How to Easily Clean a Pontoon Boat on a Trailer
When it’s time to winterize your pontoon boat, one of the most important things to do is to remove all the filthy grime from the hull.
However, cleaning a pontoon boat on a trailer can be challenging since you need to lift it to access the underneath and shine up the tubes. Many pontoon boat owners feel lazy about cleaning the pontoons thoroughly.
It doesn’t have to be this hard, though. I’ll show you an effective way to raise your pontoon boat effortlessly and give it a good clean on the trailer.
How to Clean a Pontoon Boat on a Trailer: Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Lay Some Tarpaulins on the Ground
You first need to set some tarpaulins on the ground to protect the grass or the surface you intend to clean the boat on.
This step is crucial because most boat cleaners contain acids that can dry the grass, ruin the floor, or kill living organisms on the ground, especially if you are doing it in a yard.
However, if you are working with a safe product for the grass or the ground and its components, you can skip this step and start with the next one.
Step 2: Drive the Trailer to Set It over the Tarpaulins
Once you set up the protective tarps on the ground, back up the boat’s trailer so it sits on the covered ground. Then block the trailer’s wheels to prevent any movement.
Ensure you find an area with enough water supply, preferably pressure water, for effective cleaning. You don’t want to move the trailer only to realize that you are in the wrong position and have to re-set the tarpaulins again.
Step 3: Lift the Pontoon Boat
Lift your pontoon boat to about 6 to 8 inches high to create more room for effectively cleaning underneath the hull.
You don’t want to go beyond 8 inches as this would result in damages should the boat fall while you are cleaning it.
If you are wondering how to lift your pontoon boat off the trailer, here is a quick way to do it:
- Ensure that the trailer is on an even surface that cannot cause any sliding.
- Elevate the transom by lowering the trailer’s front side.
- Use wooden/cinder blocks to keep the transom high. To protect your pontoons from damage or to cause dents, you can place a wooden plank between the boat and the blocks.
- Raise the front side of the trailer using a bottle jack until you achieve an even position. Alternatively, raise the boat to ensure that the bow is slightly higher than the stern for even weight distribution.
- Place blocks (about three blocks) under the bow to keep the boat raised. Again, use a wooden plate between the boat and blocks to protect the tubes.
- Lower the hydraulic jack and remove it, leaving the trailer under the boat. You want your boat to have the trailer support should the blocks collapse.
While this pontoon boat lifting method is perfectly safe, it can be dangerous and could ruin your boat when done wrongly.
For this method to work, you must arrange the blocks correctly and protect the boat with a wooden plate. If you are working with cinder blocks, be sure to lay them correctly and stay away from cracked ones.
Step 4: Clean the Pontoon Boat
The next thing to do is choose a cleaning method that suits your boat and will not harm the trailer.
Depending on the nature of the grime on the pontoons, you can use commercial products or homemade cleaning solutions like vinegar and baking soda.
Commercial products are available in various formulas, including liquid, gel, powder, and concentrate.
I love using liquid and gel cleaners since they come ready to use, easing the cleaning work. Most cleaners also come with a spray bottle for easy and quick application.
Let’s discuss some of the effective methods for boat cleaning to help you decide which one to use:
1. Vinegar and Water
White vinegar is a versatile ingredient that I use to clean different parts of my pontoon boat, and it works magic, particularly on the exterior.
Since it contains acetic acid that helps remove oxidation, water spots, and discoloration, you can use it to restore your pontoon boat.
To clean your pontoon boat using this method, mix one cup of white vinegar with a gallon of water. For extreme stains, you can reduce the water and use more vinegar.
Then pour the vinegar-water solution into a spray bottle to apply on the pontoon boat. Let the vinegar solution sit on the boat for a minute or two before wiping.
2. Baking Soda and Water
Baking stain is effective when cleaning the boat and removing mild stains and water spots.
To use this method, mix baking soda and water in a bowl to make a cleaning paste. You can also add a few drops of dishwashing soap. Then apply the paste to the boat, scrub with a soft bristle brush, and wipe or rinse with water.
3. Commercial Boat Cleaners
There are many boat cleaning products in the market. However, not all of them are effective for cleaning pontoon boats. Some cleaners are too weak to act on the stains, while others are too strong that they lead to discoloration and can damage the aluminum.
Some of the best cleaners I’ve used on my pontoon boat include Star Brite Aluminum Cleaner, Boat Bling Boat Hot Sauce Cleaner, and Meguiar’s Ultimate Marine Cleaner.
I love using the Star Brite Aluminum Cleaner as it’s easy to use, works on the grime quickly, and doesn’t require any scrubbing to remove oxidation and stains. It does not harm the aluminum but leaves it with an improved appearance.
Bling Boat Hot Sauce Cleaner works well for tough water spots as it’s specifically formulated to remove mineral build-up from boats, cars, RVs, and more.
The Meguiar’s Ultimate Marine Cleaner is a cost-effective gel formula that works excellently on pontoon boats. It removes stains and prevents water spots, giving aluminum pontoons a lasting shine. You will love its smell too!
You can also buy an aluminum brightener from a local store and follow the instructions carefully to clean your aluminum pontoon boat. Many boaters have had great results with the Napa Aluminum Brightener, which is available in local Napa automotive stores.
If you are dealing with excess build-up, you can wet-sand the boat with sandpaper to give it a new look.
Boat owners use other methods to clean the boat’s exterior, including Muriatic Acid, toilet bowl cleaner, and AC Coil Cleaner. These methods are effective, but I don’t always recommend them because a small mistake can leave you with a damaged hull. They are too strong for aluminum toons.
Step 5: Rinse the Pontoon Boat and Trailer with Clean Water
When you finish applying your preferred cleaner to the pontoon boat, wait for the recommended time and rinse the boat and trailer with clean water.
In this case, a pressure washer is the best way to rinse off the cleaner and the dissolved grime from the pontoon boat and trailer.
When using a cleaner with strong acid and harsh chemicals, you should hose the trailer properly, as any acid left could damage the trailer.
If you notice any stubborn stains left after the first application, you can re-apply the cleaner on the stained areas, wait for a few minutes, and wipe with a towel or rinse again.
So far, your pontoon boat should be shiny and looking new again. You can pat it dry and apply a marine-grade protective coating.
Q: How Do You Clean Pontoons on a Trailer?
A: To clean your boat’s pontoons, lift the boat off the trailer. This way, you’ll have access to the underneath of the hull for quick and effective cleaning. You can use a hydraulic bottle jack to lift the boat off the trailer and support it with blocks.
Once you lift the boat, choose a safe cleaning method and shine up your boat. Then rinse the boat and trailer with clean water to get rid of the cleaner.
Q: What Should You Use to Raise a Pontoon Boat Temporarily?
A: You can use cinder or wooden blocks to raise your pontoon boat on a trailer. However, you must be careful when using these blocks because the boat may fall if you arrange the blocks incorrectly. It also helps to place a wooden plank between the blocks and the boat to protect the tubes from damage.
Q: How Do You Remove Mineral Build-Up from a Pontoon Boat?
A: You can remove mineral build-up from your pontoon boat using vinegar, baking soda, or commercial boat cleaners.
Vinegar and baking soda work for mild mineral build-up. Mix any of them with water, apply them to the hull, wait for a few minutes, and rinse the boat using a pressure washer.
However, you’ll need to invest in commercial cleaners if you are dealing with heavy oxidation and extreme mineral build-up that has sat on the hull for a longer time. That said, Star Brite and Boat Bling provide some of the best cleaners for boats.
Overall, the best way to keep your pontoon boat clean and looking new is by pressure washing it to remove any dirt, algae, and mineral immediately after getting it out of the water.
If you leave your pontoon boat to sit in the yard unwashed for several days, dirt and grime will stick to the hull. This will require a strong boat cleaner or scrubbing to remove the build-up.
Q: Can You Pressure Wash Pontoons?
A: Yes, you can pressure wash the pontoons of your boat. Pressure washing the pontoon tubes when you get the boat out of the water will help prevent mineral and algae build-up.
It will also remove any dirt and filth that may otherwise accumulate on the surface and ruin your boat’s aesthetics.
Your pontoon boat deserves to look good in and out of season. After all, it serves you well and makes your summer days enjoyable and memorable.
While it’s easy to maintain the furniture and clean the boat’s interior, shining up the hull can be challenging as you need to lift the boat to access the underneath. Luckily, we have shared an easy yet effective method to lift your boat and clean it effortlessly.
Whichever cleaning method you choose, follow the instructions carefully and pressure wash the boat and trailer after removing grime and stains. Remember, if you leave any acid or chemicals on the trailer, they might damage its polish and cause corrosion.