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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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What Kind Boat Should I Buy? Exploring Your Options

A group of friends sits on the front of the boat while anchored in the water.

Buying a boat is similar to buying a car. Some people want convertibles, while others want pickup trucks or SUVs; the choice ultimately comes down to how the buyer will use their new ride and what they want to do once they get on the road.

The same principle applies to getting a new boat out on the water, so to figure out which one is the best for you, let’s look at some of the most popular styles on the market:

Bass Boats

Suppose that you are an angler who will be boating primarily in freshwater lakes, wetlands, rivers, and other such bodies of water. In general, the fish you’ll be catching are bass, so the name of your best choice is “bass boats.” They’re perfect for the environments where fishermen would find bass: They’re light, typically made of aluminum or fiberglass, and are purpose-built for fishing instead of lounging or cruising.

Important Features

  • Bass boats have swivel chairs to allow anglers to spin a full 360 degrees and cast in any direction. 
  • Live wells provide a place to keep live fish, and there’s a large amount of storage space for things like fishing rods, lures, and other necessary accessories. 
  • Two motors provide different power levels, with the outboard motor granting high-speed performance and the trolling motor offering quiet, slower movement to avoid scaring fish off. 

Bowriders

You might prefer a bowrider if you’re looking for comfort without stepping up to a lavish yacht. These are typically between 16 and 28 feet long and have open bows with a seating area, which means they’re wonderful in sunny, dry weather — but not so fun when the rain starts falling. 

Some bowriders have an enclosed head or even an entire cabin to shield the pilot and their occupants from the elements, but remember that the bow seats will still be exposed.

Important Features

  • Bowriders are well-sized and able to provide a luxurious experience without involving the costs of larger deck boats. 
  • Front and rear seating provide room for up to ten people, and storage compartments work to keep sensitive belongings dry. 
  • Bowriders have plenty of power for people who love water skiing or riding inner tubes, ensuring an exciting time.

Center Console Boats

These boats are larger than bass boats but still lack cabins. With that said, center console boats are primarily for saltwater fishing, and their designs allow anglers to easily walk around the entire perimeter of the boat with no obstructions. Like bass boats, center console boats are pragmatic fishing boats, and unless fishing is your goal, you won’t find them very luxurious.

Important Features

  • There’s plenty of storage space, often at the bow or under the seats, and these spaces can be for stowing rods, keeping live fish, or stowing personal belongings. 
  • The balance of center console boats is excellent, giving them solid, responsive handling.

Cruisers

For longer excursions, cruisers provide the creature comforts you want. You can think of cruisers as larger, more enclosed bowriders; you get an enclosed cabin, which features a home-like living space with a kitchen and dining area, bedrooms, and a full bathroom. While a large yacht might need a crew, cruisers often operate under a single pilot.

Important Features

  • Sizes for cruisers vary greatly, going from as small as 30 feet to reaching more than 100. 
  • Motors are typically inboard, which allows for a deck at the stern, and the motors have abundant power to achieve high cruising speeds. 
  • Cruiser hulls are also shaped to minimize the impact of waves to improve smooth movement through the water.

Pontoon Boats

Unlike most other boats, pontoon boats don’t have a traditional hull, but instead two or three pontoons underneath to create a large, rectangular space that can accommodate many passengers. Pontoon boats typically aren’t very fast, though many have enough power to accommodate water skiing or tubing. Additionally, most do not feature a head or enclosed cabin, as pontoon boats aren’t designed for all-day cruises.

Important Features

  • Thanks to their large, flat decks and excellent stability by way of the pontoons, these boats are perfect for parties. 
  • Many feature grills or stoves, fridges, wet bars, and a variety of comfortable seating arrangements. 

Yachts

We’ve made it to the ultimate in luxury. Yachts are typically 36 feet or longer (they can easily exceed 100 feet) and rely on heavy-duty diesel engines to carry them on long, multi-day excursions.

Important Features

  • With a yacht, there’s almost no limit. Expect extravagant living quarters with fine furnishings, dining areas, bathrooms, and even large-screen TVs, pool tables, swimming pools, and bowling alleys! 
  • For those with the money, the possibilities a yacht provides are only limited by the imagination.

Which Boat Is Right for You?

Consider your needs and your budget, as well as your ability to maintain your boat. Boats can be expensive to keep up, and you don’t want your investment to suffer due to negligence. Buy the right size and type for your lifestyle and make sure to keep it clean, and you’ll enjoy your time on the water in style!


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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Safety Tips for New Boaters

If you’re new to recreational boating, it might seem like there are a lot of rules and regulations — so many, in fact, that you might wonder how anyone has any fun on boats at all.

Thankfully, once you get the right safety equipment and turn certain duties into habits, boating safety becomes second nature. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.

Always Have Life Jackets on Board

Life jackets are more than just a wise precaution — they’re required by law. Regulations differ by state, but it’s generally safe to assume that you and your passengers need them.

You’ll need different size life jackets to accommodate people of all ages, from young children to adults. Check the size and weight ratings on your life jackets and make sure they’re matched to the wearer.

Contrary to what you may have heard, you should still wear a life jacket even if you’re a good swimmer. If you were to fall overboard, you could strike an object just below the surface. Should you be injured or knocked out, your lifejacket would buoy you so your head would be above water.

Avoid Alcohol

You aren’t allowed to drive drunk, and you aren’t allowed to boat drunk, either. In Florida, for example, anyone operating a boat must have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of less than 0.08. Violating laws governing BAC can bring fines and even jail time.

That said, those onboard who aren’t actively piloting the craft can drink. But just like a group of people enjoying a night bar hopping, it’s a good idea to have a designated driver.

Check the Weather

Weather patterns can change quickly. Unlike a car, you can’t just pull a boat over and wait out a storm. Turbulent waters can dump large quantities of water into the vessel, potentially sinking smaller craft.

With that in mind, always check the weather report to make sure you aren’t about to sail into a squall. Even just knowing the temperature can help ensure you don’t end up hours from shore in frigid conditions without appropriate clothing.

Be Familiar With Distress Signals (and Have the Equipment to Send Them)

If you get into trouble, how will you signal for help? Keep in mind that you may not be able to rely on your cell phone, whether due to a lack of signal or a dead battery.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, boaters need to have visual signals, such as high-visibility flags and flares. You must fly your flag at the highest point possible; as for the flares, red or orange is the best color for them, as they linger in the air longer.

What if you’re on the water at night and run into trouble? You’ll need electric signal lights that flash in the SOS pattern. This will also likely be where your flare gun comes in handy. Flares create a bright, burning trail that’s easy for onlookers to follow.

As for electronic distress tools, you’ll want to keep a Very High Frequency (VHF) marine radio on board. There are specific frequencies the Coast Guard monitors for distress calls, and these radios are much more reliable than cell phones or even CB radios.

You should also have an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), which sends out 406-MHz signals connected to GPS. These automatically send location information to bring rescuers right to you.

Stock Emergency Supplies

It’s imperative to have first aid kits on board to dress wounds. Whether someone accidentally catches a hook while fishing or slips and bumps their head, it’s important to be able to care for a range of injuries.

Additionally, keep flotation devices on board to toss to anyone who falls overboard and isn’t wearing a lifejacket for some reason.

Fire extinguishers are also a necessity. You never know when an overheating engine might catch fire or someone will get careless with a lit cigarette.

Take a Boating Safety Course

The National Association of Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) provides safety courses to educate boaters on the rules of boating, including how to look for and obey markers and buoys and stay compliant with local laws.

If you live in an area that requires a boating license, you’ll need to complete one of these courses to be able to operate a boat legally.

Enjoy the Ride

Boating safety is critical, but it doesn’t have to be a burden. Just make a list of essential supplies, set aside time to take a safety course, and watch the weather when you want to go out for a day on the water. And remember: safe boating is fun boating!

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Can Boat Covers Be Washed?

Let’s get this out of the way now: yes, you can wash a boat cover. However, as you can probably guess, the full answer is going to be more complicated than that. There are plenty of factors to consider, from washing techniques to environmental concerns to age to how well-made the boat cover is. Here’s what you need to know.

Use the Right Cleaning Supplies

First off, never use harsh chemicals or cleaners on your boat cover.

Industrial-strength cleaners might seem like a quick way to get rid of spots and stains, but they’ll also harm the fabric’s structural integrity. Instead, stick to mild soap and water, only getting specific cover cleaners if there are stubborn stains that won’t go away.

As for your other supplies, use soft-bristle brushes to avoid tearing or scuffing the cover. Abrasives can wear right through in surprisingly little time. If you have to focus on a specific spot, don’t put too much elbow grease into it — just scrub gently.

Also, remember to wear gloves. This isn’t so much to protect your boat cover but rather to protect your hands. That way, you can avoid dishpan hands if you need to spend extra time on a spot that refuses to get clean.

Rinse and Air-Dry

After you’re done washing the boat cover, rinse it off with the hose. You’re not just getting rid of all the scrubbed-off dirt and grime. You’re getting rid of soap residue, too. The point of a boat cover is to repel water and keep other substances from sticking. Soap residue will reduce the cover’s ability to do both of those things. 

When you’ve finished rinsing the cover, let it air-dry. You want to ensure that mold or mildew doesn’t form due to standing water or moisture. If you’re concerned it will rain, find a well-sheltered place to hang your cover. Once it’s dry, you can fold it and store it. Don’t fold it if there’s any moisture still on the surface!

It’s important to fold your boat cover properly — don’t ball it or scrunch it. Areas with creases will lose structural integrity over time, like folding a piece of paper in half over and over.

Don’t Be Afraid to Clean Twice

You might notice there are still areas of dirt, grime, or mold left after rinsing. If that’s the case, you’ll need to start the process over again.

You can apply a special boat cover cleaner and use a soft brush to work the solution into any remaining stains. If you notice there’s still dirt and grime in the cover’s seams, make sure you tackle them as well. Let the solution sit on the cover for about an hour to give it time to set in and loosen dirt and debris for easier cleaning.

If your boat cover has zippers, make it a point to clean them thoroughly. Even if they have the latest rustproofing technology, they can still be damaged by sea salt and other contaminants. Clean them with soap and water, and don’t forget to rinse them.

Store Your Cover Safely and Check Up on It Periodically

Once your cover is neatly folded, you can put it away. Store your cover in a temperature-controlled area. It should be cool and dry.

Don’t let the cover sit in direct sunlight or extreme temperatures, as these can fade and damage the cover. If you can store your cover in an area with good ventilation, it will keep condensation from accumulating and causing issues.

Take time every few days to examine the cover. If you see signs that it’s building up mold or getting damaged, remove it and address the problem immediately. Catching these issues early will ensure that your cover has a long lifespan. 

What Not to Do

Here are some things to avoid in order to keep your boat cover in good condition:

  • Never wash your boat cover in the washing machine
  • Don’t let environmental messes, such as bird droppings or tree sap, sit on your boat cover — clean them as soon as you notice them
  • Keep harmful substances like battery acid or gasoline away from your boat cover, and clean them off immediately if they make contact
  • Don’t let the cover bend at extreme angles; add foam padding to avoid creasing in areas with sharp bends, such as the corners of the windshield

Remember, the better you care for your boat cover, the longer it will last and the better it will do its job.

Give Your Boat Cover the Best

Cleaning and maintaining your boat cover may seem like a menial task, but it’s a critical one. With proper care and the right tools, like Captain’s Preferred Products’ chenille microfiber wash mitts and cleaners, you can keep your cover in top shape for years to come.

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Must-Have Boat Accessories in 2024

Unless you’re a winter boating fan, you’re probably itching for warmer temperatures and the chance to get your boat back out on the water. As long as you’re waiting, now’s the time to check out the boat accessories you need for 2024! 

Let’s examine the items you might need for the new year by asking some relevant questions:

What Supplies Are Required to Pass Safety Checks?

Unless you want a ticket, you must ensure your boat can pass a safety check. The U.S. Coast Guard’s Federal Requirements for Recreational Boats are the guidelines you need to follow, and complying requires the following supplies:

Personal Flotation Devices

Your flotation devices — life jackets, in other words — must be readily accessible at all times, which means you can’t have them stuffed away in a closet or other compartment behind a bunch of other equipment. 

You’ll need a Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device for every occupant on board and anyone on water skis, tubes, or anything else towed behind the boat. You also need to have at least one Type IV throwable life preserver.

If your boat is less than 16 feet long, you might be accustomed to the idea that you don’t need wearable life jackets, but these days, you can’t get away with just Type IV preservers anymore. You’ll have to have wearable jackets for yourself and your fellow boaters, even in a 15-footer.

Fire Extinguishers

You need to have a B-1 type fire extinguisher if you’re on a motorboat that measures 26 feet or longer. That said, if you don’t have paid passengers, fuel tanks, or a way for explosive gasses to build up aboard your vessel, you don’t have to have an extinguisher by law.

Distress Signals

You need visual signals, such as flares and lights, to be reached quickly in an emergency. If your boat is less than 39.4 feet long, you’ll need a whistle, horn, or other sound-producing device for similar reasons.

Ducts

You also need two ventilation ducts for the engine and fuel tank compartments and a backfire flame arrestor.

What Other Boat Items Should You Have?

The following items might not carry legal requirements, but it is still in your best interests to have them on board:

Navigation System

Modern GPS systems and fish finders have made navigation far easier than it was even less than twenty years ago. Get a navigation system with these features and weather alerts to keep you on the right track.

Solar Panels

Solar panels are excellent for keeping your boat’s battery charged, so you never have to worry about the engine cranking over. On top of that, you can charge your cell phone and run other accessories without wasting fuel or battery power.

Coolers

While chilled drinks are nice for a hot day on the water, cold food can be a matter of health safety! If you go out on the water for long stretches, you don’t want your food to spoil, so get a high-performance cooler. Such a cooler is also perfect for anglers to keep fish fresh until returning to shore. 

A Safety Kit

Beyond the legally required safety items, there are some other items you’ll want to keep you safe on the water. A general boat safety kit should include the following items:

  • VHF radio
  • Boating knife
  • Duct tape
  • Spare clothes
  • Towels
  • Sunscreen
  • Zip ties
  • Bug repellent
  • First aid kit
  • A paddle

You’ll also need a dry, safe place to store these items, so keep a watertight bin on board for your safety kit.

How to Determine Necessary vs. Fun Accessories

If an accessory doesn’t make your time on the water safer, it’s just for fun. Take the following items as examples:

Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers

Having some sailing tunes playing in the background is awesome, and having speakers that can get soaking wet and still work just fine is even more awesome. They may not be necessary for your safety or regulatory compliance, but they make time on the water more interesting!

A Grill

Unless you spend days or weeks at sea, you can wait until you get back to shore to cook up your latest catches, but if it’s within your budget, it’s certainly convenient and a lot of fun to cook fish right away on a boat. 

Graphics

Personalizing your boat with some custom graphics makes it more personal and will likely up its “cool” factor, but the thing is, depending on what kind of graphics you get, you might be devaluing your boat should you ever want to sell it. Also, if the customization is poorly done, it can do more harm to your boat than good.

Get Your Boat Cleaning Necessities at Captains Preferred Products

Even with all of the above accessories checked off the list, you need to keep your boat in excellent shape, and that’s where cleaning accessories come in! Captains Preferred Products carries top-quality brushes, mitts, and soaps that boaters worldwide trust to preserve their floating investments. Check out our selection today!

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How to Clean a Microfiber Wash Mitt — The Right Way

Your high-quality microfiber wash mitt isn’t a disposable, single-use item; proper care for it can make it last for multiple cleanings in a row, and the longer you use it, the farther you’ll stretch your dollars! That’s particularly important if you own a boat, as you know that it will soak up enough of your dollars as it is. 

Use Microfiber Cleaners and Soaps

Your first task is finding a cleaner that’s formulated for microfiber cloths and mitts. While regular detergent is perfect for cleaning clothes, it’s really only for cleaning away organic materials, such as food, sweat, grass stains, and some common substances like makeup or deodorant. Microfiber cleaners will wash away the inorganic waxes, such as the polishes, sealants, and other chemicals that are commonly used during boat washing

Steps for Cleaning Your Microfiber Wash Mitt

Here are some steps to take to keep your mitts in great shape for as long as possible:

Get Rid of Debris

Before you get to washing, ensure that you remove any leaves, small twigs, bug remnants, and other such detritus from your microfiber wash mitts. It can be incredibly difficult to detangle debris from a mitt’s fibers once you wash one with foreign objects already in it.

Debris can also end up on your other microfiber cloths as well, and once that happens, it’s no longer good for detail work. You run the risk of scratching in your finish with the embedded objects, so it’s best to just throw it out and get a new one.

Pre-Treat Any Stains

Apply a degreaser to any smudges or stains on your mitts and let them soak for a few hours before immediately washing them. Getting rid of these blots and smears is about more than just making your mitts look pretty; it’s about eliminating ground-in dirt from your mitts that can make its way onto your boat’s finish during a wash.

Only Wash the Mitts With Other Microfiber Towels

Don’t just toss your mitt into the laundry with your shirts and pants. Wash mitts pick up lots of particles and chemicals that may react with your regular clothes in ways you don’t like, so you’re better off washing all your boat and car-washing microfiber cloths together in their own load.

As for washing microfiber mitts with other types of towels, such as terry cloth, that’s a big “no” as well! Microfiber is designed to grab onto cotton fibers and lint, so washing and drying them together will just result in a lint-laden mitt!

Wash in Cold Water

Don’t subject your microfiber towels to high water temperatures, as they’ll melt beyond 140 degrees. In addition, it’s best to use a medium spin speed since high speeds can damage your towels. 

Wipe Out Your Washing Machine Afterward

As mentioned, microfiber towels used for cleaning boats and cars can gather some nasty chemicals, so if you use the same washing machine for your clothes and your towels or mitts, make sure you wipe out the machine’s drum afterward. Alternatively, you can purchase a separate machine just for washing your microfiber items.

Dry Your Mitts on Low Heat

If you have to dry your microfiber towels in the dryer, only do so on low heat, never use dryer sheets, and make sure there’s no leftover lint in the dryer by cleaning out the trap and wiping down the interior. 

The act of machine drying the towels won’t get rid of all the lint embedded in them, but you can hang your microfiber towels out to dry if you have a location where they won’t get exposed to dust, pollen, or other allergens.

Storing Your Dry Mitts

To ensure your mitts won’t pick up any foreign objects or be mixed in with regular towels, keep them in a plastic storage container. You can also go one step further and organize your microfiber mitts and towels by type. If you have some mitts reserved for cleaning the upholstery and others for the hull, for instance, you can have separate, labeled containers for them.

Start Cleaning With Quality Wash Mitts From Captains Preferred Products

Your cleaning efforts will only be as good as the mitts you use. Captains Preferred Products uses 70/30 microfiber blend chenille for scratch-free cleaning, and though it’s the perfect recipe for longevity, it’s still important to properly care for your mitts! After all, you’ve invested in a boat, so invest in the tools you use to keep it clean and in great shape, too!

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The Complete CPP Boat Safety/Equipment Checklist

In 2022 alone, there were over 2,000 boating accidents, including collisions with recreational vessels, collisions with fixed objects, and grounding.


While it can be easy to think that it will never happen to you, many factors are out of your control when you take your boat out on the water. Weather and the behavior of other boaters are just a few of the things you can’t control. But what you can do is ensure your boat is adequately equipped to maximize safety.


When it comes to boating, safety is not just a priority — it’s a necessity. A safe voyage begins with proper preparation. This comprehensive boat safety and equipment checklist is a great place to start.

Safety Requirements and Registration

Before embarking on your boating adventures, it’s critical to meet the legal safety requirements and ensure your vessel is registered. Registration laws vary by state and type of watercraft, so make sure to check with your state’s agency.


Typically, you’ll need to display your boat’s registration number on the hull and carry the registration certificate on board. Always check local regulations to stay compliant.


Also, keep in mind that there is some overlap in terms of boating safety requirements. While each state establishes laws regarding boat registration and operation, there is also a set of federal requirements for recreational boats. These regulations vary by boat size.

Mandatory Equipment Checklist

The following are essential pieces of equipment to have on your vessel.

Life Jackets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

According to the United States Coast Guard, there were 636 boating fatalities in 2022. In instances where the cause of death was known, three out of four victims drowned. Of these, 85% were not wearing a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD).

Fire Extinguishers

The USCG’s 2022 recreational boating statistics show that fire was the first event in over 230 accidents last year. It was also a secondary or tertiary event in dozens of other incidents. The bottom line is that boat fires are a major risk, which is why you need a fire extinguisher. In fact, they are required on boats with living spaces or enclosed fuel storage.

Visual Distress Signals (VDS)

Visual distress signals (VDSs) and other equipment designed to help others find you are vital in the event of an accident or breakdown.

Sound-Producing Devices

The USCG also requires whistles or horns, which you can use to signal others in periods of reduced visibility. While you don’t need anything fancy, you do need a device that is loud enough to be heard from hundreds of feet away.

Navigation Lights

Navigation lights are essential for boating between sunset and sunrise. Make sure you have functional lights before you hit the water.

Ventilation Systems

For boats built after 1980, a proper ventilation system for fuel tanks is required. These systems help reduce the risk of explosive fumes.

Marine Sanitation Devices

If your boat has installed toilet facilities, it must have a Coast Guard-certified marine sanitation device.
For a full breakdown of these regulations, check out BoatUS Foundation’s interactive equipment regulations page. The resource divides mandatory equipment regulations by boat size so you can find out exactly what you need on your vessel.

Optional Equipment Checklist

Here are some additional items that are helpful but not required:

● First aid kit
● Tool kit and spare parts
● Anchor and line
● VHF radio
● GPS and chart plotters
● Emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or personal locator beacon (PLB)

These items will ensure you are prepared for a wider array of emergencies and boating-related incidents.

Safety Precautions

Being properly equipped is a great start. But you also need to adopt a safety-minded mindset. Here are some pre-trip and on-water precautions to help you do just that.

Pre-Trip

Before departing, make sure that you:

● Inspect your trailer, lights, and tires/wheels
● Inspect your boat
● Verify that all gauges work
● Check fuel levels
● Review your equipment checklist
● Replenish any supplies you used last time

This is not a comprehensive list. You should incorporate other preparatory steps unique to your equipment setup, such as charging any navigation systems, etc.

On Water

When getting out on the water, you need to:

● Check the weather
● Let someone know about your destination and expected return time
● Avoid alcohol consumption
● Understand and respect water currents
● Ensure children wear life jackets at all times

Doing your prep work will set the stage for a fun (and safe) outing on the water. Always be diligent when it comes to safety, and never skip items on your checklist, even if you just performed them the day before.

Charting a Course for Safe Voyages

Boating is an enjoyable and rewarding experience, but it comes with a responsibility to prioritize your safety and the safety of those on your vessel. By following this comprehensive safety and equipment checklist, you ensure compliance and peace of mind.

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Chenille vs. Microfiber Wash Mitt — Any Difference?

Cleanliness is about more than just appearance. A clean boat is a healthy boat. Every time you take your boat on the water, it picks up salt, marine life, organic and inorganic contaminants, and a variety of substances you don’t want sticking to your hull. That’s why boats should be on a regular cleaning schedule, with anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks between cleanings.

If you’re a boat owner, you no doubt want to keep your investment in great shape, and you may already perform deep cleans as part of your regular maintenance. If that’s the case, excellent. But let’s also consider the tools and supplies that are best for boat cleaning to ensure you’re protecting your hull with the right gear. For example, what kind of wash mitt do you use?

Chenille Wash Mitt vs. Microfiber Wash Mitt

The kind of mitt you use makes a difference for both the aesthetic value and the cleanliness of your boat’s exterior. There are a variety of options to choose from when selecting wash mitt material, but let’s narrow it down to two: Chenille and microfiber.

What Is a Wash Mitt?

Before discussing the difference between chenille and microfiber, let’s go over wash mitts. These mitts are worn over the hand and feature an elastic cuff to hold them in place.
Mitts are popular for methodical cleaners because you can’t accidentally drop the mitt when scrubbing. And if the cleaner is wearing any jewelry, such as a ring, there’s no chance it will come into contact with the hull.

What Is Chenille?

Chenille is actually made from microfiber, but it has a completely different texture than products that use the term “microfiber.” This type of mitt uses long strands of twisted microfiber material, which are excellent at holding lots of water and soap. Chenille mitts are gentle on finishes, making them a common choice for boat maintenance, car detailing, and general cleaning.

What Is Microfiber?

Even though chenille is made of microfiber, a “microfiber mitt” is of a completely different construction. Microfiber is composed of polyester and other synthetic materials that are at once soft and durable.
Microfiber is also lint-free, which means that you won’t have fibers left behind after a cleaning job. Unlike chenille, microfiber mitts don’t have long strands of material but are generally more plush and fuzzy.

Which Should You Use?

Chenille is often the choice for boat owners who need to remove lots of dirt and grime from the surface of the hull. The long fibers excel at grabbing debris while still being gentle on surface finishes. This makes chenille the choice for delicate surfaces that need the softest touch.

As for microfiber mitts, they are excellent for tighter spaces or around complex shapes where chenille’s strands may get tangled or caught. If your hull just needs a wipedown and doesn’t have high amounts of built-up surface grime, a microfiber mitt will do just fine.

Ultimately, the choice between chenille and microfiber mitts comes down to personal preference, but boat owners appreciate the scrubbing power of chenille for deep cleans. Both materials are durable and resilient and are easy to wash and reuse.

When Microfiber and Chenille Combine

You may find mitts that have chenille on one side and microfiber on the other. This combination provides the benefits of both materials on a single mitt. In many cases, these dual-sided mitts tout one side as appropriate for washing and the other better for waxing.

What About Sponges?

You might wonder why you don’t see recommendations for sponges in boat cleaning tutorials. The problem with sponges is that their flat surfaces and tight construction mean that they tend to push dirt and grime around rather than pick them up.

As you wipe your boat’s surface with a sponge, the surface debris will grind against the finish and cause tiny scratches. These scratches are what lead to unsightly swirl marks.

Why Captains Preferred Products Sells Chenille Wash Mitts


Chenille is the softest, safest material for cleaning boats. Boats are expensive investments, and using harsh materials that damage the surface shortens the life of the boat and reduces the boat’s value. In addition, improperly cleaned boats can spread contaminants and microorganisms to sensitive areas.

If you don’t have a regular cleaning schedule for your boat, it’s time to create one. Make sure you have the right tools to give your boat the deep clean it deserves.

Captains Preferred Products’ Premium Chenille Microfiber Wash Mitts use a strong yet gentle 70/30 microfiber blend for long life and scratch-free cleaning, and they’re suitable for washing and waxing as well as dry dusting. With our mitts, your hull will be sparkling clean every time.

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What Electronics Do You Need on a Boat?

Unless you are a purist with a passion for historical sailing methods and a deep knowledge of celestial navigation, you will need a bevy of electronic equipment on your boat that covers an array of essential purposes, such as: 

  • Communication
  • Navigation
  • Monitoring Boat Systems

Entertainment could be considered to be a final category, but devices such as televisions are generally not seen as “essentials.” In any case, some items’ functions may overlap between the above categories, but each piece of electronic equipment fulfills at least one necessary role.

Communication Equipment

Whether you want to call for help or chat with a fellow boater, you’ll need a way to reach them. With that said, your options include the following:

VHF Radio

Should you need to reach out to law enforcement or even the Coast Guard, you’ll need a very high frequency (VHF) radio. It’s more reliable than a cell phone, which can lose signal or drain the battery, leaving you unable to call anyone. 

With a digital selective calling (DSC)-enabled radio, operators can send distress signals directly to emergency responders, and depending on the features built into the radio, it may automatically provide your GPS location with the distress call as well.

Automatic Identification System

While an Automatic Identification System (AIS) won’t send specific messages, it will constantly broadcast your boat’s name, position, course, and speed, giving boaters the ability to keep out of each others’ way and anticipate where other vessels are heading. Some AIS equipment includes two-way receivers that can display the position of your boat and other boats in the area at the same time.

Navigation

Even skilled sailors with a full-fledged knowledge of celestial navigation will need assistance from basic equipment, especially when there’s cloud cover. As such, these are your options:

Compass

At the bare minimum, you should have a compass on board, and electronic compasses are preferable because they tend to be more accurate.

GPS/Chartplotter

Even if you have GPS services on your phone, consider a dedicated chartplotter. These feature charts with waypoints and water routes not shown on standard smartphone maps, and they are designed with marine use in mind, providing waterproof enclosures and simple control layouts. Should power cut out for any reason, keep paper charts on your boat, too.

Fishfinder/Depthfinder/Sonar

These devices are useful for more than just fishing excursions, as they operate using sonar to measure water depth. Fishfinders, though, will generally display more information for anglers looking for their next catch, such as water temperature and the contours at the sea bottom.

Radar

While depthfinders and fishfinders are largely vertical in their operational range, radars extend horizontally, showing boaters other vessels and objects in low or zero-visibility situations.

Autopilot

Simple autopilot systems will maintain a set heading, while more advanced versions can use inputs from chartplotters to follow a plotted course.

Wi-Fi/Cell Range Booster

Should you want to continue using your cellphone, whether to communicate, help in navigation, or for entertainment purposes, a Wi-Fi or cell range booster can help you maintain a strong signal on the water.

Monitoring Boat Systems

Using monitoring systems to stay on top of your boat’s health will keep you from getting stranded, and they make operating your boat far more convenient. Your options for these devices include the following:

Multifunctional Displays (MFDs)

These devices funnel the various systems of the boat into a single display and interface, allowing the boater to control all of the vessel’s digital systems without having to access multiple pieces of equipment, such as the radar, chartplotter, lighting, cameras, and various entertainment systems, at once.

Engine Monitor

The functionality of an engine monitor may generally be integrated into the MFD, but even if your engine has separate monitoring functions, you need a way to view the engine’s temperature, RPM, fuel level, and any warnings indicating low oil or other such issues.

Battery Monitor

Without your battery, you’re dead in the water. Keeping tabs on its state of charge and overall health will inform you as to whether it’s good for a day on the water or in need of replacement.

Do Boats Come With Electronics?

Included electronics will depend on the boat. Just as cars may be feature-rich or relatively barebones, so are boats. If you’re buying a new boat, you may be able to select which electronics are included, and you may even be able to choose specific brands or models of devices, whereas if you’re purchasing a used boat, you’ll need to investigate which items come with it. 

In either case, you will need to inspect the electronics carefully before making a purchase. If they seem damaged due to neglect or misuse, you’ll need to take that into account and either negotiate a lower purchase price or walk away entirely. Never settle for lessened safety.

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What Tools Should I Keep on My Boat?

If you knew exactly what would go wrong on your future boating adventures, you could keep non-essential items back at home or in your tow vehicle, but — of course — you can’t schedule emergencies. 

Still, by knowing that problems are inevitable, you can prepare, and as such, you should have emergency supplies and tools on hand before you go out. You can create your own “essentials kit,” so you don’t have to reference a checklist for every boating session.

Tools You Should Have

Some of the tools below will see regular use, while others will be “just in case” items. Nevertheless, a go-to list of tools includes the following items:

Jumper Cables/Portable Jump Starter

You likely have a set of cables in your car; your boat should have them, too. Should you have a battery die while you’re on the water, jumper cables will let you borrow some power from a fellow boater. 

If you’re out on the water on your own, though, and you don’t want to wait for rescue, a portable jump starter is a battery you can use to get your boat running again. In any case, purchase quality cables and jump starters that can handle the rigors of marine environments.

A Powerful Waterproof Flashlight

Not only will a flashlight be handy if your boating expedition runs past sunset, but it will also allow you to send emergency signals in Morse code, such as the universally recognized “SOS.” Aim to purchase a light with a luminosity of 500 lumens or more so you can easily be seen from far away.

Pliers

If you need to make some emergency repairs to an electronic device, you’ll want narrow pliers for fine control. Needle nose pliers can fit into tight spaces and often feature wire cutters. A set of channel lock pliers will transmit more torque and give you a better grip for jobs that emphasize strength over finesse, and locking pliers can make some jobs easier by acting like an extra set of hands to hold items in place.

Wrenches and Sockets

You may need to turn some nuts and bolts, so you’ll need a set of wrenches and sockets in the appropriate sizes.

Screwdrivers

A comprehensive set of flathead, Phillips head, and even star or torx bits will ensure you can tighten and loosen whatever you need to. A screwdriver with interchangeable bits will keep weight and size down.

Scissors and Wire Cutters

From fishing lines to electrical lines, there are plenty of items you’ll need to cut, so you’ll want to have scissors or wire cutters handy. 

Multi-Tools

When you need a more obscure item, such as a file or small saw, a multi-tool is a great way to access various tools simultaneously.

Tape

Keep several kinds of tape on board to cover various scenarios, such as electrical tape, self-amalgamating silicone tape, and duct tape. 

Zip Ties

In cases where you need to secure lines or cables and adhesive tapes won’t stick, zip ties work wonders.

A Tow Line

Should you happen to run out of fuel or break down, you’ll need a way for another boat to pull you back to shore. 

Spare Bulbs and Fuses

When a bulb or fuse burns out while out on the water in a storm or at night, it can be dangerous. Always carry spares.

A Fire Extinguisher

Even though you’re on the water, fire can still pose a threat, and electrical fires, grease fires, and chemical fires won’t react well to water, anyway. A tri-class extinguisher will handle nearly any type of fire you may experience.

Drain Plugs

Keep spares on board so that dropping one overboard or leaving some at the dock isn’t a disaster.

Goggles and Snorkel

You may have to head underwater to, say, remove a tangled line from your propeller, so being able to see and breathe is undoubtedly essential.

A Rigging Knife

Even with a multi-tool, consider a rigging knife, too. It is designed to cut through thick lines quickly, which is what you want to do if a line is pulling your boat in unwanted directions.

The Importance of Being Prepared

Perhaps you’ve sailed out dozens of times with no problems; you’ve been lucky and made it back to shore every time without having to engage in emergency repairs or call for help. 

Luck runs out, though, and if you boat long enough, you’re bound to run into some sort of trouble, such as:

  • Running out of fuel
  • Having an electrical issue that cuts out navigation, radio, etc.
  • Springing a leak
  • Blowing fuses or bulbs
  • Experiencing a major mechanical failure
  • Breaking something essential, such as a latch, hose, or handle
  • Having to extinguish a fire

These are just a few possible scenarios. In reality, emergencies can take many forms, including some that are truly unexpected, which makes being as prepared as possible a wise move in any scenario.

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How to Winterize Your Boat

Boat on the Water

Not all boat owners live in perpetual warm weather. While living on the constant 100+ degree equator poses its own challenges for seacraft, those living where the seasons change have another concern — winter. 

As the final jacket-free days of fall begin to wane, you’ll need to turn your attention to your boat and prepare it for the chilly, freezing climate.

Why Should You Winterize Your Boat?

Most boats live perpetually outdoors, often in the water. Without the right precautions, boats can’t handle the constant freezing and thawing of water. 

Ice will build up on the surface of the boat, but more than that, any moisture in the electronics will crystalize, too. Rubber components can become brittle and crack, ice can expand inside joints and burst seals, and hulls can crack.

In short, winter weather will wreck an unprepared boat. Whether you store your boat in a heated, climate-controlled storage unit, on a trailer in your yard, or tied up at the marina, winterizing will ensure the boat is ready to use come spring. 

Collect Your Materials

To protect your boat for winter, you’ll need:

  1. Microfiber cloths (when you spill liquids, these cloths won’t scratch surfaces)
  2. Fresh engine oil
  3. Fuel stabilizer
  4. Antifreeze
  5. Oil filter
  6. Fogging oil
  7. A cover
  8. A dehumidifier or desiccants

If flexible or rubber parts of your boat have been damaged, such as hoses or gaskets, it’s best to replace them while the weather is still warm and your boat is not yet in storage.

Winterizing Your Boat

The best time to winterize your boat is before the weather drops below freezing. This is important not just for the health of your boat, but it’s for your benefit, too! Working on your boat while wearing a heavy coat, hat, and gloves can be restrictive. It’s best to do it while you can still get away with short sleeves.

1. Change the Engine Oil and Filter

Despite your best efforts, and regardless of how well-engineered your boat happens to be, contaminants and moisture will make their way into the engine. 

Before you change the oil, crank over your motor while the boat is still in the water. This will help the oil to thin out and drain more easily. Fill it up with fresh oil, swap out the filter for a new one, and test the engine to make sure it’s running well. 

2. Fog the Engine

Fogging the engine will protect it from internal corrosion. Older carbureted engines will need fogging fluid, while engines equipped with electronic fuel injection (EFI) will need a combination of gas and EFI fogging oil. If you can run the engine until warm once a week during winter, this will do the trick, too. 

After fogging, check your gear oil, if applicable. You’re looking for signs of water contamination. If you see any water, drain the oil and replace it. 

Also, if your engine has one, drain gas from the carburetor before storage. When in doubt, read the instructions on the bottle carefully and ensure you get the right oil for your engine! EFI fogging oil should only be used in EFI systems, and carburetor fogging fluid should only be used in carbureted systems.

3. Stabilize the Fuel

Even if you’re using zero-ethanol gasoline, you’ll still want to use a fuel stabilizer to ensure the gas survives in your tank for several months. Once you treat the fuel, run the engine for a few minutes to ensure all the gas in the system is stabilized.

4. Flush, Drain, Add Antifreeze

Use the pumps on the boat to eliminate water from the washdowns and live wells, but stop running the pumps once they are dry. Then, run antifreeze through the pumps. Next, flush the engine’s cooling system and add antifreeze. Test the engine to ensure it maintains a stable temperature. 

If your boat has a plumbing system for a head, sink, shower, etc., drain it, too. You want to make sure there is no water left in any of the systems that can freeze while your boat is in storage. Finally, remove the drain plugs.

5. Add Grease and Lubricant

Apply grease to the grease fittings, as well as a marine lubricant. This will fight rust and corrosion.

6. Clean Your Boat and Wax It

Cleaning the boat will ensure that no contaminants, dirt, or debris stay on your boat for months on end. Waxing it will apply a protective coating that will last until spring.

7. Cover and Dehumidify

Ideally, your boat will be in dry storage, but that’s not always possible. Use a quality cover to protect the boat from precipitation if outside and leaks if it’s inside. Also, you can use a dehumidifier and desiccants to ensure it doesn’t foster mold and mildew growth.

Enjoy Your Boat in Spring!

If you’ve properly winterized your boat, you’ll be ready when the cold weather goes away. Make sure to check on your boat throughout winter to ensure it’s staying in ship-shape.

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How to Prevent Mildew on Boat Seats

Boat Mildew

Boat owners are constantly providing maintenance, but the environment that boats are a part of is also extremely harsh to them. Water is the universal solvent, after all, but even aside from the wear on the hull, the shortage of electronics, and the corrosion and pitting that comes from saltwater, the perpetual moisture creates the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew.

What Causes Mildew?

Mold and mildew spores are just about everywhere, and they’re always looking for new locations to thrive in. When boat owners don’t properly clean their boats, inspect for and repair damage, and winterize, mold and mildew will seize the opportunity to set up shop.

The two biggest factors for mildew growth are warmth and humidity. It, alongside mold, can still grow in cold conditions, though; it’s just that the two grow faster when temperatures rise. 

Why Is Mildew a Problem?

A bit of mildew might not seem like a big deal, but it can cause a host of headaches, including (but not limited to) the following:

1. It’s Unsightly

No one finds a boat covered in mildew and mold attractive, and unchecked mold growth is often taken as a sign that the boat is poorly maintained. That can be especially problematic for owners who want to sell their boats for top dollar. 

2. It Can Aggravate Health Problems

Moldy and mildewy boats are more than an aesthetics issue; they can irritate the respiratory systems of those with asthma and similar conditions. Even relatively healthy individuals may respond to continued mold exposure with coughs, watery eyes, and sneezing. They may even develop a rash or other form of skin irritation.

3. It Smells Bad

The odor of mold and mildew is musty, biting, and simply unpleasant. It can also be difficult to remove, especially if the growths are left unchecked for long periods.

4. It Can Damage Your Boat

Though mold and mildew can enjoy building and growing on your boat’s surface, they won’t always stay there. Mold will work its way into wood, fiberglass, and vinyl, causing each to weaken, warp, and break.

Don’t Give Mildew an Opportunity

You can keep mildew from showing up and ruining your boating experience in the following ways:

1. Clean Your Boat

Deep clean your boat every four to 12 weeks if it’s on the water and every six months if it’s dry-docked. Still, you ideally should be at least wiping down and rinsing your boat after every use, including the seats.

2. Use a Quality, Undamaged Cover and Dehumidify

If your cover has any rips or tears, patch them thoroughly, get a new cover, or consider shrink-wrapping your boat for even better protection. Whichever method you use, make sure you also use active ventilation, such as with a dehumidifier or desiccants, to keep moisture from building up inside the boat.

3. Allow for Airflow Inside the Boat

Stagnant air is friendly to mold, so make sure air can move throughout the boat by keeping all the cabinets, doors, lockers, and covers open. Solar vents or battery-powered vents are fantastic for pushing air in and out of boats, and if you have a boat larger than 30 feet, you should consider using two in a push-pull configuration.

4. Remove Items That Harbor Mold

Any cushions, blankets, sheets, mattresses, clothes, and other absorbent items should be stored elsewhere, as they can easily trap mold and mildew. Removing them will also improve airflow anyway.

5. Inspect Your Boat

Cleaning your boat is the perfect time to conduct an inspection. Check for water damage or areas where mildew might thrive unnoticed, and then repair and replace components fostering the substance.

Cleaning Mildew

If you’ve noticed that mold and mildew have begun to call your boat home, don’t panic, as you can get rid of it in the following ways:

1. Use Mildew Remover

Commercial mildew removal products will work as advertised, so long as they’re used as directed. For the safety of family members and pets, never clean the boat when they’re around, and seek natural mildew removers.

2. Use Bleach

You can certainly use bleach, just not straight bleach. Use a diluted solution of three parts water and one part bleach. After spraying and wiping off the mold, rinse thoroughly with water.

3. Use Baking Soda

With a quarter tablespoon of baking soda in a 16-ounce spray bottle and a soft brush, you can remove even stubborn mold patches. Make sure to rinse with water and let air dry.

4. Fumigate and Use a Mildew Blocker

These products are for after you remove the mold. Fumigating with a mildew control product will release chlorine dioxide to kill the spores and eliminate the odor. Follow that up with a mildew blocker to help keep the mildew and mold from quickly returning.

Never Give Up

All of these procedures are temporary solutions, given that, as long as your boat is in the water, it’s susceptible to mold and mildew. It’s up to you to protect your boat with routine maintenance and a watchful eye!

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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.