How to clean your boat dock to keep it looking great

How to clean your boat dock to keep it looking great

As people spend more time on their boat docks throughout spring and summer months, all the dirt, grime and other elements worked up by the water tend to accumulate and dirty the dock surface. If left unclean, all those elements don’t just make docks look less appealing - they can also contribute to and speed up wear and tear.

But washing and cleaning boat docks is not as simple as it sounds. Not all dock surfaces should be cleaned the same way. Plus, many tough stains or dirty spots aren’t removed very easily, leading to the use of cleaning materials and chemicals that could be harmful to the water.

In some situations, it could be best to call in someone who specializes in cleaning docks. However, dock cleaning can certainly be accomplished as a do-it-yourself project with the right amount of research conducted before getting out there are throwing some elbow grease at the problem.

Let’s dive into what you should know about washing your boat dock and whether you can make it a DIY weekend project - or are better off consulting a professional.

Inspect your dock before you start cleaning

Before trying to figure out how you are about to tackle your dock-cleaning task at hand, get out there and give the structure a close inspection. Keep an eye out for any loose boards, rotten boards, nails or screws sticking up and any other issues that could affect the dock’s stability. You will want to replace boards or make other repairs before cleaning.

In addition, give any railings, ladders or other dock accessories a close inspection. Make note of and address anything that needs to be repaired before you begin cleaning.

Use a pressure washer - carefully - to clean docks

Many experienced professionals will recommend different cleaning methods depending on the primary material of your dock.

Pressure treated lumber

Some wood docks, such as pressure treated lumber, can be washed with a pressure washer every year or two. Although using a pressure washer does not require a lot of labor, you do need to take care not to splinter the wood. pressure washing wood docks. However, this work has to be done carefully so as not to splinter or otherwise harm the wood.

When cleaning pressure treated lumber, use a cleaning solution approved for use in your area that won’t harm the environment and scrub with a stiff brush.

Tropical hardwoods

Hardwood docks can be cleaned about every one or two years. As with pressure treated lumber docks, use a stiff brush and pressure washer to clean. Seal and stain the dock wood every so often to keep up tropical hardwood’s appearance and lifespan.

Composite decking

A benefit of composite dock decking material is that it does not require cleaning as often as wood decking. Most composites require cleaning only every other year.

As with wood docks, pressure washing works best to remove dirt and any small algae accumulation.

Aluminum docks

You can pressure wash aluminum docks without worrying about damaging the dock in ways you could a wood dock. If stains are present and need to be dealt with, then use a product that is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as safe for the environment.

Avoid products with ammonia, phosphorus

Many lakes around the country - and the communities that rely on them for recreation and economic benefit - have begun to watch more closely what chemicals enter the water.

Ammonia and phosphorus hosphorus are just two of the chemicals causing concerns - but it’s one that is found in many everyday household cleaners. They can often be found in dish soap, laundry detergent and common multi-purpose cleaners.

If too much phosphorus or ammonia enter a lake, it can cause health concerns for both humans and aquatic life. Both substances can increase nutrient pollution, which could lead to algae blooms and the depletion of oxygen in the water.

Other chemicals and cleaning agents can be toxic and directly harm aquatic organisms or people who use a lake or river as a source for recreation activities. Some other chemicals to avoid include bleach, chlorine bleach, triclosan, petroleum solvents and phthalates. Always read product descriptions to check for these potentially harmful ingredients.

When deciding what types of cleaners to use, check to be certain the product you use does not contain phosphorus - or any other chemical that may be banned by officials overseeing the waterbody. Find and use a biodegradable, phosphate-free cleaner with a neutral pH to clean your dock. Again, a good source for recommended safe products can be found at the EPA website.

Use white vinegar or baking soda as an environmentally friendly cleaning alternative to fight mildew

Over time, mildew spots may appear on your dock. Instead of searching for a hard-to-find cleaner, pick up white vinegar or baking soda to fight mildew growth.

Mix either product with water in a spray bottle and wipe away mildew as it pops up.

Ready to upgrade or install your boat dock?

Whether you are looking for an upgraded dock or one that is completely new, VW Docks is equipped to provide you with industry-leading innovation in dock building. We have designed, built and installed high-quality docks since 1959.

Known for excellent quality and a lasting value that will make your dock stand out from the rest, VW Docks works with every customer we encounter to create their own ideal dock. VW Docks offes sectional docks - wood or aluminum, floating docks and can also design, build and install handicaped docks.

We also make available a selection of accessories and parts that can help you make your dock your own - or even add a little something that will make it an even better investment and source of recreation.

If you would like a free quote, then fill out our online form. You can also contact us by calling (712) 336-1016 or toll free at (800) 893-6257 or by sending us an email. We look forward to hearing from you and starting your dream dock project.

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