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Your muddy boots, your dog’s wet paws, fish slime, remnants of worms and other bait. Plus water, and lots of it. Makes your pontoon carpet a perfect habitat for algae, moss and mildew!
There are many ways to clean moss off carpets. But not all of them are environmentally safe! Luckily for you, I have a foolproof method to effectively clean moss off your pontoon carpet. All it takes is vinegar and some elbow grease!
Read on to also learn what you should NEVER use when cleaning your boat. But also how to dry it and maintain it!
How to (Safely) Get Rid of Moss & Mildew on Pontoon Carpet
What NOT to Use
The common wisdom would tell you: just use either hydrogen peroxide, OxiClean or bleach, and your problem is no more.
But let me tell you why it’s a singularly bad idea.
Studies show that hydrogen peroxide is toxic to aquatic organisms even though it’s biodegradable. On the other hand, this same substance is one of the main ingredients in OxiClean!
As for bleach, it’s also harmful to the environment (and us humans too).
So unless you plan on driving the boat away from water to wash it in your backyard, forget about using any of these chemicals.
But even if you’re going to do it far away from your favorite body of water, I’d still prefer natural options. You never know if you’re going to give the carpet a good enough rinse so that the chemicals won’t drain through the scupper after the next heavier rain.
Any Safe DIY Alternatives?
It all begins and ends with direct sunlight! (So keep an eye on the forecast when planning out your cleaning session.)
Firstly, you should park your pontoon boat in a place where it can sit undisturbed for several days. . (Ideally close to your garden hose and a power socket.)
Take out all mobile items – from furniture to your old boots, fishing tackle, rags and beer cans. Then, let the sun do its job. That is, KILL all those algae and moss by drying them out.
Then give the carpet a go-over with a powerful vac.
Next, you’re going to need some white distilled vinegar or even lemon juice (if you’re willing to waste lemons on boat hygiene). This is a natural, yet effective solution to moss.
Spray the vinegar on the moss. The longer you leave the vinegar, the better for you, but it spells bad news for the moss!
Now, grab your brush to scrub the mossy spots. Since you put vinegar on them, they should lift right off. Pick up the clumps of moss and other dirt to get them out of the way.
Rinse and repeat if necessary, and then let it dry in the sun.
Did you know that the sun has a natural bleaching ability and kill any germs on surfaces? Now you know!
Not a DIY Guy? These Will Get Rid of Moss and Algae Too
The most obvious solution is to dish out some $30 and rent a hot water extraction machine such as Rug Doctor.
But the problem is, Rug Doctors use a harsh detergent both for treating and pre-treating, and LOTS of it. Bad news for the poor fish!
Option #2 is to call a pressure washing company (and ask them to only use citric acid and not harsh agents). This is an extremely efficient method (for the carpeting but also the outside of your boat!). But the con is that the equipment is a bit bulky.
Steam cleaning is way more comfy while still being effective. The only potential downside is that the heat may damage it if you do not use it properly.
It might be a pain to connect your steam killer (pun intended – if I were a steamer manufacturer, that’s what I’d call them!) all the way outside too!
How to Dry Your Pontoon Carpet
Drying thoroughly reduces your chance of more mildew, mold, and moss growth. You can remove excess water with a wet/dry vac and dry it in the sun afterward. Once it’s dry, you can fluff it, so it looks luxurious and new.
Fluff your carpets using this method:
- Get a medium-stiff bristle brush. Don’t get a brush that’s too soft but don’t get something too hard. A long-handled brush will get the job done without back strain.
- Brush the carpet. This will fluff the carpet fibers.
- Vacuum in the same direction that you were brushing.
You can apply a carpet sealer/protectant to prevent stains and moss. Check your carpet manual before applying any protectants.
How to Clean Pontoon Boat After Use
When you’re done with the boat, there’s usually a lot of dirt and debris everywhere, which is why you must clean your boat regularly.
This reduces the number of stains on your carpet!
Take out obvious trash from the boat. Remove your chairs, coolers, umbrellas, etc., into a safe area so you can clean the carpet.
- A broom and dustpan – Back to our roots! A nice broom with a long handle can help you clean the carpet without throwing your back out. Just sweep it into the dustpan and throw the dirt away.
- Cordless stick vacuum – This is an easy method to pick small pieces of dirt that may have got hidden in the carpet. However, it may not work properly if your boat carpet is wet. So, you’d have to wait until it dries.
- Wet/dry vacuum – Wet/dry vacs are my go-to after steam cleaners. They are built for big jobs and do them effectively. They can also be used if the carpet is wet.
You can also use a cordless blower but I feel like this makes more work for you. I mean, the dirt has to go somewhere (on the floor most probably) which you still have to clean!
Frequently Asked Questions
Will vinegar clean aluminum pontoons?
Yes, vinegar is a great natural cleaning solution. It will also polish out your aluminum to look like new! Use a 50/50 combination ratio of vinegar and water. Spray the solution on your aluminum pontoon and wipe with a clean cotton towel.
Does vinegar help with the smell of mold?
White vinegar is a mildly acidic liquid that disinfects, deodorizes, and cleans. It can clean 82% of mold species. Although it has a harsh smell, it goes away quickly while absorbing the offensive smell of mold.