How To Clean An Inflatable Kayak? The Essential Guide

To clean an inflatable kayak, start by rinsing it with fresh water, then apply a mild soap solution, scrub gently, and rinse again. It’s crucial because regular cleaning prevents mold, prolongs your kayak’s life, and ensures peak performance. Whether after a salty sea adventure or a calm lake day, I find it essential to clean my kayak to keep it in top condition.

In this guide on “how to clean an inflatable kayak,” I’ll share the simple yet effective steps to keep your boat in pristine condition for years of adventure.

Cleaning An Inflatable Kayak

How to Clean an Inflatable Kayak: Step-by-Step 

Cleaning an inflatable kayak is essential for maintenance and performance. Start by rinsing with fresh water, apply mild soap, scrub gently, rinse again, and dry thoroughly. Protecting it with UV spray prolongs its life. Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide and Cleaning tips for an inflatable kayak.

Step 1: Materials Needed

Before we dive into cleaning your inflatable kayak, let’s make sure we have everything we need. It’s like gathering your art supplies before starting a painting. Here’s a simple list:

  • Freshwater (from your hose or a big bucket)
  • Mild soap (think of the kind you’d use on dishes)
  • Sponge or soft cloth (as gentle as petting a cat)
  • Towels (for drying, like after a bath)
  • UV protectant spray (it’s like sunscreen for your kayak)

With these items, you’re all set to start the cleaning adventure. Just like you wouldn’t paint without brushes, we can’t clean without these essentials. 

Step 2: Preparing for Cleaning

Think of preparing to clean your inflatable kayak like getting ready for a fun day at the beach. First, you want to pick the perfect spot and make sure you have all your beach toys. For cleaning your kayak, it’s pretty similar. Here’s how you get started:

  1. Choose a spot: Find a nice, flat area like your driveway or backyard. Make sure it’s okay to get wet and soapy.
  2. Gather your materials: Remember the list we talked about? Get your fresh water, mild soap, sponge or soft cloth, towels, and UV protectant spray ready.
  3. Remove accessories: Take off any extra parts from your kayak, like seats or storage bags. It’s like emptying your backpack before cleaning it.

By following these steps, you’re setting the stage for a successful cleaning session, just like planning ensures a fun day at the beach. 

Step 3: Cleaning Process

Cleaning your inflatable kayak is like giving it a spa day; it’s all about making it feel fresh and rejuvenated! Let’s dive into the steps to make sure your kayak gets the pampering it deserves.

Rinsing the Kayak 

First things first, we need to rinse off the kayak. Think of it as the pre-wash stage where you’re getting rid of the easy stuff.

  • How to: Use your garden hose or buckets of water to splash all over the kayak. Aim for a gentle shower to wet the surface thoroughly.
  • Focus on: Pay extra attention to places where dirt loves to hide, like under the edges and around the valves. These spots can collect sand and salt, especially after a beach day.

Applying Soap 

Now, it’s time for a bubble bath for your kayak. A little soap can go a long way in lifting that stubborn dirt.

  • Creating a soap solution: Mix a small amount of mild soap (the kind you’d use on your dishes) with water in a bucket. You’re looking for a soft sudsy mix, not a bubble party.
  • Scrubbing technique: Dip your sponge or cloth into the soap solution and gently scrub your kayak’s surface. Work in sections and be kind to your kayak. Use circular motions to coax the dirt out without being too harsh.

Rinsing Soap Off 

After the scrub, it’s crucial to get all that soap off. Leaving soap on can make the surface sticky and attract more dirt.

  • How to rinse: Use fresh water to thoroughly wash away all soap suds from your kayak. It’s like the final rinse after shampooing your hair; you want to make sure there’s no residue left.
  • Importance of no soap left behind: Ensuring all soap is rinsed off keeps your kayak’s material in top condition and prevents any soap scum from forming.

By following these steps, your inflated inflatable kayak will not only look inflatable kayak cleaner but also perform better on your next adventure. 

Step 4: Drying the Kayak

Just like after a splash at the pool, drying off is key. For your inflatable kayak, it’s not just about getting dry but also about caring for it so you can keep on paddling adventure after adventure. Here’s how to do it right:

Towel Drying

  • Why it’s Important: Towel drying helps remove most of the water from your kayak, especially those sneaky spots where water likes to hide.
  • How to Do It:
    • Use big, absorbent towels. Think of them as giant sponges ready to soak up water.
    • How do you clean the inside of a kayak? Start with the inside because it usually holds more water. Wipe down every inch, including under the seats and in any creases.
    • Flip the kayak over and dry the outside, too. Don’t forget the bottom!

Air Drying

  • Why It Matters: Air drying takes care of any moisture the towels didn’t catch. It’s like sunbathing after a swim to feel completely dry.
  • Best Practices:
    • Find a shady spot. Direct sunlight can harm the kayak’s material over time.
    • Open up all the valves and let the kayak partially inflate. This way, air can flow inside, helping to dry out those hidden wet spots.
    • How do you clean mildew off an inflatable kayak? Well, Rotate the kayak every now and then. This helps every part get air and avoids damp patches that could turn into mold or mildew.

Give it the time it needs, and you’ll be rewarded with a kayak that’s ready for your next adventure, smelling fresh and looking great!

Step 5:  Applying UV Protectant

Just like sunscreen protects our skin, a UV protectant shields your kayak from the sun’s harsh rays. After cleaning and drying, it’s time to give your inflatable kayak a little extra love to keep it looking new and extend its life.

  • Why It’s Important: The sun can fade and weaken your kayak’s material over time. A UV protectant works like a barrier, keeping it strong and vibrant.
  • How to Apply:
    • Choose a UV protectant spray designed for inflatable kayaks.
    • Spray evenly across all surfaces of your kayak, not just the parts that see the most sun.
    • Use a clean cloth to spread the protectant, making sure you cover every nook and cranny.
    • Let it dry according to the product instructions before packing away your kayak.

By following these steps, you’re not just cleaning your kayak; you’re investing in many more sunny days out on the water!

clean kayak

Final Step: Storing the Kayak

After your kayak is clean, dry, and protected, it’s time for a nap—not for you, but for the kayak! Storing it right means you’ll find it in perfect shape for your next adventure.

  • Find a Cool, Dry Spot: Your kayak loves shade and dislikes damp places. A garage, shed, or indoors works best.
  • Fold Gently: Avoid sharp folds. Gently roll or fold it, trying not to crease it in the same place every time.
  • Elevate: If possible, keep it off the floor to avoid any chance of water or pests getting to it.

By taking care with storage, you’re ensuring your kayak stays in top condition, ready for the next sunny day you call on it!

Closing Words

Knowing how to clean an inflatable kayak ensures your water adventures remain sparkling and safe. By following these steps, rinsing, soaping, drying, and protecting, you keep your kayak in peak condition, ready for the next adventure. Remember, a well-maintained kayak means more fun and fewer worries on the water. 


What is the best thing to clean a kayak with?

Mild soap and fresh water are best for cleaning a kayak. They effectively remove dirt without damaging the kayak’s material.

What kind of soap do you use on a kayak?

Use a mild, biodegradable soap to clean your kayak. It’s gentle on the kayak’s surface and safe for the environment.

How do you disinfect a kayak?

To disinfect a kayak, use a solution of mild soap and water, or a mixture of water and white vinegar. Avoid harsh chemicals.

How do you dry an inflatable kayak?

Towel dry as much water as possible, then let it air dry in a shaded area until completely dry to prevent mold and mildew.

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