A yellow glove wiping with a blue rag.


‘Tis the season for summer fun and sunscreen. But while sunblock is great for our skin, the same can’t be said for our boats. If you’ve noticed sunscreen stains affecting your boat seats, our Smooth Moves team has a remedy to help them look as good as new.

How to Remove Sunblock Stains on Boat Seats

Sunscreen may be a vital part of our summer routine, but its chemical make-up can quickly wreak havoc on fabrics. If you’ve noticed sunscreen stains on your vinyl boat seats and your regular cleaning routine isn’t doing the trick, try this more intensive method.

What You Need to Remove Sunscreen Stains on Boat Seats:

  • 1-3 sponges
  • Ammonia 
  • Mild detergent
  • Soap
  • Vinyl protectant
  • Protective gloves
  • Cotton rags 
  • Water 
  • Bucket for rinsing 

What To Do:

  1. Gather your materials. 
  2. Put on your protective gloves. 
  3. Apply ammonia to a clean sponge. 
  4. Gently rub the sponge over the spot in question.
  5. Keep repeating steps 3 and 4 until the sunscreen stain starts to disappear. 
  6. Grab a clean sponge (or thoroughly rinse the one you just used).
  7. Apply mild detergent and soap to the sponge.
  8. Rub the sponge on the spot to get rid of any remaining ammonia. 
  9. Grab a clean sponge (or thoroughly rinse the one you just used).
  10. Use this sponge to rinse the seat clean. Make sure you’re using water only. 
  11. Wipe the seat clean with a rag. Make sure the area is dry. Note: Take your time drying your seats. If you skip or rush this step, you risk mold or mildew growth.
  12. Finish the job with a layer of vinyl protectant. 

Because vinyl is porous, we want to ensure all the ammonia is gone and not left to sink into the fabric, where it can risk permanent (and expensive) damage.

And there you have it! Following these instructions should eliminate pesky sunscreen stains on your vinyl boat seats.

Woman driving a boat with her feet up!

Want to Stay Ahead of the Game?

Try these preventative measures to keep your boat seats looking sharp. 

  • Apply vinyl protectant. 

As they say, the best offense is a solid defense. Applying a layer of vinyl protectant with a bristled brush reduces the risks of future sunscreen stains on boat seats. Read and carefully follow all product instructions for optimal results. 

  • Keep up with routine maintenance. 

Establish a routine to wash your seats. Regular maintenance will hopefully keep them mold- and mildew-free. Want to learn more?

Read our do’s and don’ts for cleaning vinyl boat seats. 

  • Cover your seats.

When your boat is not in use, shield your seats from too much sunshine or rain. Invest in fitted covers with enough room to let your vinyl breathe. Ventilation is key! 

An Important Note: When caring for porous materials, you want to avoid using harsh chemicals. When it comes to vinyl maintenance, this no-go list includes Formula 409, Goo B Gone, degreasers, bleach, or acetone products. 

Boat Fanatics Unite

Here’s to a beautiful summer with sunscreen that keeps you safe without damaging your boat. If you need more boating tips, you know where to find us! We keep our Smooth Moves blog updated all year long.

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