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Winter Maintenance Tips

Winter Maintenance Tips


Generally, the winter months in Queensland tend to be drier, with fewer storms and the colder weather reduces the amount of time spent out on the water. This provides an excellent opportunity to undertake maintenance for your covers, clears and upholstery.

CLEARS – Clears should be cleaned regularly with a mild detergent or Imar Protective Cleaner, making sure to thoroughly rinse off all traces salt, dirt and detergent.  Removing your clears altogether and lying them on a flat surface, with a clean sheet underneath to prevent scratching, enables you to give them a polish on both sides and have them looking new again.

Many products can be used to remove small scratches, before applying either Imar Polish or Vuplex to restore a protective layer. Use a fresh microfibre cloth, or one that is completely free of dust and contaminants to apply the polish.

Zips – They can be difficult to clean but removing them from the boat simplifies the task. Try using a soft toothbrush with either Jif or Gumption to treat any mould patches, but make sure you wipe or wash it off completely once finished. Be careful not to abraid the stitching if possible and, obviously, avoid scratching the clears.

After cleaning, re-lubricate the zip by applying a specialised zipper lubricant, or food-grade silicone spray on a cloth to avoid getting chemicals on your clears. Zipper lubricants have a fine nozzle to spread lubricant over the zip, which will then seep in when you run the zip.

Longevity – The life span of clears is around 5 years if they are regularly cleaned and polished.

If your clears are looking past their use by date, winter is a great time to have them re-made, as the drier weather makes it easier for Trimmers to pattern, and they will look fabulous for the warmer months.

There are three grades of clears – calendared clear (commonly known as Rollclear), extruded clear (Rollglass) and pressed polished sheet clear (for instance, Strataglass). The difference in the three grades is mostly the clarity, with Premium Rollglass and Strataglass leading the pack in longevity.

Stitching – Cleaning stitching is tricky, and the best advice is use warm soapy water. Consider requesting a UV-inert PTFE thread if you are having your clears re-made.

BIMINIS AND COVERS – Biminis made from boat hooding, such as Mariner, can be cleaned with a mild detergent, or an Imar cleaner, making sure to rinse thoroughly. A soft-bristled brush can be used to remove stubborn dirt. Using IMAR Protective Spray every 2 to 3 months after cleaning will inhibit UV degradation and maintain the suppleness of the vinyl.

Clean surfaces provide the best defence against mould. The presence of mould indicates that your canvas bimini could be losing its waterproofing, or is pooling water, which should be addressed during these drier months. Canvas biminis should be washed using a mild detergent in conjunction with a soft brush. Mouldy spots can be treated with diluted Domestos. If you intend to use something stronger, like bleach, it would be advisable to remove bimini top and clean it on the jetty to avoid splashing bleach on your clears or upholstery.

If your bimini or cover is letting water through, there are many products available to rewaterproof them. For bimini tops and clears that zip together, it may be best to treat them simultaneously, to prolong the life of your bimini until your clears need redoing.

Fittings – Now is the time to check out any fittings on your covers – press studs, toggles, bungee loops – whatever combination you have on your covers – as having properly working fittings is a must.

Press studs can be lubricated with silicone spray or Vaseline – and use a cotton bud to get under the lip of the durables on the cover side. Check that toggles are working properly and that bungees still have elasticity and don’t require replacing.

UPHOLSTERY – For exterior vinyl upholstery, a warm mild detergent is generally all that is needed to get it looking like new. If you need to use a stronger cleaner, treat a small inconspicuous patch first. Use a vinyl protector afterwards to keep it looking great.

Note that different vinyls have different recommendations for cleaning and often this is difficult to determine if you purchased your boat second hand.

For exterior furniture fabrics, it is important to identify the type of material prior to cleaning. Many fabrics will react badly to being steam or dry cleaned, so it is best to clean them according to the manufacturer’s requirements.

For interior upholstery it is again important to identify the material used. Leather and vinyl may look similar, but each has different needs when it comes to looking after them properly. Your cushions (particularly backrest cushions) often open with a zipper, and you can generally tell the type of fabric from its backing.

For all your upholstery, check for any loose or broken stitching and have this repaired before it becomes an issue. Splits in the vinyl or fabric may not be repairable but its best check before it gets worse.




Published in print July-September 2021

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