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Boat upholstery : how to maintain it well ?

Sellerie bateau

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As a boat owner, you are not unaware that for boating, onboard comfort is the most important thing. In fact, the majority of pleasure boats are equipped with upholstery elements such as cushions, seats, benches, sunbeds... Soften, these elements are made of skai (imitation leather), or leather.

If the engine requires regular maintenance for performance navigation, the upholstery also requires maintenance to ensure comfort on board.

Become an experienced boater with our tips and tricks on boat and engine maintenance, click here!
In this article, we will focus mainly on the maintenance of the upholstery, which is part of the general maintenance of your boat. Thus, we will first detail the necessary equipment. Then, you will discover how to properly maintain the upholstery of your boat, and the risks of a poorly done maintenance of your upholstery elements.
Table of contents

What equipment is required ?

As with any maintenance operation on your boat, it is necessary to be well informed before starting anything. Once you are well informed, it is necessary to properly equip yourself with the tools and the right products for this type of maintenance.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the equipment needed :

  • A normal brush;
  • A soft brush;
  • A microfiber wipe;
  • Soft soap;
  • Bleach;


Of course, there are various specific products used by professionals. They can have several disadvantages : these products are often very expensive and some of them contain harmful components for the marine environment. That's why we recommend soft soap : it remains effective, easily accessible, cheap and above all eco-responsible since it doesn't pose any threat to the marine environment if spilled.

How to properly maintain your boat's saddlery ?

You can imagine that not all saddlery is the same and that each type of saddlery requires a type of maintenance depending on its composition. The majority of boats are composed of skai (imitation leather) but there are also boats with canvas upholstery. The type of maintenance also depends, in some cases, on the condition of the upholstery. If the saddlery is too damaged to clean,it will be necessary to consider its replacement. Otherwise, certain products such as bleach can overcome deep and stubborn stains.

The best solution is to not get lazy and perform regular maintenance ! This will prevent you from accumulating work and forming deep, stubborn dirt that is difficult or impossible to remove.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the different phases of a classic upholstery cleaning :

  • Use the regular brush to remove dry residue;
  • Rinse with water and apply the mild soap, lathering well;
  • Go over the dirty areas with the soft brush;
  • Apply a small amount of bleach to deep, stubborn stains;
  • Rub stubborn stains with the microfiber cloth;
  • Leave it on for about 15 minutes;
  • Rinse with water again;
  • Let everything dry;


If you plan to winterize your boat afterwards, remember to cover your upholstery well or store it in a dry environment to protect it from moisture and the risk of mold.

What can happen to your boat if you don't properly maintain your saddlery ?

First of all it should be understood that saddlery leather like skai is a material to be maintained regularly unlike other materials like plastic etc. With time, it is likely to fade and then harden, eventually cracking. This path is all the more more frequent on a boat since the saddlery undergoes various conditions more or less difficult such as sun, humidity, mold, heat, friction ...

That's why The solution for an upholstery that lasts over time is regular maintenance by performing a quick cleaning and rinsing with water. A more thorough cleaning is certainly recommended at least once a year.

What you need to remember !

Upholstery maintenance is an essential process. The comfort on board your boat depends on it, and it is what determines your pleasure of owning it.

As with any object we care about, the good conservation of the saddlery elements depends on our behavior : the more time we take to take care of them, the more they will last in time !

For your boat's upholstery, if you take the time to do a classic cleaning regularly, it will preserve itself over time.

Did you know ? Boatngo also offers a saddlery tailoring service at the right price !

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