Fishing boats sitting on doc.

At Smooth Moves Seats, we’re all about helping anglers enjoy a smoother ride, no matter what the weather forecast is calling for. But upgrading your ride with shock-absorbing boat seat suspension won’t do a whole lot for your comfort level if your boat seats are covered in mildew stains.

As many of us like to take our boats out on the water every chance we get, the probability of seeing tiny traces of mildew on our vinyl seats are always greater. That’s because moisture + humidity = mildew. And on the water, we’re surrounded by both elements.

But can mildew really grow on vinyl boat seats? The answer is yes, but the good news is there are ways to help prevent moisture from seeping into your upholstery, causing mildew to ruin your boat seats and your fishing experience.

How to Clean Vinyl Boat Seats

The best way to prevent mildew from getting cozy on your boat seats is to practice regular cleaning and maintenance.

Try these simple do’s and don’ts for how to clean boat seats:

Do Wash Vinyl Seats Regularly: After you come in from a long day on the water, be sure to wash your vinyl seats with dish soap and water. Use a cloth to carefully scrub and clean each seat to remove dirt, sweat, and debris.

Don’t Let Your Vinyl Seats Air Dry: After you’ve washed your boat seats, remember to always wipe them down until they are “completely” dry. Remember, when moisture is left on a surface that’s susceptible to high humidity, it creates the perfect breeding ground for mildew. 

Do Use a Protective Sealant: There are many top-rated brands on the market that can help you prevent the onset of mildew or mold from forming onto your cushion’s surface. Remember to do your research to find out which product is best for your fabric and follow all directions carefully.

Don’t Skip on Cleaning: If your instructions recommend that you apply a sealant monthly, remember to never skip a single session. Be diligent with your cleaning routine. It’s much easier to prevent the onset of mildew than it is to remove it for good.

How to Remove Mildew Stains from Vinyl Boat Seats

Though removing mildew from your vinyl seats is challenging, it’s not impossible. To help you clear off this harmful, unsightly fungus from your boat seats, try these simple do’s and don’ts:

Don’t Treat Mildew with Bleach: Resist the urge to use a powerful chemical like bleach to remove mildew or mold from your boat seats. Will it kill the mold? Yes, but in doing so, it can also damage your seat cushions and make you have to replace them sooner!

Do Invest in a Quality Mildew Remover: As with finding the best protective sealant for your boat’s upholstery, make sure you do your research to find the right mildew or mold remover, too. Make sure your product is (1) specially formulated for boat use—not home use—(2) is safe to apply to vinyl material and (3) doesn’t contain harmful chemicals like bleach. 

Don’t Expect Your Mildew Remover to Work Miracles: Removing mildew and mold from your vinyl seat cushions is difficult, which is why it requires regular maintenance. After you’ve applied the mildew remover and treated your seats, be sure to practice cleaning and drying your seats regularly to avoid further exposure to mildew.

Do Store Your Boat in a Dry, Ventilated Area: When it’s time to head in for the winter, make sure that after you have properly cleaned (and dried) your boat’s interior and exterior surfaces, to store it in a dry, ventilated area, where it won’t be exposed to harsh weather conditions (snow, hail, rain, etc.). Leaving your vessel to defend for itself in these types of conditions could mean you’ll get a big moldy surprise come next fishing season!

Get More Boat Tips from Smooth Moves Seats

Stay connected to our blog to find more boat tips or to read stories from our pro anglers on why they love using Smooth Moves Seats. To learn about the benefits of upgrading to our advanced boat seat system, browse our website for more details on our Smooth Moves Air and Ultra. Or find a dealer near you!