Bimini tops are a perfect way to make a pontoon boat more comfortable for an enjoyable sailing experience.
Unfortunately, they are also prone to mildew and bird poop, which can make making them look horrible.
Even the most durable boat covers built to withstand whatever nature brings need regular care and maintenance.
Just like you tend to your boat for ultimate performance, you need to keep your Bimini top clean to ensure that it looks good all the time and lasts for many years to come.
Sure, Bimini tops aren’t really a lifetime investment, but they can last for an extended period with proper maintenance.
But how do you keep a Bimini top clean? Can you use bleach or other harsh detergents to clean a Bimini top?
If it’s time to clean your pontoon Bimini top and these questions are already running through your mind, you’ve come to the right page!
In this article, I’ll share with you a detailed guide on how to clean a Bimini top.
How to Clean Bimini Top
Cleaning a Bimini top isn’t as tedious and complicated as you may think. It’s actually an easy task that you can complete within an hour as long as you have the required equipment.
So, here is what you need to clean your Bimini top:
- A pressure washer
- Spray bottle
- Mild soap
- 303 UV-Protectant spray
Now, you might be thinking that it’s time to grab that bleach to do the magic, but don’t do it until you read what I’m going to reveal next.
Using bleach on your Bimini top can terribly ruin the canvas, especially if you don’t know how to use it properly.
It degrades the material and stitching, reducing the lifespan of your Bimini top. You also don’t want your Bimini top to fade after a few months.
Bleach works magic when it comes to removing stains, but it can damage the vinyl, canvas, and other marine fabrics.
Here is an effective way to clean your Bimini cover without using bleach:
Step 1: Uninstall the Canvas from the Bimini Frame and Boat
The first step is to bring the Bimini top down from the frame by unclipping it. You want to uninstall it carefully to avoid tearing the marine canvas down.
This should be a simple task, especially if you are working with a smaller Bimini top installed on a two bow frame set up.
For larger Bimini tops, be sure to take your time when unclipping the canvas, as some marine fabrics may not be as sturdy as you think.
Keep in mind that the extended sun exposure also makes the material a bit flimsy and reduces its quality.
Step 2: Lay the Canvas Down
Once you remove the marine canvas, lay it down on a flat surface, preferably on the driveway or patio.
Put some weights or stones on the canvas’ edges to prevent it from being lifted by the wind or getting dirtier and complicating the cleaning work.
You can dust the marine canvas off when laying it down to remove loose debris. And when laid out, use a soft bristle brush to dislodge larger dust patches and dirt from the marine canvas.
Avoid using a harsh or abrasive brush as it can damage the canvas. So, if you don’t have a soft bristle brush, you can simply use a clean rag to remove excess dirt.
One more handy hint, you can use a boat vacuum to pull all the crud and leave the Bimini top with no large patches of dirt.
Step 3: Wash the Canvas with a Pressure Washer and a Soft Bristle Brush
If you have work gloves and goggles, wear them before grabbing the pressure washer.
Pressure washers come in handy when it comes to cleaning the various parts of a pontoon boat, from vinyl boat seats to the exterior.
If you don’t have one yet, the Sun Joe High-Pressure Washer might be a good buy. It’s an effective yet affordable option.
I have used the Sun Joe Pressure Washer several years to clean the various parts of my pontoon boat, including the Bimini top, and it indeed does a perfect job.
When cleaning a Bimini top, the best way to use a pressure washer or garden hose is to start with low pressure and shift to high pressure to hose until all the mold, mildew, and dust are dislodged.
Keep in mind that too much pressure can tear the canvas, especially if the soapy water jet hits a weak part.
Step 4: Leave the Bimini Top to Dry Out in the Sun
Once you finish cleaning the Bimini top and rinse all the soap residue, leave it outside to air dry in the sun. It should look new again after the entire cleaning process.
This cleaning method will remove about 95% of mold and mildew stains when done correctly.
It will take a few hours or even a whole day to dry the Bimini top, depending on its size.
Step 5: Coat the Bimini Top with 303 Protectant
The next thing you want to do once your Bimini top is dry is apply the protectant. Do not apply the protectant on a wet canvas as you won’t get any good results.
I usually use the Marine Grade 303 Protectant, which also comes with UV protection to keep the Bimini top safe against the sun.
The 303 protectant also prevents premature aging and discolorations common in pontoon boat Bimini tops. You can spray as much protectant as you feel comfortable using.
You can also double spray the weak areas that seem susceptible to damage, including the edges and seams.
Another impressive thing about the 303 protectant spray is that it helps keep dust and dirt at bay.
It also results in a smooth, non-oily matte finish that makes the canvas look new all the time.
Should I Use Bleach for My Pontoon Boat Cleaning Jobs?
You might also be wondering whether it’s okay to use some bleach on the Bimini canvas boat cover.
Well, I don’t recommend it, but I’ve heard of some pontoon boating enthusiasts who use bleach on their pontoon boat cleaning works.
Some people even claim to add bleach to the pressure washer itself, but most pressure washers manufacturers advise against it. It could ruin the washer and the Bimini canvas cover.
However, sometimes it’s necessary to take advantage of the bleach’s cleaning power when removing stubborn mildew stains.
You could dilute some bleach in a spray bottle with water to spray the target areas.
Once you spray the diluted bleach, blast the area with the pressure water to ensure that it doesn’t sit on the Bimini cover surface for a long time.
Q: What Can I Use to Clean My Bimini Top?
A: To clean your Bimini top, you can use warm water with gentle soap and a soft bristle brush. Liquid dishwashing soap is an awesome detergent in this case.
Then leave the soapy cleaning solution to sit on the cover for about 15 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing with clean water.
For Bimini tops with insistent mildew and mold stains, you can mix a gallon of water, a cup of bleach, and a ¼-cup of mild cleaning soap (liquid dishwashing soap).
Then apply the bleach solution on the Bimini top after regular cleaning and let it soak on the spots for about 15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
Q: How Do You Remove Mildew from a Pontoon Boat Cover?
A: You can remove mildew from a boat cover by brushing it off and cleaning it with soapy water.
I highly recommend using a soft brush to dislodge excess dirt and dust from the cover before cleaning it with water.
To clean your canvas Bimini cover, use a pressure washer to apply soapy water on the surface and let it sit just a couple of minutes before rinsing it off.
Then continue hosing off the boat cover to remove all the mildew.
If there are some persistent stains of tough mildew, light cleaning may not be enough.
In such cases, it may be appropriate to apply a mixture of one gallon of water, a cup of bleach, and a ¼ cup of mild soap on the cover.
Then let the solution soak for about 10 to 15 minutes before hosing off with clean water.
Once you remove all the mildew, leave the cover to dry completely and apply a waterproofing and UV resistant finish.
It’s important to keep in mind that fungal infestations like mildew and mold will keep coming on your boat cover. So, you need to keep the canvas clean by washing it regularly. This way, you’ll keep mildew and mold at bay.
If you don’t clean the boat cover often to eliminate instant mildew spots, the fungal infestations will eat through the canvas.
Q: What is the Best Way to Clean Boat Canvas?
A: The best way to clean canvas top is by using a very mild soap solution. But before you hose the cover with the cleaning solution, be sure to remove any loose dirt and dust with a soft auto pole brush.
Do not use harsh chemicals on the canvas as it reduces water repellency and UV resistance. Bleach also causes discoloration and can weaken the canvas stitches.
You may also be wondering whether you can machine wash your boat canvas. Well, I’d say that it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to clean a boat canvas top in a washing machine unless you have a huge one at home.
However, most coin laundry guys have large machine washers that can accommodate the size of a boat cover for efficient cleaning.
You won’t find these laundromats in every other place in town, but you can check near marinas or docks if you really need machine washing for your Bimini top.
I’ve also heard of pontoon boat owners who throw the Bimini tops for their pontoon boats into a swimming pool overnight, then rinse it off in the morning.
Bimini tops serve a great purpose on your pontoon boat as it keeps you safe from the sun, heat, rain, and even bird droppings.
So, don’t be surprised when you find that your Bimini top is filled with dirt, dust, and debris after a few weeks of regular use in the boating season.
Cleaning ideas may differ from one pontoon boat owner to another, but my simple rule is to remove most mildew and mold stains, dust, and dirt.
And you can quickly achieve this by cleaning the Bimini top regularly with mild soapy water. If you want a thorough cleaning, though, with a machine washer, you can always seek help from a local laundromat.