Removing Deep Stains On Plastic Boats

I just bought a used Cobra Eliminator and it is in very good shape. It is made of Super Linear Polyethylene. The boat is granite color and has some dark, near black discolorations on the rear deck. I tried Comet and Simple Green with no luck. Any advice would be appreciated. If I can get it clean the boat will look as fast as it will paddle.

I bought a kayak used by REI for rental.
I thought that the enormous black REI logo on the bow was just paint. Various removal measures failed entirely. Then I realized that REI had Dagger put the logo on as part of the roto-molding process. The black goes deep into the aqua plastic. To cover the logo, I will have to sand and paint a substantial area of the bow.

I hope that the little black areas on your boat did not get in as part of the molding process. If they are molded in, however, perhaps you can think of a painted-on accent to cover them, in a pleasantly contrasting paint color. Add some other accents to other areas of the boat. Mask, sand, and clean each area to be painted. Nothing sticks perfectly to polyethelene, but paint I put on my Perception Corsica ten years ago is still in good condition. Probably the best paint to use is Krylon spray paint. Their new “Fusion” paint makes stronger claims for bonding to plastic, but if it is only as good as what they sold ten years ago, it will be good enough.

Convert That Energy
towards paddling… :slight_smile:

Seriously, whatever you get off will be replaced with scratches, gouges and other dinks and discoloring. Can’t enjoy your boat if you’re gonna worry each every time about her looks.

I like boats that speak of experience. Yup.


If you can’t get them out…
why not cover them up? Decal Zone has got some great designs. I didn’t like the logo on one of my kayaks and totally covered it with a black and silver happy Chinese dragon.

stained plastic
is hard to clean.

Acetone works better than comet and simple green but …just GO PADDLE.


Scratches and dings
build character. I also believe that we worry too much about cosmetics. I believe that a good coating of “patina” looks good. It will have that “lived in look”. It’s a little like not wearing sneaks that are too new. Need to have some character.

I’m Innocent! I’m Innocent!
Thanks Steve, Acetone should do it. C’mon fellas I’m innocent! I drag my boats over gravel, rocks, driveways and dirt. They are all scratched up. I don’t clean them, just throw them in the shop. I fish out of all of them and paddle often and well. I just happen to have one boat with a dark stain on the deck that I’d like to remove, that’s all. Perhaps we need to get more into exchanging practical knowledge on this site as opposed to judgemental lecturing. The last thing we want to do is scare off newbies or steal their fun. Opinions of my take on this would be appreciated, thanks.

But I love judgemental lecturing !

I thought we were trying to give you “practical advice.” C’mon, it’s a plastic boat. It’s a cosmetic issue that won’t affect the performance one tad bit… :slight_smile:

Similar questions gets ask over and over again --How do I remove the burrs, get that brand new shine back, etc, etc… I swear some folks are in despair over fuzzy wuzzies and minor scratches. We are just trying to alleviate some unnecessary angst. That’s why we go paddling! Ain’t that “practical?” :slight_smile:


I Relate
I think if I had a stain like that on one of my boats I would also want to remove it, but I am afraid you may not have a choice. Stains like that can be impossible to remove.

Guess I Really Can’t…
You know the boogie I got? It’s practically in brand new condition. But the previous owner made all kinds of marks/measurements on the cockpit rim with some deep staining ink in his effort to move the seat around. Heck, I just move the seat to where I want… Indeed adding on my own marks. I couldn’t care less. That baby rips on the waves. That’s what counts! A smile on my face because of what she can do not because of how she looks. Can’t wait til she gets more dink and scratches from some failed rides. :smiley:


Pressure Washer
The plastic is much more poruse than you think it is. The dirt gets lodged in the small porse and scrubbing won’t get it out. A pressure washer with a wide tip works well. This advice comes from Wilderness Systems so it shouldn’t void any warranties.

Good Luck

Pressure washer
Make sure you don’t set your pressure washer for stream or jet it will gouge holes right into the plastic in no time flat. Make sure you set it for fan or wide angle.

Also, I’ve had luck getting ground in dirt stains out with bleach. However, I have a few black marks on mine from where it was hauled on a livery service’s trailer that I can’t get out with bleach or pressure or both. I have just decided they are going to be there forever.

One other thing about pressure washers. They will peel labels and decals off if your not careful.

Plastic repair stick?
If it really bothers you that much, maybe you could cover it up by melting the appropriate color from a plastic repair stick on top of the stain.

I would just try lightly sanding and if that doesn’t work, forget about it and just paddle.

From a Home Hints article
Cleaning Tough Stains fromm Fiberglass:

Make a paste of salt and turpentine. Mix 1/4 cup of trupentine and 2-3 tablespoons of table salt. Use a stiff brush and plenty of elbow grease. Let dry and wash with mild soap and fresh warm water.

I have several fiberglass canoes and saved this for future use. I don’t know if it would work with plastic but I thought I’d post it for the heck of it.