Getting plastic off of gelcoat

I have the malone kayak carrier and with how the kayak slides up the back of the car, the plastic from the carrier keept rubbing off on the bow of my boat leaving black lines of plastic on the gelcoat which are difficult to get off. I’ve since covered the plastic with athletic tape so it no longer rubs, but I can’t figure how to get the plastic off which has already rubbed onto the boat. I am unsure solvents will be enough for this, what solvents and abrasives are safe for the white gel coat?

(Sorry I don’t have a close up picture)

Our Thule Hullivator likes to leave black marks behind on our kayaks. I might have tried rubbing alcohol once? I just can’t remember how much success I had.

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Acetone is safe on gel coat as is Goof Off.

My Hullavator also left black marks on my hull. I cleaned those off using Dawn and warm water. Solved the problem by gluing nylon backed neoprene to the Hullavator pads.

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How about a buffer with rubbing compound

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I used a small amount of gasoline on a rag to clean plastic marks off the side of a van when it rubbed another car’s black bumper cap. Gas won’t / should not hurt gel coat.
Just be sure to clean the area well afterwards.

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I have had good luck with Mr Clean Magic Eraser on marks on the inside of my hot tub. Never tried it on a boat but would.

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Magic eraser and 3m cleaner wax covers about 99% of my boat cleaning.


I too have had the same issues while using a MALONE V-Shaped carrier leaving a rubber transfer on the kayak. I used Mr Clean Magic Eraser like the other person suggested.

They are amazing and leave no marks or scuffing on my Carbon Fiber Swift Kayak. We have actually used them on our walls in our home to remove small scuff marks the same excellent results.

Give it a try there are awesome.

Magic Eraser has fine abrasives in it. Not to be used on car finishes and clear coats. I use in on my kayaks gelcoat.

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A buffer with rubbing compound will probably not work well and will be more aggressive for use on gel coat than necessary. When trying to remove plastic residue with a buffer it will likely just smear on the boat and clog up the buffer pad. Acetone or similar solvents will probably work just fine. After removing the residue treat the hull with a UV protectant like 303® or a good marine wax.

Actually, they don’t have any abrasive in them at all; it’s just the nature of the melamine material that creates the abrasive effect. It’s millions of tiny edges of the cells in the material that do the work. It’s pretty amazing that they clean really well, but can be used on surfaces like latex paint without causing damage. The only downside I’ve found to them is that they’re not durable at all.

Test magic erasers on a clear piece of acrylic first then decide for yourself what you are willing to use them on.


They contain hardened resins

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How much plastic is on the hull to clog a buffer?

Compound by hand if you like to take it off. 3M cleaner wax is available in 3 different grades. Takes off plastic or rubber marks easily. Use it on boat hull many times.

Both articles say that Magic Erasers work exactly as I said it did. “Cleaner waxes” all contain fine abrasives.

The only way to remove the plastic without abrasives is with chemicals.

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Yikes. I’m surprised (but not really) about some of the answers here. If it’s only plastic or rubber from a kayak rack, there is zero need to use anything abrasive, a power tool or a carcinogen. Likewise you can use Acetone but be aware that acetone is a solvent and is removing a small amount of gelcoat every time it is used. You may not ever notice how much it removes, but it is, and I want to preserve the finish on my boats as best I can. What you really want to use is denatured alcohol. It will take rubber and plastic off with the slightest elbow grease. Follow that up with some StarBrite hull cleaner (available at Worst Marine etc.) to remove any brown stains on the hull from dirty water. Starbrite is a godsend in that regard. It easily takes off brown water stains that soap and water will not.


Denatured alcohol is always my first chemical of choice for cleaning (if water fails), as it’s pretty benign. Mineral spirits (a.k.a. “paint thinner”) is the next choice, as it’s more effective in some cases, but won’t damage most surfaces. If that fails, lacquer thinner or acetone would be the next step, but they will damage many painted surfaces and plastics, so you have to be judicious with them. A natural alternative would be a citrus cleaner, but they can also damage paint and plastics.

I work with Fiberglass everyday. You can sand it off with a 600 grit and then move to a 1500 or finer. Then just buff it out to a shine.

You said they have no abrasives. They do have abrasives.

You can wet sand gelcoat so you can use the pads.