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How to Clean a Boat Carpet Using Household Cleaning Items

Fact checked by William Hart

how to clean a boat carpet

Similar to the vessel and engine, the boat carpet needs regular attention. In fact, the carpet is the boat part that can get dirty most easily because of the fish, spills, wet dog prints, and dirt from shoes. More so, dirty carpets can cause allergies. If you ever feel itchy, irritated, or often sneeze when sitting on your boat, it’s a clear sign to give the carpet a thorough clean.

I have to admit, cleaning a boat carpet can take a lot of time, especially if you are working with a big carpet that is full of stains and greases. However, don’t just soap it up and rinse it off like regular clothes. Most boat carpets are of high quality with plastic fibers. They need extra care.

To clean the pontoon boat carpet, first you will need to vacuum it thoroughly. Then, remove greasy spots and stains using a stain remover. After that, wash the carpet in small sections with a detergent. Finally, rinse and dry the carpet properly. In this article, besides giving an in-depth tutorial on how to clean a boat’s carpet, we will provide some carpet-cleaning hacks using white vinegar and baking soda.

Table of Contents

What You Will Need


Before we proceed, think about how deep you want to clean the carpet. Sometimes, all it needs is vacuuming. But sometimes, it requires a rigorous cleaning procedure with spot treatment. We recommend doing this in-depth cleaning process only two to three times a year. Too much cleaning can make your carpet wear out rapidly. So be mindful of skipping any step that is unnecessary in your situation.

With that being said, quickly gather the following.

1. A vacuum cleaner

Just like any regular carpet, a marine carpet needs to be vacuumed before cleaning. Any vacuum cleaner you have will get it done.

If you intend to buy a new one, know that the best vacuum cleaners for carpets are the upright models. They usually feature a turbo brush in the floor head, which effectively picks up hair and dirt that lie deep in the carpets. The wide floor head allows them to cover larger areas, helping to quicken the cleaning job. Also, if you live on a houseboat, the upright vacuum cleaners take up less storage space.

2. A stain remover

If your carpet has fish blood spots, coffee, or wine spills, you will need a stain remover. Some of the top-rated carpet stain removers are:

  • Bissell Professional Pet Stain & Odor Remover: If you often have your pets on board, this is an excellent choice to remove pet stains and the odor they might leave. The product can be used on hard surfaces like wood or fiberglass too.
  • Bissell Pro Oxy Power Shot: This is for deep spot cleaning. The product doesn’t just remove the stains on the surface, it gets rid of what penetrated into the carpet.
  • Resolve Pet Expert Carpet Moist Powder: This is the best to remove the stubborn grime on carpets.

If you don’t have a carpet stain remover, some household products can be used as alternatives:

  • White vinegar: White vinegar is a great household cleaner and disinfectant due to its acetic acid ingredient. It will get rid of the mineral deposit, grease, and grime that can’t be removed by regular cleaners. Grab the vinegar bottle in your kitchen; it will be helpful.
  • Baking soda: Baking soda is extremely useful in dissolving stains. It is safe to use baking soda on most fabrics. However, we recommend doing a small spot test before using it on your carpet.

Please be aware that removing stains can discolor dark carpets. Before moving on, consider whether you want to execute this step or not. Then, purchase the products accordingly.

3. A boat carpet cleaner

Boat carpet cleaning products are not always necessary; any mild detergent like dish soaps or multi-purpose cleaners will work. You should avoid any cleaners with bleach or harsh ingredients.

However, a boat is a huge investment; remember that the more you do to protect it, the better the returns if you decide to trade it. We recommend buying products specially formulated for boat carpet cleaning. A good marine carpet cleaner will not only deep clean but also condition the carpet, leaving it looking brand new for a prolonged period. The right cleaner is more effective, making the task easier, and expanding the carpet’s lifespan.

4. A soft brush

Prepare a soft brush to clean the bass boat carpet. Make sure the bristles are soft enough so that the fabric is out of harm’s way.

5. A garden hose or water bucket

Last but not least, you need a garden hose or a water bucket. Don’t use a pressure washer though. At a high setting, a pressure washer can damage or even tear off the fabric, especially those old carpets that are dry and brittle.

Steps to Clean a Marine Carpet


Before cleaning your bass boat carpet, get the working area ready by:

  • Removing the boat out of the water. Then, park it on a slight slope.
  • Removing the drain plug.
  • Preparing the deck for cleaning by picking up stuff on the floor, and removing obstacles like chairs and appliances.

Step 1. Vacuum

First, you need to vacuum the carpet thoroughly using the following steps:

  • Step 1: Vacuum the whole surface slowly: When vacuuming carpets, don’t rush. Vacuuming slowly will give the airflow and brush bar more time to pick up all dust and dirt between the carpet fibers. This way, you’re more likely to capture tiny particles hidden deep in the carpet.
  • Step 2: Go over the same spot: Go over one spot two to three times to ensure it is well-cleaned.
  • Step 3: Use accessories as needed: Many vacuum cleaners come with a pack of accessories. Feel free to change to a dusting or turbo brush for optimal cleaning.
  • Step 4: Don’t forget the hard-to-reach areas: Under the swiveling chairs or around the edges are areas we often neglect. You can use the help of a Crevice tool to get to these places.

Step 2. Spot treatment

Use the stain remover to get rid of the dirty spots. All you need to do is to apply the detergent, wait for a few minutes, then blot the area to remove excess. Some stain removers might have a slightly different cleaning procedure; follow the product instructions for the best results.

If you choose to use white vinegar or baking soda, here is what you should do:

  • Make a solution by mixing 40 oz of white vinegar with one gallon of water. Pour or spray the solution onto the dirty areas. Then, wait until the dirt dissolves and gently scrub it off using a soft brush. Finally, rinse thoroughly.
  • If the vinegar doesn’t do the trick, use baking soda. Firstly, wet the area you’re about to clean and sprinkle a decent amount of baking soda over it. Let it sit until the stains break down entirely. This should take at least three hours. Again, always do a spot test before using baking soda on your carpet. Lastly, vacuum it up.

Step 3. Wash the carpet

Now all of the dust, grime, and stains are removed, you should clean the bass boat carpet using a detergent. Work in small sections, saturate the area with water, then apply a generous amount of soap. After that, scrub gently to remove any dirt left. You should use sweeping motions following the carpet grain. When you’re done with one area, rinse it well before getting to another section.

Once all the sections are finished, give the whole carpet one final rinse to get rid of soap residues.

Step 4. Dry

Hard work pays off; the carpet should be clean and odor-free now. Before leaving it to air dry. Put your vacuum in its high setting and suck up all excess water. The boat carpet might take up to five hours to dry completely; vacuuming the moisture will help quicken the drying process. Also, if you’re doing yacht carpet cleaning, choose a hot and sunny day to carry out the procedure. Large and thick carpets can take forever to dry.

When the carpet dries, use the soft bristle brush to brush it against the grain. This final step will make the boat carpet look fluffy and new again. Once it’s all done, don’t forget to put the drain plug back in.


Even the most expensive boats can be ugly and filthy after a short time of use if not maintained properly. Take time to clean your marine carpet two to three times a year to keep its top shape and endure its lifespan. Plus, with the right techniques and products, cleaning a pontoon boat carpet can be much quicker and easier than you might think.

We hope you’ve gathered enough information on how to clean a boat carpet most effectively. If you enjoy the tutorial, please help us share it with others. Before you leave, let us know your thoughts in the comment section. We look forward to hearing from you!

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