It’s no secret that aluminum adds to the beauty and value of boats and pontoons. Being resistance to corrosion, aluminum is a versatile metal that has significant applications in various industries, including the marine industry. Even so, it can be quite challenging to maintain your aluminum boat. Aluminum is prone to oxidation which covers its true beauty; thus, there is a need for ongoing maintenance using the best aluminum boat cleaner.
As an angler, you are well aware of the importance of removing marine deposits on your boat and maintaining its gloss. After all, your boat is exposed to abrasive elements both in fresh and saltwater. This can damage its appearance over time.
Aluminum boat cleaning products are designed to keep aluminum boat and pontoons looking their best both below and above the waterline. Using quality products to detail your boat can make a lot of difference. Not only will they offer protection, but they will also give your boat an immaculate presentation and restore your pride of ownership.
In this article, we enumerated the 10 best cleaning products that will keep your aluminum boat shiny and prevent oxidation. We also highlighted buying guidelines to help you make an informed buying selection.
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Best Aluminum Boat Cleaner Reviews of 2023
1. Starbrite Ultimate Aluminum Cleaner
Do you own a pontoon, canoe, or jon boat that has lost its original luster and become dull or stained over time? If so, then you might want to consider the Starbrite aluminum cleaner and restorer which is specifically designed to safely clean dull or stained aluminum surfaces.
Starbrite is a well-known brand in the US that manufactures cleaning products, polishes, motor oils, teak finishes, and many more. The Starbrite Ultimate Aluminum cleaner has its own set of unique properties that will keep your aluminum boat glowing like new.
What I like about this product is its effectiveness in removing grime, lime stains, and oxidation without causing damage to the metal. So whether you are dealing with weathered or unpainted aluminum surfaces, you will be at peace knowing that this product is safe to use.
Additionally, I recommend you use this product together with Starbrite’s Aluminum polish. The Aluminum polish is formulated with PTEF polymers that offer UV protection on the aluminum surfaces, thereby giving a more uniform finish. Also, the polish helps reduce oxidation buildup with little effort.
2. Aluminum Cleaner & Brightener & Restorer
If you are looking for a quick and safe method to clean and remove stains from your aluminum boat, trailer, or RV, then this aluminum cleaner, brightener, and restorer from Quality Chemical is what you need. Apart from aluminum surfaces, it is also designed for use on most pontoons, machinery, trucks, parts, utensils, and trailers. It’s also the go-to cleaner if you are getting your aluminum ready for painting.
This non-fuming acid agent by Quality Chemical is excellent for removing stains, oils, discoloration grease, carbon, and diesel smoke. Also, it gets through the oxidized coating and removes oxidation buildup with ease. What’s more, it comes with wetting agents that enable it to clean road film and other tough cleaning jobs.
Besides cleaning, what I like about this product is that it brightens the aluminum surface it cleans. It is highly concentrated and cleans and brightens aluminum surfaces in just one application. For this reason, you can never go wrong with this product if your goal is to give your aluminum trailer, boat, or RV a new look.
Another interesting feature that makes me recommend this product is the fact that it features corrosion inhibitors. Unlike most marine cleaners, this product prevents rust from returning to the surface. If you have limited time, you will appreciate its ease of application.
3. Toon-Brite Aluminum Cleaner
The Toon Brite aluminum cleaner quickly and effectively eliminates lime deposits, oxidation, scum, and waterline stains from most aluminum surfaces including that of boats, RVs, trucks, and wheels. If you are a boat owner who prefers do-it-yourself cleaning, you will undoubtedly appreciate this product.
What I like most about this cleaner is the presence of biodegradable surfactants that make it environmentally-friendly. As a biodegradable cleaner, it makes sure to clean and brighten aluminum surfaces without causing any damage to the paint.
I also like the fast-acting simple application that only requires you to spray the cleaner and rinse off afterward. The ½ gallon bottle concentration includes a 3-finger trigger sprayer to make the application easy. Also, the bottle can be diluted if you need to tackle lighter duty cleaning. Just half a gallon of this concentrate carries enough strength to take on light cleaning jobs.
For better results, it is recommended to use Toon Brite Aluminum polish. This gives the surface a protective clear coat and new appearance.
4. BioKleen Aluma-Kleen Cleaner
If you are an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys spending time exploring marine life, you need a top-notch marine product like the Aluma-Kleen cleaner from BioKleen. Since aluminum surfaces on boats are prone to stains, oxidation, and discoloration due to natural reactions by elements, you will need an effective cleaning solution like this one.
This cleaner by Bio-Kleen is the most suitable solution for removing algae, scum line, and scale on pontoons and other metal surfaces. I love the fact that this product easily cleans stains, oxidation, and discoloration from aluminum boats and other metal surfaces. Aside from that, it does well in giving running boards and rims of vehicles and trucks a sparkling shine.
The Aluma-Kleen cleaner is engineered to be biodegradable, meaning that it can safely clean aluminum surfaces. In fact, it is one of the very few cleaners that are designed with environmental safety in mind. The product contains high-grade ingredients that safely break down and dissolve dirt without causing any harm to you, the aluminum surface, or the environment.
The Aluma-Kleen has been tested and proved to have exceptional cleaning abilities once it comes into contact with the stained area. Users say that it quickly and easily cleans and brightens diamond plating on boats and RV. Application is very simple, and the product works in just 5-10 minutes. For extremely oxidized aluminum or pontoons, you’ll have to do some additional brushing and allocate more time.
5. JJV’s Best ALU100-G Aluminum Cleaner
JJV’S Best is known to offer some of the best marine cleaning products that are environmentally-friendly. Their aluminum cleaner is a groundbreaking cleaner that is specially designed to clean and bring shine to pontoon tubes. Unlike most pontoon cleaners that use caustic acid, this aluminum cleaner is extremely safe to use and environmentally-friendly as well. This green product is non-abrasive and non-toxic, and it stripes away dirt and grime from top to bottom of pontoon tubes without using acids.
The thing I like about this aluminum cleaner is its effectiveness in transforming any aluminum surface with just one application without the need for heavy scrubbing. You just have to spray the cleaner on the stained surfaces for 5 to 10 minutes then rinse off with a pressure sprayer from top to bottom. You will be amazed by its micro action that removes the scum from the surface, leaving behind a shiny surface. It has never gotten any easy than this!
6. Sharkhide Aluminum Cleaner
Sharkhide’s aluminum cleaner is not the everyday cleaner that you can find in retail shops. It is among the few aluminum cleaners that give unbelievable results. It is a highly concentrated cleaner that is a blend of acids and cleaning agents. Unlike most cleaners, this product cleans aluminum surfaces without leaving any streak. Once you have applied it on the surface and rinsed off, it will leave a uniform finish.
An interesting feature of this powerful aluminum hull cleaner which I like is that it can be applied straight or diluted with water as much as 10:1 to match the severity of the application. Besides being an amazing cleaner, it is also very safe to use. This makes sure that your paint, decals, or carpeted bunks will not be damaged.
The application is very simple without any scrubbing needed. Also, the cleaner works well on dry aluminum surfaces. You just have to use an adjustable tip sprayer to apply the cleaner on the targeted surface and allow the foam to work for a few minutes before rinsing off. It is advisable to set the nozzle to the finest mist. Once you are done, you will notice a clean, streak-free, and stain-free white finish.
7. Zing 188 White Professional Aluminum Pontoon & Boat Cleaner
This cleaner from Zing is the ultimate answer to a boat that struggles with the toughest stains and oxidation. The Zing aluminum cleaner is engineered to quickly remove marine deposits, discoloration, and oxidation on boats and pontoons in both fresh and saltwater areas. This unique feature makes it a top choice for professionals everywhere. It also attacks and lifts up barnacles and zebra mussels, leaving behind a clean and stain-free surface.
The formula is acid-based and contains a blend of cleaning detergents, acids, emulsifiers, and metal inhibitors. This makes it effective at both cleaning and brightening unpainted aluminum surfaces. Oxidized aluminum tends to become dull over time due to the effects of harsh weather. With this product, the aluminum surface of your boat will be restored to its original luster.
One thing I like about the Zing cleaner is its ease of application. It comes with a mop applicator in the package for easy application at all times. Similarly, you can apply the cleaner using a spray applicator and work from bottom to top in an even pattern. Plus, I like the fact that this product doesn’t contain phosphates.
8. 3M Marine Aluminum Restorer & Finish
Your boat can be a great investment, and for this reason, it’s important to take care of it through regular maintenance. The 3M Marine aluminum restorer and polish makes sure that your pontoon, hull, and boat rail retains its luster. With this product, you can expect more than just cleaning. It’s among the few aluminum cleaners that restore and polish surfaces, giving you more time to relax on your water vessel.
This product is highly recommended for removing stains, discoloration, tarnish, and corrosion on aluminum surfaces that come as a result of weathering and outdoor exposure. Aside from that, it works well to restore oxidized marine metals surfaces like brass, bronze, chrome, copper, and many more.
What I like about the 3M Marine aluminum restorer is that it’s formulated to revive the appearance of aluminum surfaces with just a small amount of use. Unlike most aluminum cleaners, this concentrated formula has a light abrasive action that will remove chalking and oxidation while restoring the original color and luster of surfaces with a small amount.
Just a little of this product can go a long way! Before using in painted aluminum, I suggest testing on a small area first in order to establish the effect. Moreover, the application for this product is very easy as it can be applied with a polisher or manually by hand. However, for best results, I recommend using a machine application.
9. TotalBoat Aluminum Boat Etch
It’s no surprise to find aluminum pontoons and boats with traces of oxidation and corrosion due to the damages of water and other weathering effects. Due to this, it is quite difficult for paint to adhere to aluminum for an extended period of time. This is where an etching primer such as the TotalBoat aluminum boat etch wash enters the picture. As a quality boat cleaner, it cleans, brightens, and etches your boat’s aluminum surfaces so the paint can have greater adhesion.
This ready-to-use formula is essential for proper surface preparation in order to provide the tooth needed for finishes and primers to stick to the aluminum. It is formulated for use on aluminum boats, duck boats, and fishing boats. In addition to aluminum surfaces, you can also use the etching treatment on non-ferrous metals including galvanized steel.
What I especially like about this product is that it offers temporary protection to aluminum boats and pontoons against peeling so that oxidation and corrosion won’t occur. For this reason, you won’t have to worry about the damaging effects of water.
You will also appreciate the fact that this product is easy to use and works in a single step. You simply have to use spray equipment or brush to a thin coat of the etch wash and rinse after 5 minutes. A Scotch-Brite pad is very effective for cleaning parts with heavy oxidation buildup.
10. Duragloss 551 Marine/RV Aluminum Cleaner
The secret to keeping your boat’s aluminum and other metal surfaces shine like new is by using a marine cleaner that is formulated to remove tarnish. This aluminum cleaner from Duragloss is designed to get rid of oxidation and corrosion on aluminum surfaces which give them an unsightly look.
It provides professional strength that quickly and easily removes oxidation, tarnish, salt, corrosion, road film, gas, and soil that develops over aluminum boats, RV, copper, brass, and non-ferrous surfaces.
I am impressed by the fact that this professional strength formula is non-abrasive. This means that it targets the tarnished aluminum and brightens the surfaces without causing damage to the metal itself.
The application is very easy and straightforward. Just spray the cleaner on the surface you intend to clean beginning from the bottom to the top. You will notice that the cleaner breaks and loosens the tarnish to reveal clean, shiny metalwork beneath. For stubborn stains and heavily oxidized aluminum, make a second application and use a brush for an additional application.
What to Look for When Buying an Aluminum Boat Cleaner
Every boat owner wants an aluminum cleaner that will clean, restore, and brighten their boat or pontoons and keep them looking great for a long period of time. However, with a wide variety of marine aluminum cleaners on the market, finding the most suitable one for your needs can be tricky.
That said, here are some things you want to keep in mind to help you choose the right cleaner:
- Multiple Applications
When you purchase an aluminum boat cleaner, it’s important to think about how many applications you are going to make. While most cleaners are specifically designed for aluminum use, a versatile product that has the ability to be used on numerous surfaces such as non-ferrous metals, brass, stainless steel, and modular is a good choice. After all, a product which can have multiple applications will help you save money in the long run.
- Ease of Application
An ideal aluminum cleaner must be easy to use. Begin by identifying the method of application that works best for you, and choose a product that will make it easy for you to make an application. For instance, if you prefer to spray the cleaner on an aluminum surface, it will be wise to choose a product that includes a sprayer option.
- Health Concern
You must know that most aluminum cleaners contain hazardous chemicals that can be damaging to human health. Although most of these cleaners are very powerful and effective, they might contain toxic chemicals as well.
Products that contain corrosive compounds can irritate the eyes, burn the skin, and even damage the environment. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that the aluminum boat cleaner you choose won’t contain any harmful or toxic ingredients.
Similarly, it’s important to remember that not all boat cleaning products are marine-friendly. Therefore, you have to take special consideration when choosing cleaning agents.
I would recommend going for an aluminum cleaner that is environment-friendly. In the same way, avoid using chemicals like muriatic acid to clean aluminum surfaces. While cleaning aluminum pontoons with muriatic acid is considered effective, it should be avoided because it can be very dangerous both to you and the environment.
It is no secret that every boat owner needs a cleaner that can deliver exceptional results without a lot of effort. To get the best value for your money, you need a cleaner that will deliver the required results with just little effort exerted.
For that, you must research the cleaner that you are planning to buy and make sure that it has the ability to enhance the appearance of your aluminum boat and restore its original luster. Otherwise, an aluminum cleaner that is ineffective will leave streaking on your boat’s surface and even cause more damage.
One last thing that you must consider is the cost of the product. Depending on your budget, you want to choose a bottle size that will be enough to restore the beauty and value of your boat. It is a wise idea to shop around first for different products so that you can identify an affordable yet quality cleaner.
Additionally, I recommend investing in a highly concentrated product so you can save money in the long run.
Other Important Factors to Consider
What is an Aluminum Boat Cleaner?
If you own a boat or pontoon, you have probably heard about aluminum boat cleaners. Aluminum boat cleaners are cleaning products that are specially formulated to restore the shine of aluminum surfaces that have become dull and stained due to the effects of water and weather over time.
An aluminum pontoon and boat cleaner safely and quickly removes scum, marine deposits, and discoloration caused at the waterline. The best cleaning products on the market contain powerful ingredients for removing oxidation from aluminum boat in order to prevent any possible stains in the future.
Having a top-notch marine cleaning product is undoubtedly an amazing investment if you want to preserve the look and quality of your boat.
How Does It Work?
An aluminum boat cleaner works with the help of its chemical ingredients which are proven to be effective in removing dirt buildup on aluminum surfaces. However, not all aluminum boat cleaners are made the same. Some include harsh and toxic chemicals in their formulation, while some are made of non-toxic ingredients which are effective in cleaning nonetheless.
The best way to clean aluminum boat without exposing yourself to toxic chemicals is to go for products that don’t contain toxic ingredients. Since aluminum oxidizes unequally, you will find that some areas, especially those with heavy oxidation, are more resistant to cleaning.
Heavier oxidized areas may require additional application and scrubbing until the surface is completely cleaned.
What are the Different Types of Aluminum Cleaners?
There are different types of aluminum cleaners in the market to choose from. The type of cleaner you need will depend on the current condition of your boat’s aluminum. They’re as follows:
A restorative cleaner is a string type cleaner that does a good job in cleaning and restoring aluminum to its original state. Therefore, if your boat has an old and fatigued look due to outdoor effects, then this is the right type of cleaner for you. It will remove any coatings that give aluminum surfaces a dull appearance and restore them to their previous shine and luster.
If your goal is to achieve a high-quality shine, then you should settle for a polishing product. Unlike restorative cleaners, a polish is a mild type of product that does not cause any damage to the surface. It has the ability to clean surfaces that have light dirt and stain.
Why Do You Need an Aluminum Boat Cleaner?
Cleaning your aluminum boat with the right products is important to make sure that your boat will have a long-lasting performance and can maintain its appearance for a longer period of time.
Without further ado, here are the benefits you can get from using aluminum boat cleaners:
- Excellent Marine Protection
Some people don’t think that exposing their boat to water conditions can lead to long-term damage. Aluminum boat surfaces can lose their original luster due to lime deposits, oxidation, and corrosion. While it is possible to clean aluminum surfaces using soap and water, these products will not leave your boat in a protected state.
However, using a top-notch aluminum boat cleaner will surely protect your boat from these damaging effects. Aside from that, it can also maintain that protection for a long period of time compared to regular soap cleaning.
- Enhanced Aluminum Appearance
Aluminum is reactive by nature, and this causes oxidation which makes it lose its shine over time. Most aluminum cleaners have the ability to leave a clean and shiny appearance that will give your boat or pontoon a striking new appearance.
This is because they are designed with chemicals that break up the thin layer of corrosion, oxidation, stain, and tarnish. With regular use, the cleaners can reveal shiny metalwork of your aluminum boat that you will appreciate for years.
- Dual Purpose
While most aluminum boat cleaners are specifically designed to clean your boat, it is possible to find brands that serve multiple purposes like restorative and polishing. Such products are formulated to strip away dirt and stains while restoring the aluminum to its original state at the same time. Also, some products are formulated to act as pretreatment for polishing surfaces.
Another benefit of using aluminum boat cleaners is that they can be used to clean and brighten a variety of surfaces. For the best value of money, look for products that are intended to be used on a variety of surfaces including cleaning aluminum boat hull, non-ferrous metals, galvanized steel, and many more.
- Not Just Limited for Boats
Lastly, aluminum boat cleaners aren’t just limited for use on aluminum boats. In fact, a lot of products on the market are also designed for use on RVs and trucks. That said, if you own such vehicles, you’ll appreciate having an aluminum boat cleaner with you at all times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the most trusted aluminum boat cleaner brands?
A: Although there are numerous aluminum boat cleaner brands in the market, not all of them are reliable. That said, you’re better off buying from reputable brands. Here is a list of the most trusted brands you should check out:
- 3M – this company is a leading manufacturer of a variety of products ranging from marine cleaners to medical products. They offer a marine aluminum restorer and polish that is specifically designed for bare aluminum. Being in the market for a long time, you can expect nothing but the best from this brand.
- StarBrite – another leading brand with regards to marine cleaning products, Star Brite has been offering exceptional aluminum boat cleaners in the market for years now. What I like about this brand is that it is owned by passionate boaters who use the latest technology and high-grade ingredients for their hundreds of cleaning products.
- Bio Kleen – Bio Kleen is an American company that is popular for its biodegradable, environmentally safe, and non-aerosol marine cleaning products. Established in 1987, the company is dedicated to providing safe aluminum boat cleaners that are formulated using high-quality ingredients.
- Duragloss – although Duragloss is popular for providing a wide range of car care products, the brand is also an expert in marine cleaning solutions. Their professional strength formula is a favorite to boat and RV owners who have been struggling with a thick layer of oxidation on the aluminum surface.
- JJV’S BEST – unlike most competitive brands that manufacture caustic acid-based cleaners, JJV manufactures non-toxic and environmentally safe products that don’t contain acids. Another thing that makes them stand out is the fact that their line of products doesn’t require scrubbing after application.
- Sharkhide – Sharkhide’s line of marine cleaning products are 100% American-made. Designed with versatility in mind, Sharkhide’s cleaning products can be used on a variety of surfaces including aluminum, copper, stainless steel, brass, and bronze. In fact, their aluminum cleaner is rated as the best aluminum hull cleaner on the market.
Q: What to use to clean an aluminum boat?
A: In order to clean an aluminum boat effectively, you will need a top-notch aluminum cleaning product that is designed for this very purpose. You need to do a lot of extensive research on various products in order to identify the product that will clean and restore the beauty of your aluminum boat. Aside from a cleaning product, you also need other important items such as:
- Polishing cloth
- Clean water
- Hose (optional)
- Acid-resistant gloves
As long as you can secure these items, you will be able to clean your aluminum boat with ease and without any worries of getting exposed to chemicals.
Q: How to clean an aluminum boat?
A: Most cleaning agents come with clear instructions on how to clean your boat. Basically, there are three methods that you can use to clean your aluminum boat. They’re as follows:
- Spray and Rinse
This method is appropriate for doing light cleaning that requires less energy. To start, generously apply or spray the aluminum boat cleaner of your choice on your boat’s aluminum surface starting from the bottom to the top. Use smooth even strokes in order to achieve uniform coverage.
After that, allow the cleaning agent coating to rest for about 10 minutes. Once it comes into contact with oxidation, the cleaner will foam, thereby indicating that it is working. Lastly, thoroughly rinse the cleaned surface with your power washer so as to achieve a shiny, brilliant appearance.
- Spray and scrub
For this method, you need your preferred cleaning agent and a brush or scrub pad. The method works best for aluminum boat cleaners that require scrubbing. The first step is to apply the cleaning product of the aluminum surface. Once the cleaning agent foams, use a brush to gently scrub it and allow it to penetrate on areas with heavy oxidation. Wait a few minutes before rinsing off with clean water. Afterward, dry the area with a clean cloth and see the results.
- Using natural cleaning agents
Alternatively, you can use natural cleaning agents like vinegar to get rid of oxidation on your aluminum boat. Cleaning aluminum boat with vinegar removes all oxidation in just 15 minutes. Simply add two tablespoons of vinegar for every quart of water and boil for 15 minutes. Pour the solution on the aluminum surface and allow it to sit for 15 minutes before rinsing off.
Whichever method you choose, it is still important to read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them in order to achieve the best results. Otherwise, you will end up with an uneven and streaked finish.
Q: Where to buy?
A: When it comes to purchasing the best aluminum boat cleaning product, you need to make sure that you shop around first before settling on a particular brand. While there are so many online stores that claim to sell high-quality marine cleaners, I highly recommend making your purchase from a reliable supplier like Amazon.
Amazon offers marine cleaners from industry-leading manufacturers like 3M, Bio-Kleen, JJV’S, Sharkhide, and Duragloss. Of course, you can also visit your local store and look for these particular brands.
Q: Are aluminum cleaners dangerous to use?
A: In most cases, aluminum cleaners are acid-based which can be dangerous to use if safety precautions are not followed. For this reason, make sure that you read, understand, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Also, always wear safety gears like eye protection and rubber gloves when dealing with any type of aluminum cleaners.
Q: What quantity should I use to completely get rid of the stains?
A: The amount of cleaner you should use will depend on the formula. If you are looking to tackle highly oxidized or stained surfaces, opt for cleaners that are highly concentrated so you only have to use a little amount. Aluminum cleaners that are not concentrated will require you to use more.
If you have invested in an aluminum boat or pontoon, you need to take every step possible to keep it clean and in tip-top shape. Your boat can be contaminated with marine deposit and saltwater which will end up reducing its value over time.
Having a clean boat will give you pride of ownership and allows you to enjoy spending time in marine life. When choosing the best aluminum boat cleaner, make sure that you research for several products extensively and read the manufacturer’s label to make sure that you can buy the right one for your needs.
I am Dave, Marine Talk’s content creator. Boating experiences matter when planning a boat trip for your family or going by yourself. Therefore, I am here to tackle all things relevant to boating so even the inexperienced ones can start their boating safely.