Boat Cleaner Wax
Are you cleaning or are you waxing?

applying boat cleaner wax

Boats represent unique challenges. Many people want to treat their boat like they do a car.

Which I completely understand as many of the dedicated boat products are very much like car care products.

There are many parallels between boats and cars: washing, polishing, waxing, etc.

The car world is filled with the same type of products: cleaner waxes.

And this approach seems like a great way to save time and money with the ability to kill two jobs with a single product. But in this case we are talking about your boat instead of your car.

And just like I teach people when it comes to a cleaner wax for their car is the same thing I teach to boat owners when it comes to their boats in the form of a boat cleaner wax:

"How do you know when the product is cleaning versus waxing?"

Perhaps this is the kind of critical thinking you don't want to actually think about as it might lead you to a different conclusion. It might lead you to the same conclusion I come to when thinking about all the endless cleaner waxes available on the market.

Which gets me to repeat the question:

"How do you know when the product is applying wax, or removing some of the oxidation in the form of cleaning?"

My guess is that you have also come to the same conclusion which is that likely it seems like an impossible proposition. Which is why I tell people that if you want a false sense of security, then by all means go in search of the best boat cleaner wax. he industry certainly is not short of choices when it comes to these cleaner waxes.

boat cleaner wax

Waxes, Cleaners, Polishes

Like every other area of cosmetic care (boats and cars), the industry has you chasing your tail as much as possible while simultaneously separating you from as much of your money as possible.

Waxing, cleaning, and polishing are terms that have no standardized meaning. The industry will not only use these in ways that can be misleading, but will use them in ways to sell you more and more products.

The industry has responded with boats just as they have done with cars for a very long time, and make one-step cleaner waxes designed for use on boats to remove mild to moderate levels of oxidation.

With one-step boat cleaner wax you can remove the oxidation, restore some shine, while laying down a layer of least that is the logic behind boat cleaner waxes.

Boat Cleaner Waxes:
What Would Darren Do

removing oxidation from boatYou can see the before and after of the oxidation removal process from the side of this electric boat. The oxidation was very severe and required the use of the Rip Cut compound below along with the use of a wool pad and a rotary polisher. But the results are amazing!

So often I am asked by guys what I would do. They don't want all the technical data and information, but simply what I would do if it was my boat and I had some oxidation that I accept needed to be removed, but I also want to apply some wax to my boat.

My answer is this: Keep them separate!

This means that if your boat needs polishing to remove oxidation (regardless of how trivial the amount of oxidation is), you use a boat or gel coat polish to remove the oxidation first, then you apply a wax to add additional shine and protection.

CSI Rip Cut Compound Quart 62-M200-Q

CSI Tiger Cut Wool Pad 62-309

CSI 62-305 Buffing Pad Backing Plate

Darren's Tips: Most boat owners underestimate just how easily and quickly their boats will oxidize. Just how most boat owners don't realize that it only takes a little oxidation to create a lot of work to remove that boat oxidation.

For this reason I lead people to the conclusion that if they want optimum results, you will and should accept that you need to deal with the problem in a professional way by using professional grade products and keeping the polishing separate from the waxing.

Regardless of how trivial you think the oxidation is, you will get much better results taking a boat buffer and using the above compound and polishing pad to remove the oxidation then applying your choice in a boat wax.

Also note that the Rip Cut compound can be used by hand if you don't want to use a buffer. Just know that you will never duplicate the results you can achieve by use of a boat buffer that you will by hand. But I get it; you simply want a quality and effective compound to use by hand without having to commit to using a buffer. Just know that the Rip Cut will be the most effective compound to remove the oxidation you will be able to find. Just accept that you may have to use repeat applications to fully remove the oxidation based on how severe it is.

I always use a micro-fiber cloth to both apply and remove the compound when compounding by hand. You can also try using a damp micro-fiber cloth when applying and rubbing out your boat to remove any oxidation.

Best Boat Cleaner Wax:
If you must...

If you decide that you simply don't want to go to the trouble of polishing your boat with a buffer, and accept that "good enough" might simply be all you are after., then follow along with my tips below.

I provide the following alternatives for you below.

sea ray boat cleaner wax

Waxing your boat is strictly for protection and visual enhancement. Trying to use a wax or sealant on a boat with any form of oxidation will be a frustrating exercise. If you even begin to question as to whether your boat has any oxidation, the answer is probably yes and you should skip to the next sections regarding boat cleaner waxes or boat polishing.

If you can answer yes to the following bullet points, then you can go directly to best boat waxes and shop among the top-rated boat waxes.

  • Your boat is a brand new custom ordered boat that has virtually never been exposed to sun for prolong periods of time.
  • Your boat has just been bought used, and the previous owner stored the boat indoors and is in pristine condition.

Boat Cleaner Waxes

Virtually every industry responds to consumer demands by formulating multi-purpose, all-in-one, or one-step products that are designed to accomplish multiple tasks or duties; the marine industry is no exception and therefore we have what are known as cleaner waxes.

eliminator boat cleaner wax

The ability to clean, or remove, mild to moderate levels of oxidation while adding a layer of protection.

Boats are big, get dirty, are subject to harsh conditions, and therefore most people fail to perform the basic requirements of care and maintenance when it comes to the beauty and protection of the exterior surfaces.

For this reason, one-step boat cleaner waxes are a popular choice for boat owners as most boats live their days out-doors and go extended periods of time without washing and waxing...

which just means that oxidation will be a reality for most boat owners!

Top Rated Boat Cleaner Waxes

Use any of the secure links below to shop among the top rated boat cleaner waxes.

Meguiar's M5032 Marine/RV One Step Cleaner Wax - Liquid - 32 oz.

3M 09005 Marine Restorer & Wax, 16 oz.

Star brite Premium Cleaner Wax with PTEF 32 oz

Darren's Professional Tips: When it comes to shopping for a dedicated one-step cleaner wax for your boat, this is an area that doesn't have to be over thought. Any of the above products will produce great results as far as boat cleaner waxes go, and so long as the oxidation is at a minimum.

If you are new to the world of boat ownership, as a rule, every boat will have some form of oxidation. Unless your boat is brand new, and never been kept outdoors for ANY length of time, I would always recommend a cleaner wax as your first "go-to" boat wax. Even the most well kept boats will have even a subtle amount of oxidation that will reveal itself the moment you try and wax your boat with wax-only type of product.  

Use the following tips to get maximum results:

  • Use with a damp rag; either a micro-fiber or terry cloth rag.
  • Rotate the cloth as it becomes saturated with the boat cleaner wax/oxidation. Don't think that the more the rag becomes saturated the better it is going to work. 
  • Multiple applications are better than trying to apply too much cleaner wax and getting it in a single step.
  • Avoid slopping the cleaner wax into tight seams and crevices. It is easy to get overly zealous and start attacking the boat in attempt to get the job done! Carelessly slopping the product around will only create additional work and disappointment later! You realize weeks down the road you have excessive wax that has now dried to a chalky haze in all the seams and crevices around your boat that you must now try to figure out how to remove.

Boat Polishing

boat polishing with cleaner wax

If you have higher expectations for you and your boat, and your spider-senses are telling you that a one-step cleaner wax applied by hand is not going to deliver the level of results you are after, then your next step is a dedicated gelcoat/fiberglass polish used along with a professional grade boat polisher.

Because gelcoat is such a tough and durable material, the good news is that this makes for an ideal way for beginners to learn and use high-speed polishers. The additional good news is that high-speed polishers are more user friendly than ever, and even true beginners can realistically use them and get professional long as you give yourself a fighting chance and arm yourself with the right equipment and products. You can go to fiberglass boat restoration and see the complete boat polishing kits available that promise to produce professional grade results.

"Darren I am torn! I am pretty certain my boat has some oxidation to it, especially on the top surfaces. But I can't decide whether I should try a simple boat cleaner wax or a dedicated boat polish?"

Let me just say, "You are not alone!"

The simple answer as a general rule is to start simple, and go from there; which would mean one of the top performing cleaner waxes from above.  But this probably won't go very far in helping you make a decision.

So let's really simplify it so you can come to a decision...

Choose a Top Rated Boat Cleaner Wax if You Answer Yes to Most of These Statements:

  • You are a simple person with modest expectations.
  • You know if you can add just a little shine to your boat you will be a happy camper (or boater).
  • You don't feel like spending a bunch of money but don't mind applying a healthy level of elbow grease to use a one-step cleaner wax for your boat.

Choose a Top Rated Boat Polisher and/or a Complete Boat Polishing Kit if You Answer Yes to Most of These Statements:

  • You are looking for the best results possible.
  • You are into your boat for the long haul and really want to raise the bar on its appearance and protection.
  • You have always wanted to learn how to use a high speed polisher.
  • You are self reliant and industrious by nature, and don't mind getting your hands dirty and learning something new in the process.

If you have come to the conclusion that a simple one-step cleaner boat wax is the route for you, then simply pick one of the top rated cleaner waxes for your boat from above. If not, then it is time to go professional grade...

Darren's Professional Recommendations for Choosing Professional Boat Polishing Equipment and Products:

If you have decided you want to take it to the next level and would like to see how the industry has responded with some professional grade equipment and products, then go to fiberglass boat restoration and see how even beginners can expect to produce professional results.

top rated boat cleaner wax polish

Hopefully the information on this page has opened your eyes to where you are now seeing things a little more clearer. This topic is a big topic to cover, but you should be able to make a more informed decision at this point in choosing the most appropriate wax for your boat.


Darren Priest