Are you going out on your first kayaking adventure in your new boat? Congratulations! Welcome to the wonderful world of kayaking. When the experience is over, it’s time to load the kayak and head home, but what about the maintenance on your boat?
Maintaining your kayak ensures its longevity, extending its service life. A well-maintained kayak has better glide, handling, and performance than a neglected boat. So, how do you keep your kayak in tip-top shape?
This post unpacks everything you need to know about cleaning and waxing your kayak. We’ll throw in some maintenance tips and even give you an easy method for maintaining your inflatable kayak. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
- Kayak Maintenance Explained – Cleaning, Waxing, and Detailing
- What are the Benefits of Waxing Your Kayak?
- Supplies for Cleaning and Waxing Your Kayak
- How to Maintain a Kayak – A Step-by-Step Guide
- How to maintain an Inflatable Kayak
- Cleaning and Maintaining Your Kayak – Learning to Make Basic Repairs
- How To Wax A Kayak – Key Takeaways
Kayak Maintenance Explained – Cleaning, Waxing, and Detailing
Cleaning your kayak is essential for its performance and extending its service life. Regardless of whether you have a saltwater or freshwater kayak, you need to maintain it properly if you want it to last. Cleaning your kayak keeps it in great shape, and you’ll get a better resale price for it if you ever want to sell it.
Washing the hull removes the “fouling” that builds up across the kayak’s underside. Fouling creates more drag on the kayak, increasing your paddling effort. Cleaning off the fouling improves the kayak’s acceleration, speed, and performance.
Cleaning your kayak removes all the debris from inside the cockpit, getting rid of grit and grime before it can build up and cause problems. All you need is a wash from time to time, and your kayak will always look great.
We recommend you only use environmentally-friendly and environmentally sustainable cleaning products. Avoid using cleaning products with harsh chemicals.
Remember, the cleaning products eventually drain out into the lake or ocean and contaminate the ecosystems near the shore. Do your part and spend a few cents extra to buy environmentally-friendly cleaning products for your kayak.
Maintaining the deck and hull of your kayak is important. Waxing and polishing the hull helps reduce surface friction on the water, improving the glide of the kayak while reducing paddling effort. Waxing is as important as cleaning and maintaining your kayak, but you don’t have to do it as frequently.
- A combination of the Cool & Cold formulas, allowing sticky grip in a wider range of water temperatures
- Four boxed wax bars included.
- Boxed individually for clean transport and easy access
- Easy to apply
- fresh from the factory
- original formula
- six 80 gram bars
- for use above 69 degrees Fahrenheit
- SURFING: Keep your surfboard waxed with the best for superior control with cutting through heavy sections.
- BODYBOARDING: Don't slip when that next air reverse section comes your way.
- SKIMBOARDING: Full speed and no slippage when your feet hit the deck.
What are the Benefits of Waxing Your Kayak?
So, why clean, wax, and detail your kayak in the first place? I mean, it’s in the water all the time, right? So, why would you need to clean it? Here are the top benefits of conducting proper maintenance on your kayak.
- Cleaning, waxing, and detailing your kayak improves its service and longevity.
- You’ll maintain the quality and color of the paint job on the kayak.
- Waxing and polishing the hull improves glide and performance in the water.
- Waxing and polishing the hull helps you remove scratches and scrapes.
- Waxing and polishing the hull improves its condition and the kayak’s resale value.
It makes sense to take care of your kayak. It’s an expensive piece of equipment, and it deserves your attention.
Supplies for Cleaning and Waxing Your Kayak
So, what do you need to keep your kayak in great shape? We recommend picking up the following materials.
- A set of microfiber cloths.
- Chamois leather.
- Pressure washer (optional)
- Marine-grade cleaner (biodegradable and environmentally-friendly).
- Orbital polisher and head covers (optional).
- Marine-grade carnauba wax.
- UV protectant spray.
- Metal protectant spray.
You can find everything you need to clean, wax, polish, and detail your kayak on Amazon. Amazon has a great range of marine-grade products at the best prices.
How to Maintain a Kayak – A Step-by-Step Guide
Here’s our step-by-step guide to maintaining your kayak. Follow these guidelines and get your boat back in showroom condition.
Step 1 – Light Rinse
After pulling the kayak from the water, rinse it with fresh water. This rule applies to freshwater and saltwater kayaking applications. Rinsing directly after use isn’t as critical as for saltwater kayaking applications.
Saltwater is aggressively corrosive, and leaving it on your kayak may find it rusting hardware on the boat if you let the salt dry instead of rinsing it off with fresh water. However, it’s still important to rinse a freshwater kayak. Letting the freshwater dry on the boat increases the build-up of fouling on the underside of the hull.
The fouling will eventually interfere with the kayak’s performance, so rinse it off. If you’re going somewhere with no water source, take a gallon of fresh water from the tap at home and leave it in your truck. Use it to rinse the boat when you finish your kayaking session.
Step 2 – Wash
You’ll need to rinse the boat after every use. However, it only requires a proper cleaning every three to five sessions or when especially dirty for some reason. Take your marine-grade cleaning solution and mix it with warm water to clean the kayak.
Soak your cloth and wring them out. Wash the boat dipping the cloth in the water every now and again to remove the dirt. If the kayak is severely muddy, dip the cloth in the bucket frequently. Rubbing sand into the hull scratches the paint.
Wash the cockpit as well as the hull and sides of the boat. If you have an ocean-going kayak with a fish compartment, wash it out after every use to prevent it from smelling. If you have an aftermarket seat, detach it from the kayak and machine-wash the cover separately.
If you have a Pressure washer at home, you can use it to rinse and wash the kayak, saving you time. Some pressure washers feature compartments where you can add your cleaning chemicals, and it foams up the boat for your pre-washing.
You also have options for electric portable pressure washers you can keep in the trunk of your car for post-kayaking rinses.
Step 3 – Rinse and Dry
Keep washing until the kayak is clean, and then rinse it with fresh water. We recommend cleaning the kayak in the shade to reduce watersports and prevent the paint from fading. After the rinse, wipe it down with your microfiber cloth or chamois leather, and you’re done.
Step 4 – Waxing
After the kayak is dry, it’s time to start the waxing and polishing process. Ensure you’re in a shady area when applying the wax to the hull. Never wax the hull in direct sunlight. The liquid wax dries on the hull and becomes nearly impossible to polish out.
The last thing you want is your hull full of polishing marks because you could get the wax off the boat. You’ll find it hard to remove dry wax even when using an orbital polishing machine, and in some cases, machine-polishing hardened wax could damage the paint.
So, after moving to the shade, you have two options for applying the wax – by hand or by machine. We recommend doing it by machine for the best results for your kayak. Purchase a small handheld orbital polisher from an online retailer like Amazon.
The polisher comes with a polishing head and three or four soft covers. One of the covers is specifically for applying wax. Add your liquid carnauba marine-grade polish to the polisher head, and apply it to the hull.
The idea is to cover the hull, not polish it. Do a quick once over with the wax and leave it to dry for ten minutes.
Step 5 – Polishing
After it’s dry, change the polisher head to a polishing cover and work your way around the hull, polishing off the wax. The orbital polisher should fit in your palm comfortably. Press lightly against the hull, don’t add too much pressure, or you might damage the paint.
Polish the wax off using a circular motion. Complete the polishing motion until you notice the head starts to clog and leave wax behind. Change the cover and continue until you complete the entire hull.
You’ll find the wax polishes off easily, leaving you with an incredible shine. You’ll swap out the cover every time they start to clog with wax. Depending on the size of the kayak, it could take you two to four covers to polish out the hull. Fortunately, these covers are machine washable and cheap to replace. Wash them out after every use.
You don’t need to wax and polish the hull after every wash, although nothing is stopping you if you choose to do so. However, we recommend polishing the hull after every five to ten sessions at the lake or every third session in ocean conditions.
If you don’t have an orbital polisher, we recommend investing in one. It’s affordable and will save you hours waxing and polishing your kayak every season. However, if you want to do it by hand, make sure you apply the wax and polish it off using microfiber cloths.
Using regular cloths may scratch the paintworks and ruin the gel coat finish on the hull. Make sure you hand polish in wide circles and change when the fibers start to clog.
- The item is not returnable
- Protects against harmful UV light rays
- Non-yellowing, permanent coating
- Moisture resistant
- Dries in minutes
- ULTIMATE PROTECTION – 303 Marine Aerospace Protectant provides superior protection against the sun's damaging UV rays. This protector spray repels dust, dirt, and staining while also helping to prevent fading and cracking, to keep marine surfaces looking newer, longer.
- NON-GREASY – This restoration product dries to a smooth, matte finish with no oily or greasy residue. When treating your boat, canoe, kayak, or any other watersports toy, trust 303 Marine Aerospace Protectant to keep your prized possession looking like new.
- VERSATILE – This multi-purpose detailing spray restores and maintains a like-new appearance, texture, and color on a variety of surfaces including vinyl, plastic, synthetic and natural rubber, PVC, metal, gel coat, fiberglass, stainless steel, and more. Apply every 3 – 5 weeks for maximum UV protection.
- DIRECTIONS – Use only on clean, dry surfaces. For best results, use 303 Multi-Surface Cleaner to prep the surface. Place a drop cloth under the item to be treated to catch any overspray. Out of direct sun, spray product on surface and wipe completely dry with a clean, dry microfiber towel. Product can also be sprayed onto microfiber towel or applicator and applied to surface. If streaking occurs, too much product has been used. Use a wet towel to remove excess, and immediately wipe dry.
- SHELF LIFE – All 303 Products are good for use up to 2 years from the bottle fill date which can be found as a Julian Date being a 5-digit number on the back of the bottle and is read as YYDDD. YY indicates the last two digits of the year of production, and DDD represents the number of the day of that year of production. Proudly made in the USA by a family-owned company in Chicago, Illinois.
- 303 UV Protectant brightens surfaces and keeps them looking newer, longer. This formula provides superior UV protection for any rubber, finished leather, plastic, vinyl, eisenglass, PVC, gel coat & fiberglass surfaces. Not for use on unfinished leathers (such as suede), fabrics (canvas) or floorings.
Step 6 – Applying UV and Metal Protectant
After you finish the polish, you can purchase some UV protectant spray to safeguard the color and decals on your hull. These marine-grade protectants are available in a spray can format and are easy to apply. After finishing the waxing, spray the deck with the UV protectant and leave it to dry.
We also like spraying all hardware with metal protectants, especially if you’re using your kayak in the ocean. Look for marine-grade steel and aluminum protectant sprays. Treat the hardware on your kayak after each detailing session.
That’s it, you’re done. It’s time to go and have an ice-cold beverage. You’ve earned it.
Step 7 – Don’t Forget the Roof Racks
Remember to give your roof racks and “J-cradle” carrier a wash from time to time. Lubricate the joints in the J-cradle and the hardware on the roof racks to keep it in smooth working order.
How to maintain an Inflatable Kayak
Inflatable kayaks don’t require nearly as much maintenance as hard-shell models. However, they need basic care if you want to extend their service life.
The reality is inflatables feature design and construction with plastic materials and welded seams. They only have so many inflations and deflations before those seams give way and require repair.
So, the first tip is to never over-inflate your kaya. Most models come with Boston valves, making the boat easy to inflate. Around these values, you’ll see inflation lines acting as indicators of optimal inflation levels.
Never overinflate the kayak, and don’t use it underinflated either. Underinflation reduces performance and also places pressure on the welded seams. After you finish your kayaking adventure, drain the cockpit and rinse the kayak with fresh water. Let it dry in the sun and wipe it down with a cloth.
Make sure the kayak is dry before packing it away. Packing away a damp boat in the carry bag provides the perfect environment for mold growth. Pulling a moldy kayak out of the bag the following summer is a great way to start your lake vacation.
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Kayak – Learning to Make Basic Repairs
Eventually, you’ll come across a problem where your kayak experience damage to the hull. There are plenty of YouTube videos explaining hull repair methods.
Unless you have extensive structural damage to your hull, it’s better to try and fix it yourself. You’ll save a huge amount of money by adopting a DIY approach to minor repairs.
How To Wax A Kayak – Key Takeaways
- Maintaining your kayak extends its service life.
- It’s easy to do and only requires an hour of your time for the whole job.
- It’s worth the investment in time to save yourself on early kayak replacement costs.
- Use high-quality marine-grade cleaning products for maintaining your kayak.
- Rinse the kayak after every use.
- Clean and wax a few times a season when necessary.
- Never apply wax in the sun.
- Get yourself an orbital polisher to reduce effort and time waxing the kayak.
- Learn how to conduct basic maintenance on your kayak and save money on repairs.
- Never pack a damp kayak into a carry bag.