Cleaning Aluminium Boat with Vinegar

Cleaning Aluminium Boat with Vinegar (Good or Bad Idea?)

Cleaning your boat is a very vital step in the maintenance of your boat.

There is a load of fancy boat cleaners which promise the best results. However, there’s one DIY solution which works a whole lot better than the rest, especially of aluminium boats.

I can tell you straight away that vinegar is one of the best solutions to cleaning aluminium on your boat.

Vinegar is very effective in cleaning aluminium boats.

In this article, I’ll give you an overview of how to use vinegar to clean your boat. It’s not as simple as pouring some vinegar on your boat and scrubbing. There’s a technique to using vinegar properly.

How to Use Vinegar to Clean an Aluminium Boat

Dilute your vinegar with water. You want a 50/50 ratio of vinegar and water. For best results, use distilled water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and give your boat a good spray. Let the mixture sit on the boat for a minute before wiping it away with a towel.

You don’t want to let vinegar sit on aluminium for too long. If you leave it for too long, the vinegar can cause corrosion and therefore damaging your aluminium.

If you do this correctly, you’ll find that cleaning an aluminium boat with vinegar works rather well.

Required Equipment

There’s not a heap of equipment you’ll need. And most of which you’ve likely already got somewhere on your boat or at home.

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Towel/Rag
  • Spray Bottle

Simple Steps to Cleaning an Aluminium Boat with Vinegar

  1. Wash Dirt Off Aluminium: Firstly, you’ll need to wash any dirt laying on the aluminium off. Just use some soapy water and a sponge or a rag. This will clean off a lot of the dirt however this is only the first step, there will still be a lot more dirt and smears left.
  2. Create Vinegar and Water Mix: As previously mentioned, you should use a 50/50 ratio mix of water and vinegar. It’s important to dilute the vinegar so that it doesn’t damage your boat. You should use distilled water when possible however this isn’t mandatory. Though, you should avoid using salt water at all costs.
  3. Spray Your Aluminium with The Mix: Pour the water and vinegar mixture into a spray bottle and give it a little shake. Now begin to spray the mixture all over your aluminium. Leave it on for about a minute but not much longer. This is enough time for the vinegar to soak into the dirt but not enough time to damage your boat.

Now that your aluminium boat is now completely clean, you could take your boat to the next level by painting it. If you’re ready to renovate your old boat and make it look brand new again then see my guide on How to Paint an Aluminum Boat.

Why Does Vinegar Work So Well on Aluminium?

It’s true that vinegar is an effective cleaner on aluminium. This applies for all aluminium objects, not just boats. Vinegar can be used to clean old aluminium pots from your kitchen. Alkaline-based substances like laundry powder will not clean aluminium. Only acid-based substances like vinegar will.

So why is this?

Vinegar works well for cleaning due to how acidic it is. This acidity counteracts build-ups and therefore is one of the best methods to get rid of stubborn stains. This makes vinegar an effective homemade aluminium boat cleaner.

What Vinegar Won’t Clean

Vinegar has amazing cleaning properties, however there are a few things that vinegar won’t clean and things that you should avoid using vinegar on.

Firstly, vinegar will not fix scuff marks on your boat. It’s a great cleaner but it’s not a miracle worker. There’s no chance of vinegar being able to fix damage that’s already been done to your boat.

Another thing that vinegar won’t get rid off is barnacles. It may soften them and make them easier to remove however it won’t dissolve them and there are much better methods of dealing with barnacles. I’d recommend using a solid pressure washer to jet them off your boat.

Vinegar won’t remove decals from your boat. Therefore it’s not a good method for getting rid of unwanted decal designs. I have a guide which explains how to remove decals from your boat.

Don’t use vinegar on granite or marble countertops. The acid in the vinegar will corrode the surface of the countertop and thus causing discoloration. Just use some damp tissue or a towel, this will be enough.

Avoid using vinegar on hardwood floors at all costs. Similarly, to countertops, the acid will eat away at the surface and thus causing your floor to lose its shine.

Don’t use soap and vinegar together. Vinegar is acidic whereas soap is an alkaline, this means that when put together, they neutralize each other and thus rendering them useless. I recommend using soap on your boat first then washing it off thoroughly before spraying it with vinegar.

Better Solution Than Vinegar

Vinegar and water should be enough in most circumstances when it comes to cleaning and aluminium boat. However, this doesn’t mean that there’s not a better solution.

Vinegar and water are a good solution if you don’t have the spare cash for a proper cleaning product. But the mixture will struggle against tough stains. Every now and then you may have a stubborn stain which just won’t come out.

As I’ve mentioned previously, it’s very important not too leave the vinegar mixture on your boat for too long as it will eventually begin to corrode your aluminium. So, if you’ve got a tough stain that is taking too long to remove, you run the risk of damaging your boat.

Because of this, it’s always better to get a specialist product.

Even I’ve moved on from using vinegar and have now purchased a much better product.

The answer is, Boat Bling Hot Sauce.

Boat Bling Hot Sauce Premium Hard Water Spot Remover w/High-Gloss Wax Sealants,...
  • Ultimate hard water spot remover with high gloss wax sealants
  • Bio-degradable, safe, soft-water based detailer; spray on, wipe off...
  • Removes hard water spots, scum line, and exhaust residue
  • Will NOT strip your current wax, adds additional wax sealants with...

This is an outstanding product, capable of removing the toughest of stains from your aluminium boat. This is the ultimate hard water spot remover.

Simply spray it on your boat and wipe it off.

This is completely safe to use and will not strip your wax, in-fact it adds additional wax sealant with every use. This is a huge benefit over the use of vinegar. Vinegar will not provide any additional wax to your boat, whereas Boat Bling will leave your boat shinier than ever before.

Boat Bling is suitable for all watercrafts such as pontoon boats, jet skis, cruisers, etc. It also works great for land-based vehicles such as motorcycles, RV’s and camper vans.

Before you know it, you’ll be begging for more of the stuff. I’d recommend you also purchase the Gallon Refill. Once you have this you’ll be good for a very long time.

Boat Bling have a wide range of other products, so I’d recommend that you give their store on Amazon a peak.

For example, they also have a product for cleaning vinyl and leather interiors, the product is called Boat Bling Vinyl Sauce. This product works amazing on your boat’s seats.      

I highly recommend their products, I’ve got a lot of them because they work perfectly on my boat. I’ve never used such an outstanding product.

After vinegar failed to get rid of a tough stain on my pontoon, I purchased Boat Bling Hot Sauce and ever since I’ve fallen in love with it. I now have a squeaky-clean boat all year round.


In conclusion, vinegar will work well for cleaning your aluminium boat.

It acts as a strong homemade aluminium boat cleaner.

It’s a very inexpensive product that you likely already have in your home. Therefore, I’d give it a go and see how well it works on your boat.

If you use it correctly and don’t leave it on for too long, then it’s completely safe to use.                         

Vinegar will struggle with tough stains and may not always give the best results.

If you have some spare cash, then it may be better to purchase a specialist product for your boat. The product I’d recommend is Boat Bling as mentioned above.

It offers so much value for such a little price.

It provides so many benefits that vinegar doesn’t offer. In the end of the day, the choice really comes down to your budget. If you can afford to spend a few bucks, go with Boat Bling. If you’ve literally got no spare money or just need a quick fix, go with vinegar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *