How to Clean Bimini Top (Of Mould & Mildew Stains)

How to Clean Bimini Top

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

How to Clean Bimini Top (2)

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
  • Water
  • 303 UV-Protectant spray
  • Gloves 

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:

Initial Cleaning Steps: Preparing Your Bimini

When it comes to Bimini top preparation, the key is to be thorough yet gentle to maintain the integrity of the marine canvas. As someone who’s zealous about marine canvas care, I start by meticulously brushing off any accumulated loose dirt with a soft-bristled brush. The objective here is to avoid embedding the dirt further into the fabric during the wet cleaning process.

Among the initial steps for cleaning Bimini, I place great emphasis on addressing contaminants such as bird droppings immediately. These can be particularly corrosive and, if left unattended, might cause permanent discoloration or damage to the fabric. For this, I use a dry rag to carefully lift as much of the debris as possible.

Post this preliminary cleaning, it’s time to wet the Bimini top, and this is where I opt for a gentle approach. Fortifying the Bimini against potential water pressure damage, I use a garden hose set to a mild spray setting. The focus is on dampening the canvas evenly, paying close attention to the seams, which are more prone to trapping dirt. It’s also quite an enjoyable step, as it’s delightfully refreshing on a warm day!

Remember, vigorous cleaning methods like pressure washing are discouraged, as they can fray and weaken the canvas fibers – a prelude to potential tears and fabric deterioration.

Here’s a tip: If your Bimini top has been up for some time and you’re preparing for its first clean of the season, you’ll likely encounter various forms of dirt that have settled into every fold and seam. It’s essential to unfold and expand the Bimini completely, ensuring water reaches every crevice for a comprehensive pre-rinse.

The table below offers a snapshot of the essential first steps to be taken for maintaining and cleaning your Bimini top:

1. Initial DustingGently brush off loose dirtPrevents grinding dirt into fabric
2. Remove ContaminantsPromptly spot clean areas with bird droppingsAverts corrosive damage and staining
3. Gentle WettingDampen with a garden hose on a soft settingSafeguards against water pressure damage to the canvas

Cleaning A Bimini Top Step by Step

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

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. 

Choosing the Right Cleaning Solutions

It’s imperative to understand that the cleaning agents I’ve mentioned are not the only considerations when maintaining your Bimini top. The market is replete with specialised products designed for mildew treatment and marine canvas stain removal that come without the risk of damaging the material’s protective coatings. Be sure to read your Bimini top manufacturer’s guidelines, as these will steer you towards the most suitable cleaning agents.

Below you’ll find a table summarising the best use-case scenarios and recommended products:

Cleaning ScenarioRecommended ProductMethod
Everyday Light CleaningWater with Mild Soap (e.g., Woolite)Brush on, soak, scrub, and rinse
Tackling MildewMildew Stain Remover (e.g., Star Brite)Apply, leave to penetrate, blot, and rinse
Stain RemovalBimini-Top Specific CleanerDirected application based on the product’s instructions
Protective TreatmentsUV Protectant Spray (e.g., 303 Aerospace)Spray evenly and leave to dry

It’s a simple, rewarding process that keeps your Bimini top looking it’s very best. And now, with the right knowledge at your fingertips, there’s nothing holding you back from maintaining that marine-grade elegance!

Deep Cleaning Techniques for Stubborn Stains

When I’m up against the challenge of stubborn stain removal on a Bimini top, my go-to strategy involves a meticulous process of deep cleaning Bimini top fabrics to ensure comprehensive marine canvas intensive care. If you’re ready to tackle those obstinate spots, let me walk you through the effective method I employ for those rather persistent offenders. It’s a straightforward routine that can restore the look of your marine canvas to its former pristine glory.

  1. Begin by concocting a powerful cleaning solution, blending household bleach with a gentle soap and warm water. This solution is the key to breaking down the grime and grit that ordinary cleaning just can’t handle.
  2. Once you’ve applied the mixture to the stained areas, patience is your ally. Allow it to sit and penetrate the fibres for around 15 minutes — think of it as giving the solution enough time to work its magic.
  3. After the wait, use a soft brush to gently but firmly agitate the stain. This action lifts and loosens the undesirable marks without putting undue stress on the Bimini top’s fabric.
  4. Rinsing is perhaps the most critical step. A thorough wash down ensures that no bleach mixture remains as residue, as this could lead to damage over time. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of this part of the process.

For those keen on specifics, here’s a table that outlines the exact proportions for creating this potent cleaning mix:

Household bleach1 cupDisinfects and removes tough stains
Mild soap1/4 cupGently cleanses without damaging fabric
Warm water1 gallonDilutes and helps distribute cleaning agents

In my journey through marine maintenance, I’ve learned that the most important aspect of keeping your Bimini top in optimal condition is regular and thorough cleaning. It can be a little daunting at first, especially when you’re eyeing those stains that seem like they’ve claimed permanent residency. But with the right approach and a bit of elbow grease, you’ll find that even the most stubborn stains bow out gracefully, leaving you with a Bimini top that reflects your boat’s well-kept spirit.

Should I Use Bleach for My Pontoon Boat Cleaning Jobs?

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. 

Protecting and Storing Your Bimini Top

As a dedicated boat owner, I understand the importance of the Bimini top when it comes to both comfort and vessel protection. It’s not just a matter of cleaning; safeguarding your Bimini top ensures it remains in impeccable condition for future outings. Let’s delve into the best practices for Bimini top protection, including how to correctly utilise a storage boot, transport your Bimini top securely, and care for it over the long term.

Covering Your Bimini: Storage Boot Use

If you’re not already utilising a storage boot for your Bimini, you’re missing out on a vital means of protection. This accessory acts as a shield, preserving the fabric from UV rays, moisture, and debris, thereby prolonging its life. Here’s where convenience meets functionality, as most boating suppliers offer storage boots suited to a variety of Bimini tops.

Safe Bimini Transportation: Lowering and Securing Tips

When it comes to transporting Bimini safely, the key is in the preparation. Before setting off, make sure you’ve properly lowered the Bimini and secured it to prevent any flapping or damage during transit. This helps to avoid unnecessary wear and tear or, even worse, damage to the structure of the Bimini itself.

Long-term Storage Solutions: Keeping Your Bimini Pristine

Thinking ahead for long-term marine canvas care is paramount. When your boat is laid up for the season, removing the Bimini top and storing it in a cool, dry environment away from direct sunlight is the ideal way to ensure it stays pristine for your next adventure.

  1. Utilise a tailor-made storage boot for effective Bimini top protection.
  2. Ensure you have properly lowered and secured your Bimini before transportation to safeguard against road vibrations and wind.
  3. Maintain long-term care by storing your Bimini in a controlled environment—this staves off potential mould and fabric degradation.
01/04/2023Cleaned with mild soapNo stains or damages detected
15/04/2023Secured Bimini for transportationChecked fastenings and framework
30/04/2023Applied water-repellent sprayPreparation for long-term storage



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. 

How often should I clean my Bimini top?

Light cleaning should be done regularly, especially after outings, to ensure that loose dirt doesn’t accumulate. For more comprehensive cleaning, it can depend on how frequently the boat is used and the environment it’s in. Professional cleaning every two to three years can complement your own maintenance routine.

What’s the best way to prepare my Bimini top for cleaning?

Start by brushing off any loose dirt with a soft brush or dry rag and then gently hose down the canvas, making sure to dampen the seams. Avoid high-pressure washing which may damage the fibres. Tackle contaminants like bird droppings promptly to prevent staining.

Can I use regular detergent to clean my Bimini top?

It’s best to avoid regular detergents as they can strip away the water- and UV-resistant coatings on the canvas. Use mild soap like Woolite or dishwashing liquid for light cleaning and check the manufacturer’s guidelines for recommended products.

What technique should I use for more persistent stains?

For stubborn stains and mildew, create a blend of bleach, mild soap, and water. Apply this mix to the affected areas, allow it to sit for 15 minutes, then gently brush and rinse thoroughly to avoid any residue being left on the fabric.

How do I protect my Bimini top when I’m not using my boat?

Utilise a storage boot if available to shield the fabric from the elements when not in use. If transporting your boat, lower and secure the Bimini to protect it. For extended downtime, consider removing the Bimini and storing it in a dry, sun-protected space.

Is it necessary to use a storage boot for the Bimini top?

Yes, a storage boot is greatly beneficial as it protects your Bimini top from weather and UV damage when you’re not using your boat. If your Bimini did not come with a boot, you can purchase one from boating equipment retailers.

What are the main benefits of regular Bimini top maintenance?

Maintaining your Bimini top regularly can enhance the aesthetic appeal of your pontoon boat, protect the boat and the passengers from the elements, and prevent wear and tear on the marine canvas, prolonging its lifespan and saving you money in the long run.

How do I maintain the UV protection on my Bimini top while cleaning?

To maintain UV protection, use cleaning agents that are recommended by the Bimini top manufacturer or ones specifically designed for marine fabrics. These have been formulated not to degrade the protective coatings present on the canvas.

Can mildew on the Bimini top be completely removed?

Yes, mildew can often be completely removed with proper cleaning techniques using a mixture of bleach, water, and mild soap. However, the key to preventing mildew is to keep the fabric dry and clean, so it doesn’t develop in the first place.

Are there specialised products for cleaning marine canvas like Bimini tops?

Absolutely, there are several purpose-built cleaners available on the market that are designed to clean marine canvas without damaging it. These products typically cater to the specific needs of boat canopy maintenance, addressing issues like saltwater and sun exposure.

Final Thoughts

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. 

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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