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Cleaning soiled inflatable


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The best tip I got came from Ishmael a few years back: a thin paste of Oxyclean and a stiff scrub brush. There's still a fair amount of elbow grease involved but it does work.

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30 second  outdoor cleaning solutions works really well on everything.

And for the waterline stains I use toilet bowl cleaner. It instantly kills the organic growth and washes right off. Why bother spending big money on the On Off hull cleaner when it’s the same magic for 10% of the price?!

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Never tried the 30 Seconds stuff but I'd love to know if it'll do the job on the sticky exudate from UV-damaged PVC. That stuff's a bitch to get off.

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Dammit, Beer, that's one solvent I don't already have on hand. I've tried denatured isopropanol (99%), mineral spirits, acetone, and MEK. None of them worked as well as Oxyclean. Have you tried the lacquer thinner yourself? 

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Vim bathroom cleaner was once recommended to me from the local inflatables(meaning they re tubed Protectors/coast guard/larger zodiacs) repair shop.  It works wonders...like any product, test a small spot, and get a feel for how much to use and how hard to scrub as it’s slightly abrasive.

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MEK.

I inherited a medium quality RIB with my last boat. It was in very sad shape cosmetically (and otherwise) - stained, sunburned etc. After I spent a day wiping it down with MEK and then treating it with vinyl conditioner (Armor All in my case) it was transformed into looking about one season old.

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I worked with a guy that worked for Aquapro NZ and does repairs and reconditioning inflatables on the side. He uses Toulene and I have done so myself since. After polishing and protecting it I use a product like Amour all but better. But the name actual name of the product escapes me at the moment. Has good UV protection too.

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303 Protectant is what I was thinking of. Better than Amour All by miles. But if you launch your boat afterward and gun the O/B - careful, you might go out the back it's that slippery! no gooey slippery and no residue but clean and bright. 

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  • 1 month later...
  • 6 months later...

I'm in the process of trying to remove mildew stains that built up over the summer while the boat was covered.  I picked up a kit from WM specifically for inflatables.  So far it hasn't been able to get the worst of the stains. 

Thank you for the suggestions above.  That will be my next option.

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13 minutes ago, Jules said:

I'm in the process of trying to remove mildew stains that built up over the summer while the boat was covered.  I picked up a kit from WM specifically for inflatables.  So far it hasn't been able to get the worst of the stains. 

Thank you for the suggestions above.  That will be my next option.

We've used Barkeepers Friend soft scrub cream with success.  Also, teak cleaner with oxalic acid works incredibly fast, but it tends to run all over the place due to the viscosity.

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Gasoline and a wire brush. Pour it on generously. Rub it in with a wire brush. Throw a match at it.

Seriously, what yachtie lifestyle allows that to happen to a dinghy? I'm a lazy ass drunk yet I scrub the dinghy down at least once a month. Usually in the early morning before the hangover really hits.

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2 hours ago, El Boracho said:

Seriously, what yachtie lifestyle allows that to happen to a dinghy?

If you suggested to any of my friends I was leading a yachtie lifestyle they would probably laugh. 

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On May 19, 2019 at 1:33 PM, sshow bob said:

Anyone have any great tricks for cleaning up a soiled inflatable?  White trim in particular is nasty.

Oh dear! Umm, shouldn't this go directly to inflatable sex toy anarchy?

"White trim in particular is nasty" OMFG! You have a filthy, filthy, filthy mind, and even if that's true (I don't believe it), you should never say it out loud. 

Get help. Aren't you a teacher or something?

B)

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Ishmael taught me the trick of making a paste out of Oxyclean powder and using it to scrub the gook off. Works pretty well but still requires significant elbow grease. If I'm in a hurry and am willing to trade some brain cells for time, I don the butyl gloves, get a sacrificial microfiber cloth, and start pouring the MEK like holy water. 

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I already told you all the best method - MEK.

Requires little more than wiping with a dampened cloth, smooths out nicks & scratches, leave the plastic looking near new.

Just make sure you wear chemical resistant gloves and stay upwind.

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9 hours ago, Cruisin Loser said:

Oh dear! Umm, shouldn't this go directly to inflatable sex toy anarchy?

"White trim in particular is nasty" OMFG! You have a filthy, filthy, filthy mind, and even if that's true (I don't believe it), you should never say it out loud. 

Get help. Aren't you a teacher or something?

B)

Worse than that!  These days I'm ethics counsel for the bar...  Don't tell them!

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7 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

I already told you all the best method - MEK.

Yes, I have used the MEK technique with great results. It does dissolve PVC pretty quick so make sure to not dribble it anywhere. MEK does not seem to be available in normal shops in the USA...A meth precursor in the land of the terminally frightened? I got mine in Mexico.

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A word of caution in using abrasives like scotchbrite etc.  I got all crazy after leaving the dingy in the water one summer when I was working and had it turn into a marine research platform.  I ended up putting micro scratches in the tubes that get algea growth and are a nightmare to clean now.  Was only the aft end of both but it's sucks cleaning it now.

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13 hours ago, Cruisin Loser said:

Oh dear! Umm, shouldn't this go directly to inflatable sex toy anarchy?

"White trim in particular is nasty" OMFG! You have a filthy, filthy, filthy mind, and even if that's true (I don't believe it), you should never say it out loud. 

Get help. Aren't you a teacher or something?

B)

Good point. Maybe it is more appropriate in Shorthanded Anarchy.

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I know this isn't inflatable but for any nasty stuff I can clean outside I always try the pressure washer on it first. It was a balmy 43F degrees here yesterday so I broke mine out.

I once turned an inflatables tubes into somewhat of a gummy mess using solvent trying to clean up years of baked on crud. As Sassafraa said getting too aggressive can make the surface harder to maintain.

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^^^  What's the pink stuff?  What did you use besides the pressure washer?  I have  the same kind of dirt, but about 20x as bad.

For the dinghy, I've used the goop from West or Starbrite, plus a power buffer, which goes pretty quickly.

For Magic Erasers, buy generic melamine sponge in bulk from China.  I got a bunch from eBay.

Melamine sponge is micro-abrasive, and can take the shine off.  But so does weathering, which is why inflatables get dirtier when they're old.

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On 1/16/2020 at 10:06 AM, thereefgeek said:

We've used Barkeepers Friend soft scrub cream with success.  Also, teak cleaner with oxalic acid works incredibly fast, but it tends to run all over the place due to the viscosity.

...

You can get oxalic acid (usually called "wood brightener") dirt cheap at any paint store, and mix it up into a paste if you want. Always wear heavy gloves.

Be quick about removing it once it's done its job. Fairly benign on the ground if you dilute it heavily.

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2 hours ago, blurocketsmate said:

^^^  What's the pink stuff?  What did you use besides the pressure washer?  I have  the same kind of dirt, but about 20x as bad.

For the dinghy, I've used the goop from West or Starbrite, plus a power buffer, which goes pretty quickly.

For Magic Erasers, buy generic melamine sponge in bulk from China.  I got a bunch from eBay.

Melamine sponge is micro-abrasive, and can take the shine off.  But so does weathering, which is why inflatables get dirtier when they're old.

Pink stuff = RV Anti-Freeze. Unrelated to cleaning project.

The following is my theory and could be/probably is all or partly made up but here goes.

No cleaner used with the pressure washer, just water. Things like the non skid are just a bitch to clean no mater what solvent or cleaner you use because of all the nooks and crannies. I think the same holds true on a microscopic scale too. The key to cleaning is the pressure.

Low range units around 1200 PSI are not very useful.

Mid range around 1800 to 2000 PSI (mine is in this category) do a decent job but are somewhat slow and take patience. I think this is the practical upper limit for electric.

High power 3000 PSI and up will clean and do damage if you're not careful. They will remove paint, decals, striping, skin, and etch wood grain but used correctly they make the work  go fast. I believe these pressures are only attainable with gas powered units.

Pretty much the only cleaners I use on the outside of a boat other than soap and water are the pressure washer, Sno-Bol (Hydrochloric acid) Toilet Bowl cleaner on yellowing, Barkeepers on Stainless.

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6 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

Try this.

Especially if you're in an area that gets green slime.

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But in all honesty Sloop I thought that looked familiar. I just looked in under the sink and it is in my wife's WMD locker so I've used it and like it but never committed more than the Clorox portion of the name to one of my few remaining brain cells.

I do remember it worked wonders on a rental car after one of the dogs got sick.

 

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It's more than just bleach - actually the bleach seems to be a pretty small part - hasn't spotted any of my clothes etc.

Spray it on a slime green deck & hull and just leave it or rinse the next day or whatever - works very well.

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Monkey Butler:  thanks for the pressure washer info.  I have access to units up to 3500psi, but I'm afraid of taking the paint off the deck! 

I think you're right about the rest of it.  Scrubbing a whole deck by hand, especially nonskid, is way too much work.  There is a better way.

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1 hour ago, blurocketsmate said:

Monkey Butler:  thanks for the pressure washer info.  I have access to units up to 3500psi, but I'm afraid of taking the paint off the deck! 

I think you're right about the rest of it.  Scrubbing a whole deck by hand, especially nonskid, is way too much work.  There is a better way.

The other factor is flow in GPM. A lot of pressure with low flow will clean but will take longer than if you can get a big honkin washer and dial down the pressure. I wouldn't do my driveway or siding with mine.

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