How to Clean a Kayak | 3 BASIC STEPS | Kayaks Hub

Cleaning a kayak has always been crucial for longevity and performance. You clean a kayak, which means that you are making sure that your kayak remains in top condition and ready for your next adventure.

By cleaning it, you are also making sure that dirt and grime don’t buildup on the kayak and lead to long-term damage.


Why CLEAN a kayak?

You should clean your kayak regularly due to two reasons:

One is that it helps you avoid costly repairs and prolongs the life of your kayak. A clean kayak, also, performs better on waters, provides safer and enjoyable journey as well. An the other is that it is much more pleasant to use a kayak that looks and smells fresh.

Essential Cleaning Tools and Materials

To clean your kayak, you’ll need a few essential tools and materials. These include:

Recommended Cleaning Solutions and Protectants

It is recommended to use cleaning agents that are specifically intended for kayaks. Do not use strong solutions that may affect the material used in the construction of the kayak. Also, if you apply the UV protectant every now and then, your kayak will not be exposed to the harsh UV rays and thus, its color and quality will be well maintained.

How to Clean the Outside of Your Kayak?

How to Clean a Kayak | 3 BASIC STEPS | Kayaks Hub

Use the three step process to wash the exterior of a kayak in approximately 1 hour:

Total time: 1 Hour approx.

Initial Rinse: Cleaning the Exterior Surfaces

How to Clean a Kayak | 3 BASIC STEPS | Kayaks Hub

The first step should be to wash the kayak with clean water to remove any dirt and debris. Wash the exterior with a hose or a bucket and discard all the loose dirt, sand, and debris. This step is very crucial if you have been paddling in salt water since salt is very destructive to most materials.

Detailed Washing: Soap and Water Technique

How to Clean a Kayak | 3 BASIC STEPS | Kayaks Hub

After the first wash, it is time to wash the kayak with soap that is gentle or one that is used in washing kayaks. Dissolve the soap in water and wash the outer part of the kayak using a bucket and a soft sponge or brush. It is also important to focus more on regions that may be difficult to clean. Do not be too rough to prevent scratching the hull of the kayak.

Final Rinse and Inspection

How to Clean a Kayak | 3 BASIC STEPS | Kayaks Hub

After washing the entire kayak, it is important to wash off the soap with clean water to avoid leaving a film on the plastic. Check the kayak for any remaining dirt or grime and clean those areas again if necessary. Make sure that all soap is washed off in order to avoid any harm that the soap may cause to the outer surface of the kayak.

How to clean the inside of a kayak?

Making the Kayak Ready for Interior Wash

When cleaning the interior of your kayak, you will need to orient your kayak in the correct manner. Lay it on its head on two sawhorses so that you can have full access to the inside of the kayak. If your kayak has the kind of seat that can be detached, then remove the seat to clean the part of the kayak that is usually exposed to dirt.

Cleaning the Interior Surfaces

You can use a hose to wash the interior of your kayak using water that has been boiled and cooled. Do not use dish soap as this can harm the outer layer of the kayak. Rather, use a soft soap that is formulated for kayak use to avoid damaging the surface of your kayak. Using the kayak sponge clean all the inside walls and make sure to clean corners and crevices that are hard to reach.

Rinsing and Drying

After washing, it is important to wash the interior of the kayak with water to wash away the soap that is still on the surface. Make sure that all the dirt, sand, and rocks are removed properly.

Last of all make sure the kayak is thoroughly dried to avoid mold and mildew from developing on the kayak.

Maintaining Kayak Components

Checking and Oiling of the Moving Components

In this connection, it is important to ensure that all the parts that move within the kayak are well maintained. Check the rudder and skeg assemblies for any signs of wear and tear or any signs of damage. Use a dust-free lubricant or WD-40 on all the joints, pedals, and cables to reduce friction.

Monitoring and Replacing Bungee Cords

Inspect every of the bungee cords in your kayak. If they have become rigid, then replace them with new ones. If the ends have become damaged, you should use silicone, hot glue and heat shrink tubing to fix the problem. This will help to prolong the use of the bungee cords and ensure that they are as effective as possible.

Checking for the Cleanliness of Hatch Seals and Foot Pegs

Check for signs of wear on the hatch seals as well as any sign of holes that can let water in. If needed, apply a sealant for the repair of any cracks or other damages. Also, it is advisable to clean the foot peg mechanisms so that you can remove all the grains that may hinder the movement of the pegs.

Protecting Your Kayak

Shielding from UV Radiation

Another crucial aspect of caring for your kayak is to protect it from the destructive ultraviolet rays. Polyethylene is the material used in making most kayaks, and if your kayak is made of this material, then exposure to the sun will degrade the material.

You can use 303 Aerospace Protectant, which is often referred to as ‘sunscreen for your kayak. Apply it on the outer surface of the kayak and on any rubber hatches; reapply when water no longer beads up on the surface.

Marine waxes’ application for composite kayaks

In fiberglass, Kevlar, and composite kayaks, the marine waxes are advisable because they are more appropriate for water use. These products guard less permeable surfaces, strip off oxidation, improve color, and shield the hull from harm.

Always ensure that you get the correct UV protectant that is compatible with the material of your kayak.

Storage Considerations

Proper storage is also another factor that will help you protect your kayak from getting damaged. The best place to store your kayak is in a dry and shaded area, if possible, store it indoors away from direct sunlight and extremely hot or cold temperatures.

The appropriate type of support for the kayak is well-padded brackets or nylon-strap slings, which should be positioned along the bulkheads to ensure equal distribution of weight of kayak. If kept outside, use a good fitting tarp to cover it and make sure the kayak is clean and dry to avoid mold and insects.

Maintaining Kayak Accessories

Cleaning Your Paddle

Of course, you would like your paddle to be in good condition, and therefore cleaning is crucial. Always clean your paddle with fresh water after each use more so if you have been using it in salty waters. Rinse the item in warm water and a mild soap solution to wash off any dirt or grime; it is important that it dries before storing.

How to Clean a Kayak | 3 BASIC STEPS | Kayaks Hub

Personal Flotation Device (PFD) Care

The PFD is important for safety and you should have it with you at all times. After each use, it should be washed with clean water and at times with mild soap. It should then be left to dry in the air and not on any heating source, to avoid formation of mold and mildew.

Cleaning and Maintaining Your Kayak Seat

Take out your kayak seat to ensure it is clean. Wash the surface gently with a mild soap solution and water with extra focus on seams and crevices. Wash it well and allow it to dry before refitting it on your kayak as required.

Kayak Storage Tips

Proper Storage Location

Keep your kayak in a shaded area away from direct sunlight and moisture. If this is not possible, the next best place is a shaded area outside and ensure that the cover used is one that is made for use outside.

Avoiding Sun Damage

Heat from the sun is also bad for your kayak and if your kayak is exposed to the sun for a long time, it will become weak. In case it has to be stored outside, then it should be protected from UV rays by spraying it and covering it with a protective layer.

Storing Accessories

Store equipment such as paddles and PFDs in a dry and secure location. It is important to store all items in a clean and dry environment so as to prevent them from getting spoiled.

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Practices

Water Conservation

When washing your kayak, avoid using a lot of water. It is recommended to use a bucket and a sponge instead of turning the hose on and off continuously to avoid water wastage.

Proper Disposal of Waste

Any cleaning waste should be disposed of in the right manner. Do not allow soapy water to drain into natural water sources to reduce the impact on the environment.


To clean a kayak is not a hectic process when you use the proper way to do it. By cleaning exterior surfaces, using soap and water technique and final rinse, you will get the better results so be creative and enjoy kayaking with neat and tidy kayak. Happy kayaking!


  • David Graham

    Meet David Graham, an avid kayaker based in Florida, USA, who has been mastering the art of kayaking since 2013. As a former trainer with three years of experience, David has shaped the skills of numerous kayakers, sharing his passion for the sport. Living in a state known for its diverse waterways, his expertise and commitment to kayaking go beyond personal pursuits, making him a valuable contributor to the local kayaking community.

    View all posts