Washing your boat after paddling

-- Last Updated: May-25-10 11:42 AM EST --

As a rule, once I get home from paddling, I wash my boats inside and out. It's my way of not transmitting any invasive flora or fauna from one body of water to the next. In most cases it's too late, but it makes me feel as if I'm doing the right thing and makes my boats look good!

Anybody else wash their boat each time?


I do
almost every time and especially after being in salt water


Just a hosing each time
Washed as needed. If taking to a different body of water, they get washed first.

Someday a manufacturer will design a cockpit where all the water can flow out when turning upside down rather than needing a sponge

some do
My Romany has a sloping bulkhead between the cockpit and day hatch so that any water in the cockpit drains out easily when the bow is lifted. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen other manufacturers that do the same thing.

I do
With zebra mussel fears and regulations, I always wash mine after paddling. Before the rules tightened up, I usually but not always washed it.

Yes …
I wash it every time after use, not because I am a clean freak but because I do not want to transfer species between water locations.

When you paddle small bodies of water sometimes there will be scum/mud at the waterline, then there is usually mud inside from getting in and out, and fish slim if I’m lucky. Plus I like to start with a clean boat.

After every paddle…
I thoroughly hose out either canoe or kayak inside and out after each use, no matter how short the trip.

for exactly the reasons you do Andy.

plus why not show the boats a little love…

Yah! Sure…

– Last Updated: May-25-10 2:02 PM EST –

About as much as ah' wash me horseless carriage - hardly ever.

But waan ah' do, ah usually drive ta Andy_S's house waan he ain't thaar an' use his'ems water hose an' wipe me boats down wit his underbritches dat ah' pull down fro' his washline.


No, though I will start if I decide it
makes any difference. I think some of the mandatory washing programs intended to stop spread of zebra mussels, etc., are just closing the barn door after the horses have gotten out.

Until recently, we had a protracted severe water shortage in Atlanta. Using water to clean a canoe or kayak would have been frowned upon. Maybe we need to look for other ways.

Yes and no
We dont have eurasian milfoil in our lake. Ergo if I have paddled on my lake I dont wash the boat after an outing.

However if I take that same boat and paddle in out of state ponds (which seem to be infested with eurasian milfoil) you betcha I wash.

100% After salt water and
I rinse boats with a hose after salt water along with paddling shoes, pfd’s, spray skirts, bilge pumps, sponge, paddles. After fresh water too especially trying to get any waterline stains off.

Mostly for good maintenance, not for environmental purposes (although I am a pretty green person).

If we miss a wash after a fresh water paddle because of time constraints, I don’t get too excited. But salt water washing is a must for me.

Bill G.

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Some surely don’t
I wash mine mainly to keep the pollen and salt from drying on the hull, where after drying it is harder to remove. So from where I paddle, this means a wash is required after all trips.

As much as a lot of people here do wash their boats between entry into different bodies of water. I suspect that the people that are throwing their coffee cups, beer cans, food wrappers, bait containers and cigarette butts into the water, are least likely to be considerate of a boat washing. As much as I would like to see these people “WAKE-UP” to what they are doing, I’m afraid a fair percentage are in a polluting coma.


every time we paddle the yaks get hosed down as do the paddles and foot wear. We wash our yaks with soap and water when we have encountered slime, septic over flow or foul smelling water. Such a joy to to know the river we paddle is the drinking water for our city!


– Last Updated: May-25-10 4:26 PM EST –

I often take the boats to a "U-spritz-it" car wash and wash them on the way home after paddling. Nice strong detergent at high pressure with a complete drying (with sun and associated UV)between isn't likely to leave anything alive to be transported. I usually can't get all the waterline funk off without sponging and its awkward to get between two boats, so I'm not as scrupulous as I might be. I think this is just the sort of thing that I can get retentive about and for little logical reason. This isn't, after all, microbiology class. Sometimes I just hose them off in the yard, sponge them, and let them sun dry. Then penetrol and 303 every month or so for scratches and UV protection.

I'm not sure that has much effect on invasive species transmission, but I do it anyhow. With so many power boats and trailers going from lake to lake without even a complete drying between, bait pails and bilges being pumped, I doubt my little bit of dried waterline scum is likely to do much, but I wash nevertheless, often more for cosmetic reasons than to "protect the world". I'm not even sure that the sponge I wipe with isn't recontaminating what I just washed. I never have Milfoil hanging from my painters or anything to begin with. That never leaves the landing.

Do you guys ever encounter Didymos? Now THERE'S something to cause a guy to get serious about cleaning a boat. Even get serious about washing life vests between trips - Even getting extra sponges so they can be completely sun or chlorine sterilized between wettings. It isn't here yet, hope it never is, but it sure looks easily transmissible by canoe and I guess is pretty common in other parts of the country. It apparently thrives in cold, nutrient poor, oxygenated water. In other words, whitewater.
If you want to scare yourself into cleaning:

Just Salt Water

Hardly ever
but my wonderful wife does them when we are near a hose.

If it was strictly up to me, I am sure they would never get washed.

For four months in the winter when we are in the Florida Keys it is just about impossible, because they come out of the water, go on the vehicle roof, and then the next day from the vehicle roof back into the water.

Many times when I get into my yak in the morning, I’ll rescue and release some poor little sea critter that has survived the night in my cockpit, and I feel it tickling my leg.

Jack L

after didymo
rivers. Going to the Esopus in a couple weeks. Great “creek”, actually river size, but it’s plagued by didymo, or “rock snot.” What I do is not paddle the canoe I use there for about a month afterwards, wait for a few good rainstorms to wash it and several hot days to bake things. If I needed that canoe shortly afterwards I’d wash it.

yes - but why wait?
You can now find wash stations at a few inland lake launches, with more to come. The idea is to encourage boaters (bulk of which are powerboaters) to wash their craft off after use for the reasons you cite.

States and federal government are making fund available for more of these installations.