Best Boat Cleaner For Mildew Removal (Revealed!)

Bleach removes mildew. You only need to mix it with mild soap and water and saturate the canvas and you have solved a mildew problem. But bleach has its problems, especially when you do not know what ratio of water soap to mix. It dulls and discolors surfaces.

Some boat owners have also used borax and vinegar to remove mildew from boat seats. Before I discovered that mildew removers are more effective than homemade solutions, I used vinegar. It worked for me, but the vinegar is less versatile and less effective. With commercial boat cleaners, you not only remove mildew but also other forms of dirt. Plus, these cleaners are fast-acting.

What Makes a Good Mildew Remover?

Mold and mildew removers enhance the appearance of your boat’s seats by removing the stains. Most of these products have a formula that allows them not only to remove stains but also counteract the fading that results from the sun.

Some of the factors I consider when picking a mildew remover include:

Fast-Acting Ingredients

The formula of a boat cleaner needs to be fast-acting and safe. I need a solution that removes stains without me putting so much effort in the cleaning job. This way, you will not need to scrub the vinyl or canvas on your boat’s seats. You will also not end up so tired after the cleaning process.


A boat cleaner should be safe for you and for the boat seat. Some of the fastest-acting products contain several bleaching agents that may weaken the boat seat material. When you expose the vinyl material to bleaches and then to the sun, the material weakens and wears out fast, and you reduce its lifespan.

The chemical names on the list of ingredients may confuse you. If you are unsure of some ingredients, search for their effects online.

To get the best value for you money, I recommend you go for a versatile product. Pick one that can clean the furniture, carpet, dashboard, and other items in your boat.

Ease of Application and Smell

I love cleaners in spray bottles. These are the easiest to use for me. There are several ways manufacturers package the cleaners, and you need to find the packaging that works for you.

Besides the packaging, go for a product that leaves a fresh smell on your vinyl seats. There are varieties of scents to choose from, and you can go for whatever impresses your sense of smell.

Best Boat Cleaner For Mildew Removal

Best Boat Cleaner for Mildew Removal

Star Brite Mildew Stain Remover – Best Overall

Star Brite Mildew Remover contains a high alkaline formula that removes dirt and mildew without dulling or discoloring your vinyl seats. Its triple-action formula also ensures that you never have to scrub when cleaning.

What I like about this cleaner is that I can use it for my boat and later carry it home for use on surfaces. It was formulated for professional use, which makes it so effective as a boat cleaner.

Star Brite uses buffered bleach technology that ensures your seats are clean without damaging the surface of the seats. This way, you can use it on surfaces in your boat. It is effective on vinyl seats, acrylic fabrics, awnings, roofs, and tiles among others.

It is fast-acting and removes mold and mildew immediately upon contact. Most stains will be out within 30 seconds after application to make the cleaning process hassle-free. If your boat seats have more stubborn stains, you may need a second application to remove them completely.


• Fast acting formula

• Comes with a spray bottle that is easy to use

• You can use it on different surfaces safely


• The strong formula might damage the paint on painted surfaces

Marine 31 Mildew Remover – Best for Professional Cleaning

Marine 31 has a special formula that works on marine surfaces. It is effective on viny seat cushions, rubber fenders, gel coat, canopies, and fiberglass among others. You can also use it to remove mold and mildew in your house.

I love the professional-grade formula of this product. It is able to clean surfaces without any damages of discoloration. The product works within a minute, and you only need a second application if the surface of your seats is highly stained and one application does not remove the stains.

It comes in an easy-to-use spray bottle. Once you spray the cleaner, you need to allow it a moment to work before wiping it off.


• Works fast, within a few minutes

• Does not require you to scrub the surface

• Works on several boat surfaces


• Contains a little bleach that can damage weak materials

Nautical One Xtreme Mildew Remover – Best For All Boat Surfaces

The Nautical One Xtreme Mildew Remover is a viscous boat cleaner in a spray bottle. It is meant to remove years of mold and mildew from the boat seat and rubber bumpers among other surfaces. It has a thick gel formula that clings on the surface of your seats and removes dirt fast and effectively.

If your boat seat is lightly stained, you can clean it without scrubbing and the product wipes out clean with ease. For more stubborn stains, you may need to use a nylon brush and minimum agitation to remove. When using this product, spray it on the surface and allow it between three and 20 minutes to work. After that, wipe it out and rinse with clean water.

Nautical One Xtreme Mildew Remover doesn’t use any bleach elements in its formula, and this is what makes it safe for use on all surfaces. It also doesn’t have any caustic ingredients that may damage the vinyl seat and its stitching.


• Free of bleach and caustic ingredients

• Gel like formula that clings on surfaces

• Works within a few minutes


• Relatively pricey

3M Mildew Stain Remover – Best for Light-Colored Surfaces

The 3M Mildew Stain Remover works on light-colored surfaces with dark spots and other surfaces with stubborn dark stains. It is especially effective when used on vinyl, so you can use it on boat seats.

Instead of just cleaning the surface of your vinyl seats, this substance penetrates into the vinyl material and removes all spots. It also prevents the reoccurrence of the spots, making your boat cleaning easier in the future.

The formula of this cleaner is fast-acting and only requires a few minutes to thoroughly clean your seat surface and other surfaces in your boat. Like other products on this list, it comes in a spray bottle, so you can use it with ease. All you need to do is spray the product and then wipe it off the surface without scrubbing.


• Easy spray-and-wipe mechanism

• Professional-grade formula for fast cleaning

• Effective on light-colored surfaces


• The scent is not impressive

CLR Mold and Mildew Stain Remover – Best for Painted Surfaces

The CLR stain remover is another effective mold and mildew remover that you can use on surfaces such as vinyl, tile, fiberglass and many others. Its formula is free of bleach, which makes it safe for the vinyl seats and their stitching. You are also sure that it doesn’t leave a strong smell of bleach on the surface of your seats.

Because of its safe formula, the product is effective on painted surfaces. It also meets DFE standards for safe products, making it EPA-approved. Each bottle comes with a trigger-spray handle that you can use to access those hard-to-reach areas of your boat.

One thing I like about this product is that it has a foaming solution that ensures it doesn’t splash back from the surface. This minimizes waste and also ensures there is enough contact time with the surfaces.


• Easy to use spray mechanism

• Free of bleach for safety on surfaces

• Fast acting formula


• May not be effective on stubborn stains

Why Do Boats Need a Mildew Remover?

Your boat is almost always in water. The environment and the conditions you expose your boat to makes it susceptible to mold and mildew. Mildew is common on areas with high moisture, and it spreads quickly on surfaces such as boat seats. When inhaled, it can result in serious respiratory problems.

Granted, it is important that you have a mildew remover all the time. It will ensure that your boat seats are visually appealing without the unsightly stains on them. You will also be safe from the harmful spores that can result in breathing problems.

Removing the mildew stains also increases the value of your boat. No one wants to buy a boat with stains on its seats. Further, cleaning the boat ensures that you are in a clean environment that you will enjoy sailing in.

Are Mildew Stain Removers Safe For You?

Most stain removers are safe. You may come across products that have allergic ingredients, but the manufacturer will always warn you against these ones. To be safe, check the list of ingredients and search for the effects of each online before you start using a product. You should also wear gloves, especially if you are using a product with bleach that can leave your hands dry.

Best Boat Cleaner For Mildew Removal
Nautical One Xtreme Mildew Remover – Best For All Boat Surfaces

Closing Thoughts

You will always remove mold and mildew from boat seats and other surfaces especially, because boats are exposed to high moisture environments all the time. Most boats have materials and surfaces that resist the growth of mold and mildew, but you will still find stains caused by these two. You will find mold and mildew stains mostly on the seat, but the stains are also common on the cabin and other surfaces.

With a mildew remover, you are sure to get rid of the spots fast. Some boat cleaners are able to slow down the growth of mold and mildew. These are the products that penetrate deep into the vinyl surfaces to get rid of the spores.

After cleaning your boat, you will not only enjoy its appearance, but you will breathe better and your boat will have more value. It is not easy picking the right boat cleaner, especially given the long chemical names on the list of ingredients. Even if a product had all bleach ingredients, it would be challenging to note unless you understand the chemical names. As such, you have to take your time and choose the best product for your boat.