Cleaning my pretty gel coat

-- Last Updated: Jul-17-07 11:12 PM EST --

I don't mind the minor scratches and blemishes that are developing on my new composite boat. What's really getting my goat though are these rather large dark "smears" that have developed on my pretty, shiny white gel coat hull from resting on my saddles and rollers of my carrier. I've since corrected the issue by replacing my rollers with a second set of saddles, and covering the saddles with Yakima's cloth "pads". However, I can't seem to clean off the existing smudges. I've only tried a wet sponge and little elbow grease, because I was unsure of what types of cleaning agents I can safely use on gel coat. Suggestions?

Three ideas
In order of agressiveness.

  1. Citrus based cleaning solvent. Comes in little bottles. Called goo gone or something like that. Leaves your fingers smelling like orange peals for a day or two. Works ok on organic stains like grass or hard to remove river scum. May work ok on the roller residue. Don’t know.

  2. Acetone. Might work better on the roller residue. Might not. Shouldn’t hurt the gel coat though, I don’t think. Didn’t hurt mine.

  3. Rubbing compound. Fine grit. Use carefully. Will remove pretty much anything becasue it grinds it away. Will also remove some gel coat of course, just like it removes polish or paint on autos. Personally, I only used this once, and lightly, just before trading a boat.

    Others may have other ideas. If we hear from someone who has actually removed roller residue, their advice of course trumps mine ;-).


I know this will provoke some mighty replies, and I admit, I have never tried it on a kayak, but gasoline for all parts of a car–finish, paint, windshield for bugs, plastic bumprs–works like a charm.

A quick rub of gasoline? I don;t know, just mentioning it.

Soft Scrub…

Just polished up the wifes boat
Sunday after getting back from a camping trip.

I used a Bug and Tar remover for the black marks. Acetone for anything that was still left. At GRO, they always said to NOT let the Acetone get on the hull seam.

Finished up with a gel coat polish and her 6 yr old Romany looks great.

And as mentioned above, lots of elbow grease.


Acetone …
… Should take it off and it’s safe to use. That’s what 2 local shops use.

Not to open a can of worms here, but you might try Star Brite marine polish … makes it hard for junk to stick, and easier to wipe off. I use it on the deck several times per season (also protects from UV). There’s been some debate on this board about using any kind of polish or wax on the hull … some say it actually can reduce glide, others say the opposite. Star Brite may or may not be a wax, depending on who you talk to. I don’t put it on the hull, but I’m glad it’s on the deck. Stained the deck last weekend, and today found that the wind blew a few drops into the boat. Just wipped them off with a paper towel.

Mr. Clean magic eraser
I thought I had some really horrid gouges in my canoe from a paddle down a mangrove tunnel and oyster bars. Brought it home and cleaned it with boat wash and then thought…why not use that magic eraser that’s taken all the stains from my walls? It worked like a charm! Those gouges were nothing more than nasty stains.

You must be s***ing us. Where does the gasoline end up? In the H2o! That must be the worst response I’ve ever seen, as well as being completely irresponsible, to even suggest. Thought you where quite a bit smarter than that comment implies. Hang your head in shame.

WOW I missed it.
It sounds like a quick rub of gasoline turned into a five gallon pour :wink:

Pennies do turn into dollars, eh?

auto cleaner wax
like mguires (i spelt it wrong) lol 6 bucks at wal mart will do the trick nicely with out damage to your gel coat and will also provide some uv protectin as well…

"Color Restorer"
I found a boat product at West Marine called Color Restorer made by McGuire’s. It’s a little pricy at about $15, but a bottle should last for ages. It’s a very good cleaner and gentle on gel coat, but will also remove mild oxidation with a little more elbow grease.

Bon Ami
I have used Bon Ami on the rub marks from the rack and they came off quickly w/o marring the surface.

this is a gentle scrub that is used in the kitchen. It is not an abrasive like Soft Scrub or Ajax or Comet.


Gas works fine. I was getting the same marks on my glass boat from the Hully Rollers. A small amount of gas on a rag is all that it takes to do the job. Just wash the boat with soap and water afterwards where you used the gas. After I cleaned the Hully Rollers I quit having the marks.

‘Cleaning’ with wax a nice way to go.
If its marks from rollers, cradles a quick wipe of acetone is perfect … rewax that area if you were cleaning with wax as you just wiped off the wax too.

Isn’t kerosene the choice of oldtimers for cleaning any and everything ?

GRO says stay away from seam as acetone will smear the gelcoat used for the seam cosmetics or ‘melt’ any plastic extrusion on other boats for that matter.

Squeaky Clean
On my glass boat I use Simple Green. And it works great. It takes all the smudges, slime and general mung off your boat and it is biodegradable. Top it off with some 303 protectant and yous good.

Second the magic
eraser. I use it to get the black marks off of my kayak.It works great