How Can I Make My Kayak Shine?

The bad news is that no matter how expensive your kayak is, it’s still subject to wear and tear, and after a while, it’ll look old and dirty if you don’t clean it regularly. Moreover, without a proper cleaning routine, you’ll end up with ugly scratches that affect the kayak’s body, and the UV rays will eventually cause the color to fade and the body to crack. 

So is it possible to make a kayak shine? Unfortunately, most kayaks are constructed of polypropylene, which won’t shine. The more you try polishing it, the worse it will get. 

However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t clean it regularly to keep it clean and residue-free. 

You just need to follow a simple cleaning routine, invest in the right cleaning products, and clean your kayak regularly to keep it ready for your next trip. 

So, how can I make my kayak shine? If you’re asking yourself this question, you’ve come to the right place because we’ll share the best cleaning tips and tricks to keep your kayak in great shape. So, keep on reading to learn more about cleaning your kayak correctly. 

Why Do I Need to Clean My Kayak?

Before moving on to our cleaning tips, you might be asking yourself, why do I need to clean my kayak? Your kayak is in the water, so why do you need to spend time, effort, or money to clean it? 

Marine Buildup

First of all, even if your kayak is squeaky clean, putting it in the water is enough reason to have it cleaned one more time. Regardless of the nature of the water, marine buildup will affect the look of your kayak. 

Biological residue, oil from other boats, fuel residue, and algae will stick to your kayak’s surface, forming a slick film that causes your kayak to look faded, discolored, and old. 

With time, these substances accumulate, leaving you with a kayak that looks and feels messy. The greasy buildup can also be a safety hazard because someone might slip and fall. 

Rocks and Debris

After dragging your kayak in and out of the water, you might end up with some sand, mud, dirt, or gravel on the exterior or interior. Leaving it can cause scratches or affect the overall look of your kayak, so you need to get rid of them as soon as they accumulate. 

Harsh Saltwater

Special attention is needed if you use your kayak in the sea or ocean. The saltwater residue is too harsh on your kayak’s body, and the salt particles can cause irreparable scratches. 

This is why cleaning your kayak after a kayaking trip is essential. To keep it in great shape, you should also deep clean your kayak once or twice a month, depending on how often you use it. 

How Can I Make My Kayak Shine?

Having a kayak that looks clean and shiny will encourage you to go on your kayak more often. It will also keep your yak looking as good as new until you’re ready to take it into the water. 

Before cleaning your kayak, you should pay attention to its type. Most kayaks are made of plastic or composite, and there are some differences between cleaning and shining these kayaks. While others are made of wood, and these are less durable. 

Regular Cleaning Routine

Following this routine is essential after every kayaking trip. It will prevent the stains and smudges from settling into the kayak’s body and ruining its look. 

  • Use clean water to hose down the kayak, whether you’ve been using it in freshwater or saltwater. Water will also loosen any dirt or grime particles and make them easier to remove. 
  • For tough stains, consider pressure washing your kayak. It’ll work best if you have a kayak made of PVC. Composite and wood aren’t durable enough to withstand pressure washing. 
  • Mix some mild dish soap with lukewarm water and apply this cleaning solution using a sponge or a microfiber towel. 
  • Wipe the kayak’s body and pay special attention to the tough stains. 
  • If the stains and smudges still remain, dry the kayak’s body and apply a potent cleaning solution like Armor All. Cleaning solutions break the bonds in the stain’s molecules, making them easier to remove. They also save you time and effort because you don’t have to scrub your boat to make it squeaky clean. 
  • Hose your kayak one more time to remove all the cleaning solution and soap residue. Soap and cleaning solutions can leave marks and streaks that ruin your kayak’s look. 
  • Dry your yak using a clean towel. Don’t leave it in the sun because UV rays can affect the durability of the plastic in the long run. You should make sure that your kayak is 100% dry before storing it to prevent the growth of mold and mildew

Thorough Cleaning Routine

This cleaning routine takes more time and effort. Still, it’s essential at the beginning or end of the season to remove all the debris, marine by-products, and dust that might have accumulated over extended periods. 

This routine will also work for you if you have had a spilling accident where you’ve spilled some suntan oil outside or inside your kayak. 

  • Start by loosening the smudges and stains using lukewarm water and soap. Next, use a soft-bristle brush or a sponge to break dirt and grime particles and remove stuck algae to make your cleaning job more manageable. 
  • Hose your yak using clean water and dry it thoroughly before moving on to the next step. 
  • To remove mildew and mold, mix some vinegar or bleach with water and use a sponge to clean the area. Hose the area down to prepare it for the next cleaning step. 
  • Apply a practical cleaning solution specifically designed to clean and maintain boats and kayaks. Armor All is a good choice because a little goes a long way. You can apply two or three coats and wipe them using a clean cloth to make sure that you’ve removed all the grime. 
  • Follow the cleaning instructions on your cleaning solution. For example, Armor All doesn’t need to be washed off, but other products might have to be rinsed. 
  • Let your kayak completely dry before the next step. 
  • Apply some wax to a clean microfiber cloth and spread it evenly to protect your kayak’s body. Waxing provides an extra layer of protection that protects your yak from scratches, smudges, and dents. It also boosts the durability of your kayak as a whole. 

Waxing A Kayak

Waxing is essential if you have a composite kayak, but it won’t be that important if you have a plastic one. Nevertheless, it can still improve the durability of your plastic kayak. 

  • After waxing your kayak, let it completely dry. Make sure that you don’t apply too much wax so you don’t have a streaky or sticky surface. 
  • Use a clean microfiber towel to polish the wax. This will add sheen and restore the color of your kayak. 
  • Apply a layer of UV protectant. 303 protectant is an excellent choice because it protects your kayak’s body from deterioration. Apply a small amount and buff it to make sure that it covers every inch of your kayak’s body. 
  • Ensure that you don’t apply too much UV protectant because this product won’t dry on its own. If you apply too much product, use a wet cloth to wipe off any excess product. After that, use a dry microfiber cloth to buff it and spread it. 
  • Let your kayak completely dry, then cover it and store it away. Keep your yak in the garage or another shaded place to maintain its condition. 


Even if you spend thousands of dollars on a good kayak, not cleaning it regularly can eventually make it look messy and dirty and affect its durability. 

This is why you need to pay special attention to regular cleaning after every kayaking trip and before storing away. 

You should also invest more time and effort in cleaning your kayak at the beginning or end of the season to remove the tough stains and smudges and apply a layer of wax and UV protectant to keep it as good as new. 

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