The deep clean

Ready for occupancy

Ready for occupancy

Using a toothbrush to get at dirty corners. Vacuuming hatch screens and overheads. Wiping down every accessible surface, including holds and lockers.

Marty and I did all of those over the weekend as we spent around 12 hours scouring our boat top to bottom before we move aboard next weekend. OCD? Probably. But that’s how we roll. We’re both neatniks — thankfully, since differences in cleanliness standards can lead to epic marital battles. A clean boat is a happy boat, and in our case, also makes for happy, harmonious boat owners.

We’re renting our Ballard townhouse out and living aboard for the summer, as we’ve done the last two years. Our first renters arrive this Sunday, June 30. After a few months of hustling to get a few boat projects done, we went down to the boat on Friday night to put away tools, get things organized and clean off the layer of dust and grime that’s built up over the winter.

It took some creative visualization skills to believe that this chaotic scene would be clean and orderly within a few days:

messyboatI tackled the galley while Marty got busy with the aforementioned vacuuming. I wasn’t kidding about that.

MartyvacuumingI learned a nifty little trick recently while we were revarnishing our forward cabin and head. Louvered doors look lovely, but they’re a pain to clean. How to get between the slats? And there’s always that bit of dust left in the corners that you can’t get at.

I came up with a handy technique while trying to remove the dust between applying layers of varnish. In that case, I poked the end of a piece of tack cloth between the slats and flossed there, sliding the cloth along the slats and back and forth in the corners. On the weekend I did the same thing with a rag.

When I was done, there was nary a speck of dust in the corners. Oh, the geeky joy of a good cleaning technique.

But the best discovery of the weekend came when I was cleaning the cockpit. It was late Saturday afternoon, after about six hours of work, and I was getting tired. Still, I couldn’t look at the layer of green-black grime in the cockpit anymore, so I broke out the cleaning supplies.

I used ZCare’s LVP Marine spray and the oddly named Something To Do It Cream Cleaner, which we discovered through Practical Sailor. Both work great. LVP Marine is a multisurface cleaner that can be used on fiberglass, wood, canvas and other materials. Something To It is intended specifically for removing stains. (Full disclosure: ZCare is a Three Sheets advertiser, but we wouldn’t endorse any products unless we like them, and we like theirs; they’re eco-friendly and the company is locally owned and based in Seattle, both of which we appreciate).

CleaningproductsI also used a package of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponges. I hadn’t tried them before but had heard they work well. That’s an understatement.

Smudges on the fiberglass that couldn’t be removed by scrubbing with a brush easily disappeared with a few rubs of a Magic Eraser. It also worked like a charm for getting at the gunk in hard-to-reach areas where a regular brush won’t fit, like around deck fittings and along the jib sheet track. The magic ingredient in these little white wonders is a material commonly known as melamine foam, an abrasive cleaner that works like very fine sandpaper and can get into small grooves and corners.

They do have a downside, though: they disintegrate while you’re using them, and very quickly. Despite my efforts to be gentle, I went through four while cleaning the cockpit and decks. So know that you’ll go through a bunch of them if you’re doing any extensive cleaning. But don’t let that deter you.

By Saturday night, things were looking a little better.

By Saturday night, things were looking a little better.

After nine hours of toil on Saturday, the boat was ready for us to move aboard. We went home, plopped our butts on the couch and ordered pizza. We were wiped, but in that good, hard-days-work way.

In less than a week Marty and I plan to be kicking back and enjoying a glass of wine and the view of downtown Seattle in our newly crud-free cockpit.

4 Responses to The deep clean

  1. seaweedsoup June 24, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    Boraxo and vinegar. Both natural and will replace most of those expensive brand name cleaners. Kills mold like crazy.

    • Deborah Bach June 25, 2013 at 11:17 am #

      Good to know. We use a vinegar and water solution for regular inside cleaning, but I’ve never tried Boraxo. Thanks!

  2. Paul June 24, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    Dude – we started using the magic erasers too!!! Amazing!

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