The 14 Top boat mold removal techniques

1. Use store bought cleaning solutions dedicated to mold and mildew removal – use as per directions on the bottle. Be careful when using chemicals on a boat. Make sure the boat is very well ventilated and children and pets are not around. Or, better yet, use a natural and less expensive mold and mildew killer… (read on)

2. 3% Hydrogen peroxide solution (diluted to one part hydrogen and three parts water) – Hydrogen peroxide is anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. Talk about killing three birds with one stone! Apply generously with a damp cloth or spray bottle and leave to soak for a while. Wash off with a light soapy water and a soft-bristled brush if necessary. Caution: Hydrogen peroxide can act like a bleach on delicate surfaces.

3. Diluted vinegar – use three parts white vinegar and two parts water. For very bad cases of mold/mildew you can use undiluted vinegar. Add to a spray bottle or use a sponge to cover surfaces. Let it sit for a while to allow the vinegar to kill the mold. Wash with warm water and then consider lightly spraying the surface again to prevent more growth. Leave to dry.

4. Baking soda – In addition to killing mold, baking soda absorbs moisture and keeps mold away. Add ¼ tablespoon of baking soda to a spray bottle full of water and shake. Spray the surface and then use a sponge or soft brush to remove the mold. Rinse the surface with water and then spray again and let the surface dry.

5. Tea Tree oil – this natural essential oil is a powerful natural mold killer; it’s a fungicide. To use this essential oil to kill existing mold and mildew, add ten drops of tea tree oil to one cup of water in a glass spray bottle. Oils don’t react well to plastic therefore a glass spray bottle is preferred. Shake and then spray the mixture onto hard surfaces where mold and mildew are apparent. Let the solution do it’s magic. Use a sponge or soft brush to remove the mold. Spray with the solution and let dry. With repeated use this all-natural cleaner will kill the mold/mildew and help to prevent future growth. Remember to always shake the mixture before you spray as oil and water separate.

6. Grapefruit seed extract essential oil also works well. Follow the same instructions as noted with Tea Tree Oil.

7. Diluted bleach – Dilute it with three parts water. Use a spray bottle to spray, wipe the mold off and then wash with water.

8. Borax – add a half-cup to one cup of borax to a gallon of water. Spray or wipe on the surface and wipe away the mold. Spray solution again on the surface and let dry.

And here are some instructions for specific areas around the boat…

9. Boat mold removal on the deck

While actively using your boat always spray off salt water after a journey. Make sure to spray down the deck, fittings, rigging, sails, mast, hull and anywhere else that salt water may have touched.

If your boat has a teak deck, consider treating it with Borocal at least once a season for mold prevention. Boracol is a chemical that can be used on wood for the management of mold, fungal growth, mildew, slime, dry rot and insect attack.

To get step-by-step instructions and a video on how to use Boracol on a teak deck read Teak Deck Maintenance Using Boracol.

Side note: when laying your boat up for a while it’s common practice to hose the deck down with saltwater. The saltwater will keep the deck damp helping the teak to stay moist.

10. Mold removal boat canvas items

Regularly wash away salt and dirt with fresh water. Consider using a specialty canvas mold cleaner, scrubbing gently with a soft brush if necessary. Rinse with fresh water thoroughly. Remember to retreat canvas with water and stain resistance periodically.

With small canvas items like winch covers a solution of equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water can work well. For larger items, consider a borax solution.

11. Boat mold removal on internal wood

On our wood and headlining’s I always use vinegar and water. It’s easy, vinegar is very inexpensive, there’s no chemicals and it works! The smell of vinegar is annoying for an hour or two but it doesn’t take long for it to disappear. Between cleaning with vinegar I use a wood polish to add life back into the wood.

12. Mold removal in the galley fridge/freezer

Bleach the inside of the freezer and or use a store bought spray that has both bleach and a mold inhibitor.

What many people fail to remember is that mold and mildew has a terrible habit of growing in a fridge/freezer drainpipe. Make sure to run a solution through the pipes to clear out any mold that has formed. A super chlorination mixture can also be used. Use a cork to plug the drainpipe, if not there already, pour the mixture down the pipe and let it sit for a while. After an hour or so, put a 1 gallon or 2 liter plastic jug at the end of the drain pipe and pull the plug. You might then want to run some fresh solution through one last time.

13. Boat mold removal in closets

Ultimately, if you are able to do so, keep your closets open so air can circulate. If you’re not using the boat, remove any bedding, towels or fabric items as these tend to collect moisture.

If you are on the boat, however, you can purchase chemical dehumidifiers to put in closets prone to moisture. The following DampRid product can be used for larger areas but there are also smaller products good for closets. Aside from Amazon, these dehumidifiers can be found at large hardware/lumber stores.

DamRid chemical dehumidifier

14. Boat mold removal in items kept in storage

Every autumn I take my summer clothes and put them in a vacuum bag. Once they’re in the bag I put them in the bilge and pray that the vacuum seal keeps and the moister and mold stays out. From time to time I’ve had the unfortunate situation where some of my clothes were ruined beyond repair.

So…what I do now is use smaller vacuum bags so that if one bag goes it’s not a total disaster. And in each bag I add a 30gram ‘Dry & Dry’ Silica Gel Desiccant sachet.