captains Preferred Products carries different products based on what you’ll be cleaning. You want to make sure the cleaning product is specific to what is being cleaned. For example, there are cleaners specific to boat bilge systems and cleaners specific to seat materials. Those are not interchangeable.

Keeping Your Boat in Pristine Condition

The best time for cleaning your boat depends on several factors. These include the type of water your boat is in, the time of year, and how frequently you use it.

Cleaning your boat based on those factors is essential to keep it in good condition and prolong its lifespan. Regular cleaning of your boat will also help you identify any damage and repair maintenance that may be needed. This will allow you the ability to use your boat during the best boating season.