A custom boat cover can last 15-20 years—IF you take care of it properly. At Canvasworks, we’ve learned a thing or two about maintaining canvas after working with the material for more than four decades. 

Whether you have a Top Notch ® boat cover (a high-quality 11.5-ounce material made by Marlen Textiles that is our main boat cover fabric), a Sunbrella ® boat cover (another popular customer choice), or another top-of-the-line fabric custom cover designed by our team to fit your boat, you need to keep it clean.

Follow our tips and tricks to keep your custom boat cover looking and performing great for years to come!

General Guide to Boat Cover Cleaning & Storing

No matter the type of fabric used for your boat cover, there are several rules of thumb you should always follow when cleaning and storing it. 

Be Gentle

A dirty boat cover might have you reaching for the pressure washer, but that would be a mistake. Even a heavy-duty boat cover can be ruined by power washing because the water pressure removes the protective finish on the canvas and can damage the threads, shortening the effective lifespan of your cover.

Be gentle when it comes to boat canvas cleaners, too. Although some canvases will tolerate mild soap or other cleaning solutions, we've always found pure, plain ol' water to be enough for most jobs. 

Brush loose dirt and debris off your boat cover before gently washing it with a soft brush and clear flowing water. 

If there are stains, make sure to follow the care instructions before introducing any cleaning products. Always let your canvas air dry!

Use & Store It Properly

Only use your boat cover for its intended use; do not use any cover that is not made for outdoor winter storage as a winter storage cover unless it is specifically designed to handle the snow loads and winter conditions. Mooring covers should never be used for travel either. They are designed to shed water, not for travel. 

When storing your boat with the cover on, please don't keep your boat under the trees or in the shade (which promotes mold growth), and make sure your cover is clean and dry before storing it. 

Folding your cover while it's still wet or damp can also allow mold to grow!

Lastly, never roll your canvas up and leave it on the floor, which can attract mice and other pests. We recommend tying a rope around the boat cover and hanging it from the rafters in your garage or purchasing a METAL garbage bin with a tight fitting lid for storage. 

Make Repairs ASAP

If you notice any holes, tears, rotted seams, missing snaps, or other flaws in your boat cover, make sure to have them repaired as soon as possible. 

Maintaining your canvas products and repairing minor issues before they worsen can save you a lot of money in the short and long run.

Manufacturer’s Cleaning Instructions

Just like your favorite clothes or posh sofa, your boat cover's fabric may have some specific care instructions that keep the material clean, long-lasting, and performing at its best. 

Sunbrella ® and Top Notch ® know their materials and the proper way to care for them better than anyone, so be sure to follow their instructions. 

You can typically find the care instructions on the manufacturer’s website, like How to Clean Sunbrella ® and Top Notch ® Care and Cleaning

Cleaning Snap Studs

When you have a snap-on boat cover, it’s easy to forget about the snaps. But it’s important to regularly check that they are also free of dirt and corrosion. 

Check out our video on how simple it is to clean your snaps with denatured alcohol, paper towels, and WD-40!

Caring for Your Boat Tops

Along with your boat covers, your bimini, fisherman, and sun tops should be cared for regularly, too.

To ensure the hardware, framing, and fabric stay in prime condition for the boating season, remember to:

  • Clean the frame thoroughly with a gentle cleanser at least once a year.

  • Replace any missing or broken parts right away.

  • Wash out and dry fasteners, clips, and zippers when you notice them gathering dirt or debris.

  • Never power wash your fabric top. Instead, use clear water, a gentle cleanser, and a soft bristle brush once a month to lift dirt and debris off your fabric. 

  • Apply a fabric guard to preserve your top’s water-repellent coating after each cleaning. 

For more tips on cleaning your bimini or other tops, check out our post specifically about how to care for your bimini top

Order Your Custom Boat Cover From Canvasworks

Even with regular cleaning, an off-the-shelf boat cover simply can’t compete with the lifespan of a custom product. We should know – we’ve been in the business of making custom boat covers at our shop in Cokato, Minnesota since 1979!

If you want the best possible protection for your boat, investing in a custom-made, high-quality boat cover is the way to go. When you have a custom cover made specifically for your boat, it will fit better and last longer than off-the-shelf products, which are prone to premature wear and tear due to the lesser quality materials and imperfect fit. 

If you’re interested in a custom boat cover, contact Canvasworks today at 320-559-0165 or through our Contact page.