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Essential Boat Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Boat Shipshape

When it comes to owning a boat, maintenance is essential for ensuring the longevity, safety, and performance of your boat. Winterization and summerization are two great times to prepare your boat for the next season, conduct regular cleaning, and check parts.


Winterization involves preparing your boat for storage during the winter and protecting it from the harsh winter elements (or critters). Your goal is to prevent freezing and cracking of the hull, damage to the engine, and deterioration of the interior.

Winterization involves the following:

  • Disconnecting the battery and electronics.

  • Drain all water from the engine, plumbing systems, livewells, etc.

  • Add antifreeze to plumbing systems.

  • Prepare, fog, and stabilize the engine.

  • Change engine fuel filters and any fuel/water separators.

  • Removing drain plugs and hoses.

  • Secure the cover for winter.

  • Inspect the boat’s exterior and interior. Clean the boat’s exterior and interior.

  • Store your winterized boat.

Summerization (De-winterize)

Summerization involves undoing the winterizing and preparing the boat for the lake. The goal is to make sure your boat is shipshape, identify and resolve any winter damage, and ensure your boat is ready and safe for the water.

Summerization involves the following:

  • Take the cover off.

  • Check your canvas and vinyl materials.

  • Check and refill the cooling system.

  • De-winterize the livewell.

  • Check and reconnect the battery.

  • Check and reconnect electronics.

  • Change the oil, inspect the outdrive, and check the engine.

  • Check the cables, hoses, and fuel system

  • Inspect, clean, and repair your boat cover.

  • Inspect the boat’s exterior and interior.

  • Clean the boat’s exterior and interior.

  • Ensure safety gear (ex: fire extinguishers, flares, etc.) is in order and lifejackets are onboard.

  • Check that all navigational lights are functioning.

Clean the Boat’s Exterior & Interior

For both winterization and summerization, you will want to clean the exterior and interior of the boat. Depending on how often you go out on the boat, you may want to clean a few times throughout the summer. Over time, your boat can accumulate dirt, dust, grime, and algae.

For the interior, you will want to:

  • Vacuum.

  • Wash the vinyl, leather, and carpets.

  • Clean the cup holders, tables, and storage.

  • Condition the leather and vinyl.

  • Clean the windows.

  • Remove and treat stains.

For the exterior, you will want to:

  • Wash the boat & engine.

  • Clean the trailer .

  • Clean the hull.

  • Buff to remove oxidation.

  • Polish and wax to protect the finish.

Determining Your Boat Maintenance Approach

There is no one-size fit all for boat maintenance. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, create a checklist for winterization and summerization. You can always add to it and improve it over time. Most importantly, customize the checklist to fit your boat.

If you would prefer to hire someone, look for boat detailing services in your area. For Whitewater and Rice Lakes, the Boat House provides thorough detailing, winterization, and summerization services.

Alternatively, you could always do the cleaning yourself and leave the more technical aspects to a professional. A technician can examine the parts, make replacements, provide engine tune-ups, inspect fuel systems, change oil, etc.



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