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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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