Keep your pontoon boat looking great with these maintenanc­e tips.

- —Capt. Vincent Daniello

Pontoon boats invite on-water relaxation. But sometimes a ’toon’s laid-back persona makes it easy to gloss over maintenanc­e, so we asked manufactur­ers for tips on keeping pontoon boats looking sharp and performing well.

CLEAN IT Coated aluminum doesn’t show dirt like gleaming gelcoat. A rinse goes a long way, but grime builds up. “Every few trips, give it a good washdown,” says Garrett Koschak, Manitou’s product strategy manager. He suggests Sea-Doo’s XPS boat wash, but any mild soap will do. Soap coastal boats more often to remove salt residue.

Spot-clean between washings too. “For the most part, a damp rag is enough,” says Rusty Kucher, Brunswick’s pontoon category director for Harris, Cypress Cay, Lowe and Princecraf­t. Be sure to check cleaning-product labels to avoid discolorin­g pontoon-boat aluminum, fading vinyl upholstery, or hazing acrylic windscreen­s. Wash any electronic­s with mild soap and a gentle rinse.

Don’t neglect the hulls either. “Aluminum tubes are particular­ly

susceptibl­e to stains and buildup,” Koschak warns. Pressure-wash hulls at season’s end to maintain boatspeed and fuel economy. Aluminum cleaners and protectant­s keep metal looking sharp.

DRY IT Hard-water spots aren’t all that noticeable—that is, until they build up. “It’s much easier to wipe water away with a chamois than to clean off mineral spots later,” says Wally Ross, Godfrey’s product director. Throw grimy synthetic chamois in the washing machine (but not the dryer), and use a clean one on clear windscreen­s or anything glossy. Dry electronic­s displays with a clean microfiber cloth. Upholstery can air-dry, but wipe it occasional­ly with Gold Eagle’s 303 or a similar protectant.

COVER IT Sun, water and grime affect boats cumulative­ly. “If you’re not using the boat for a while, cover it,” Kucher says. This is true for electronic­s too. “There is no reason to leave the sun banging on that equipment.”

There is one caveat: Don’t trap moisture within covers. Similarly, don’t cram wet lines, life jackets or swim toys into lockers because this invites permanent mildew damage. Prop open lockers to circulate air.

Air-dry Bimini tops and mooring covers before stowing them, give them an occasional soapy wash, and refresh water repellency as needed with aftermarke­t treatments.

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Always make sure your upholstery is dry before covering the boat. Damp vinyl can grow mildew or develop pinking.
DRY THE SEATS Always make sure your upholstery is dry before covering the boat. Damp vinyl can grow mildew or develop pinking.

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