Detailing tips: Boats vs. vehicles - Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Detailing tips: Boats vs. vehicles

One detailer reveals his methods, and the differences, when detailing each vehicle.

In this article I will discuss the differences involved in detailing a boat versus detailing a car. There are some common elements to both however there also are some differences. I will also discuss some do’s and don’ts.


  1. The very first thing that should be done is to wash the boat.
  2. Remove hard water stains by using a spray bottle with vinegar and water. Vinegar is effective at not only removing water stains but also extra residue left from the boat cleaner.
  3. Waxing the boat should, ideally, be done on a monthly basis. There might be a little oxidation but most waxes will take care of it. If the boat is not being waxed monthly, then a restorer wax may need to be used. Apply the wax by using a store application and apply it in a circular motion. It can be left for up to an hour or two. The longer it stays on, the more effective it will be.
  4. Use an electric buffer to remove the wax. Hand-removal is also an option but might take a long time depending on the size of the boat. Of course, there will be spots you are going to have to manually remove the way. Make sure to apply a firm, but not aggressive amount of pressure. The main thing to keep in mind here is that you are not taking the wax OFF. Instead, you are rubbing it into the gel coat of the boat. Rub in circles in 10 second intervals.
  5. Wipe off any excess wax.

The inside of the boat can be detailed in much the same way as you might go about detailing a car which I will discuss shortly.


  • Use a polisher/sander to get better/faster results. Do exercise caution, however, since you might rub off the clear coat if not careful.
  • Use the same brand for washing and buffing your boat.
  • Store your boat out on a lake when doing this.
  • Buff the boat once per month and if not then every two months.
  • Wax/buff the topside and any exposed decks.
  • Keep in mind the amount of time you might spend detailing a boat. Some (50-plus feet) might take days and others a few hours.


  • Wash/wax/buff over hairline cracks or damage. Repair it first.
  • Use a polisher/buffer. It will take too long and you might not like the results.


  1. Wash the car and completely dry all nooks and crannies. This will help later on when waxing. Again, I like any Meguiar product(s).
  2. Clean the wheels using Wheel Cleaner. Spray on, let sit and hose off. Scrub with a brush if necessary. Make sure to use gloves since the cleaning can be highly corrosive. Spray on tire shine.
  3. Wax/buff the entire vehicle. The same methods as described above may be utilized (steps three and four). However, here I’d recommend doing it by hand. For cars that might need some extra TLC the polisher/sander may be used.
  4. Claybar may be used to remove extra stubborn dirt and minor surface abrasions.
  5. Clean the windows using lint free cloths and “Invisible Glass.”
  6. Vacuum. Take out the floor mats and vacuum then outside. Wash if necessary. Make sure to get under the seats, dash and rear window area.
  7. Use a Steam Cleaner or Carpet Cleaner to remove tough stains.
  8. Regarding the hard surfaces inside (vinyl, etc.) – always make sure you use the appropriate product(s).


  • Wax after the car is cool and in shade.
  • Use car specific products.
  • Wax at least once per month.
  • When waxing, start with the three tops (trunk, roof, hood) and work your way around the car.
  • Wash twice per month.


  • Wax in sunlight or apply wax to a hot car.
  • Use products like Windex for the windows

Martin Kostadinov is a detailer out of upstate New York. He can be reached via his website and via his Facebook page!/MartysCarDetail.!/MartysCarDetail

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