How to clean sticky ABS Royalex canoe?

-- Last Updated: Aug-28-12 10:04 AM EST --

I have a 20-year-old ABS Royalex canoe, and the entire plastic hull has become sticky (tacky). Does anyone have a suggestion for cleaning or treating the ABS?

Try soap and water first
and escalate from there. You can try something mildly abrasive like Comet cleanser.

For the really stubborn sticky residue I have generally found that an organic solvent like acetone or methyethylketone is required. Either will melt your hull on prolonged contact though, and getting all the goo off is laborious. MEK fumes are also pretty toxic.

How did it get that way?
Have you been treating it with something?

I have a +/-25 year-old OT that I’ve sporadically scrubbed with bleach and water and applied 303 to its outer hull twice a year for the past dozen. It lives under cover outdoors and has never gone through a sticky stage.

Some get sticky and grimy, some don’t
Even if they are stored side by side.

I have heard folks say that this is the result of some type of mold growing on the boat and that it can be removed with bleach, but I have not found that to be the case.

Maybe plasticizers leaching
out of the vinyl?

It would bother me, too.

I think that is quite possible especially in view of the fact that organic solvents are typically needed to remove it.

It is not just that the surface becomes tacky. The stickiness attracts dirt and grime that really makes the boat unsightly.

Had this problem
After washing as best I could I found that car wax paste and some elbow grease cleaned it up nicely.

I think it’s grunge complicated by
little growing organisms. The surface is vinyl, and a non-aggressive vinyl cleaner should clean it effectively. Then I agree with the notion of using a wax, perhaps the 3M yacht wax I use, to preserve a clean surface.

Wierd -
learn something new everyday. I’ve never seen something like this. I have two trippers both more than 30 years old and I’ve never seen anything like you describe.

looks like new
I had good luck with undiluted Simple Green under a coarse cotton shop rag working small areas between beer and rest.