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I posted yesterday on the Zero To Cruising Facebook page that I have a real love-hate thing going on with non-skid decking. While it does stop me from falling on my butt when the deck is wet, it is also a nightmare to keep clean!

A section of our non-skid deck.

When we’re in full-on charter mode the boat gets a serious scrubbing at least once per week. The last few weeks we’ve been in work mode though and while I’ve tried to keep the excess dirt to a minimum, the white color that I love has been replaced in a few (understatement) sections with more of a beige. I hate the color beige!

Say No to Beige!

Yesterday Rebecca and I did our best to bring the entire boat back to gleaming white but in some spots, we were only moderately successful. The mild soap that we were using to scrub the decks obviously needs to be upgraded. I asked on FB for cleaning product suggestions and many people were quick to share they favorites. I’ll repeat that request here. What do you use to clean your boat’s non-skid areas? I’m not so much interested in what to use to clean small, especially dirty spots. I’m more so looking for what to use on the entire thing. Post away!


  1. To clean my side walks and driveway, I pour a diluted bleach and water solution on them, then allow to dry. Wash down after it drys and it will look sparkling new.

  2. Bleach, but I have the luxury of not being in the water, as in, on a trailer.

  3. A mix of dish detergent (dawn) and bleach usually does pretty well. Requires a good post rinse, though.

  4. 5 gallon bucket, 4 oz simple green, 2 tablsespoons of borax. Soft or mild scrob brush.

  5. My Edel has its original 1981 beige fiberglass / gelcoat which I am gradually painting over with Brightsides white. Yes white shows the dirt but it is way easier to clean.

    I use either Spray 9 or Hertel in a spray bottle A gallon lasts me all summer. My boat brush is on the end of a telescoping painting pole.

    Sitting at the marina all summer long is an open house for spiders. These sprays even work on spider poo which I think is the secret ingredient in every permanent ink Sharpie.

  6. MaryKate On & Off works wonders on dirty gel coat. We use it to clean our boat whenever we finish a yard period. It’s a spray on rinse off product. Just don’t get any on you!

  7. We use a product called SoftScrub

  8. We are in the process of painting our non skid grey. It pops nicely and makes the whites look whiter and hides the dirt.

  9. After it’s clean use Ultima Wax. A little pricy but a little goes a long way. Waxed car twice, SUV twice, and boat twice. Best thing about it is it’s wax on, wax on, wax on, etc. no WAX OFF.

    Also have used Woody Wax (don’t laugh) on the non-skid portions of my center console boat with good results.

  10. Soft scrub with bleach is on the shelf cleaner at most grocery stores that works the best for us. Try it out, its the best we have tried (ever)

  11. My wife and I have used Starbrite Non-Skid Deck Cleaner for many years on boat painted and gel-coated non-skid. It is simple to use and the results are excellent!

  12. Often bleach only turns mold beige. Better to remove the crud. A few thoughts:

    a. Do you know what the crud is? Mold seems unlikely so I’m not sure bleach is the right answer. Mold is common enough in the north country, but I’ve never noted much on open deck, around seawater, in the summer. Crud from workman’s feet or lime deposits from drying salt spray (seawater is very hard–a weak acid, like Lime-Away or a black streak remover)? Oil (strong degreaser)?

    b. Bleach will streak the bottom paint (oxidizer) and can streak the sides. Same with acids. Get such areas wet first.

    c. Dawn will react with the bleach, weakening the bleach. You’ll be better served by washing soda and perhaps some TSP (but TSP is not too good for the water, so limit the run off).

    d. Borax is bleach compatible and very tough on algae and mold. Harmless to seawater.

    Finish up with bleach, OK, but get rid of the crud first or it can just burn-in the stain. But I would consider starting with CLR (like Lime-Away, but based on lactic acid–I think it is faster and neater, based upon some in-plant testing) since I’m guessing the dirt is crud mixed in with lime and you need to loosen the lime, which bleach will not touch.

    But I’m guessing. Try some spots.

  13. Softscrub is a mild abrasive with bleach in it. Works really well.

  14. The best we have found for cleaning the decks is Oxy Clean Powder. Just wet the area, sprinkle a little powder and scrub with a deck brush, leave for a few minutes and rinse. Nice bright white decks.

  15. On Lake Champlain we are inundated with spiders. They leave droppings on everything. Was using Crazy Klean. In frustration last week went back to good old Soft Scrub with bleach. Still works better than anything, with scrub brush and elbow grease. Six more weeks and heading south. Sure to find new and better sources of dirt.

  16. Another fan of soft scrub with bleach and a long-handled brush. It will continue to whiten for a day or two after you finish scrubbing, so don’t work too hard. You’ll be amazed!

  17. Starbrite ptef deck cleaner is fabulous and all we use now. Also found regular joy with oxyclean tossed in to work great in the past.

  18. Comet Cleanser does the trick. It will not scratch and has bleach in it. I use it everywhere. Very economical. Scrub while wet with a soft brush and let it sit awhile and let the bleach work and rinse.

  19. Not sure about the non-skid.

    The hull on my boat gets a brown tinge from tannins in the bayou that I launch out of.

    I found that Ospho is awesome for whitening my fiberglass and also for getting rid of rust spots on my stainless.

    I use it to clean tools. The leftovers go into an old polypropylene container and I just wipe it onto my hull and stainless. It converts rust into iron phosphate. It just turns my hull bright white.

    The primary ingredient is phosphoric acid. You’ll find it as an ingredient in soft-drinks too, so it’s not toxic, but do use gloves if you try it out because it’s pH is low enough to sting your skin.


    • I do use Ospho for rust removal and in fact, cleaned some rust off my socket set yesterday afternoon. I find that you need to be very careful to rinse it all off the fiberglass though as if you don’t, it can leave a green stain.

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