Home > Kayak Theory > Maintenance > Kayak Wax – How To Clean And Protect Your Hull

Kayak Wax – How To Clean And Protect Your Hull

Mark Armstrong
Updated on:
- If you buy via a link on this page, we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you. Learn more
- Read our review guidelines

Discover the secrets to adding years to your beloved kayak’s lifespan, maintaining its allure and preserving its functionality.

Did you know that a humble product like kayak wax could be your greatest ally in maintaining your fiberglass or composite hull? You might be pondering, however, the safest way to go about this.

That’s where we come in. I’ve compiled this engaging guide to educate you on how to meticulously clean your plastic or composite kayak, and if necessary, wax it. Let’s embark on this fascinating journey together.

Kayak Wax - How To Clean And Protect Your Hull - Pinterest ImagePin

Wax On, Wax Off – Why Waxing A Kayak Is Important

Composite Kayaks

Applying a kayak wax to your vessel can give it that extra layer of protection against damage. This means it could boost the durability of the hull, helping to protect it from the sun’s harmful rays, as well as scratches or dents.

If you have a plastic/polyethylene vessel, you may not need to use a kayak wax, as kayak wax tends to be more recommended for composite vessels. However, you can still apply a protective coating that will give it an added layer of UV protection and help to enhance the color of the hull.

Polyethylene And Inflatable Kayaks

For the most part, polyethylene and inflatable yaks will generally not require kayak wax.

However, both types of vessels can benefit from applying a UV protection spray.

> How to clean an inflatable kayak

Keeping It Clean

While it may be important to protect your yak with a good wax, it is also important to keep it clean. Remembering to rinse off your vessel after each paddling session can help to keep your yak in tip top shape, especially if you’ve been paddling in saltwater.

Rinsing your craft with clean water and making sure it’s dry before you store it can help to prevent mildew from building up on your hull, which could happen if you store your kayak inside a cover while it’s still wet.

As well as rinsing your craft with clean water, you can also give it a more thorough cleaning by using a mild soap or boat wash. This can help you to get rid of any dirt or residue that might have built up on your hull.

Speed – Waxing Can Help Your Kayak Go Faster

It is thought that waxing your kayak may improve speed. This is because the wax could help to create a smoother surface that may be better able to glide through the water more efficiently.

However, the difference in speed may not always be noticeable.

Video: Waxing For Speed

What You’re Going To Need To Get Going

  • UV Protectant
  • Marine Wax for composite kayaks
  • Mild soap, such as dish soap or boat wash
  • Bucket
  • Water from hose
  • Sponge
  • Microfiber cloths (x2)

If you have a plastic kayak you will probably find you can get by without using the kayak wax, as you may discover that the wax doesn’t stick very well to the polyethylene. If you have a composite boat it’s possible to use both the wax and the UV protectant.

When it comes to cleaning your kayak, the process should be the same for both plastic and composite vessels, with mild soap and water being ideal. 

It’s not necessary to wash your kayak with soap and water every time you use it, but a few times a year is recommended. After each paddling session, simply rinsing in freshwater is fine.

What Type Of Wax Should I Use?

Marine grade wax is recommended for use on most composite kayaks as well as other types of marine vessels. You can also usually use car wax on your kayak, such as Turtle Wax.

There are various brands of marine wax that are suitable for kayaks. Just check that the one you choose is suitable for the specific types of materials on your kayak. 

Most waxes come in a bottle or tub and are designed to be applied either directly to the kayak or onto a cloth first. 

There are also waxes that come in spray bottles. These can sometimes be more convenient when it comes to applying it, as it can be sprayed quickly and evenly over the whole kayak. However, you might want to put a protective sheet down to protect other objects from the spraying wax. 

No matter which type of marine wax you choose, you will usually need to rub the wax onto the kayak using a microfiber cloth to ensure even and effective coverage.

How To Clean And Wax Your Kayak

Step 1: Pre-Wash

The first thing you should do is grab your garden hose and give your kayak a good rinse to loosen any dirt and generally rinse it off. 

It can be a good idea to use a spray setting on your hose, if you have one, as this can generally get into more areas and make the job a little quicker.

You might find it easier to do this by elevating your kayak off the ground in your backyard. 

Trestle tables or sawhorses can be useful. But if you don’t have anything like that laying around, you could also use patio furniture, like two chairs.

This lets you rinse the entire kayak with clean, fresh water without it getting dirty again on the ground. It can also dry quicker if the air can get around it.

You should rinse your kayak after each paddling session to help keep it in good condition and limit the amount of scrubbing you’ll have to do when it comes time to wash it.

You might want to remove your kayak seat before you wash it so that it can be washed and dried separately. Removing the seat can also let you access the hidden areas underneath. 

Step 2: Fill Your Bucket

Next, grab your bucket and your all-purpose mild soap or boat wash. 

Fill the bucket with clean, fresh water from your hose and add in some of your soap so that you have plenty of soap suds.

If you’re using a boat wash product, follow the instructions on the bottle regarding how much to add to your water bucket. This will ensure you get the right consistency of the product. 

You don’t need to wash your kayak’s hull with such thoroughness after every paddling session, but it can be a good idea to do this regularly. 

How frequently you do this will depend on how often you use it. A few times a year can be a good idea as part of your seasonal kayak maintenance. But it will also depend on the type of conditions you paddle in, for example salt water.

Step 3: Wash Your Kayak In Soapy Water

Grab your sponge and soak it in the soapy water in your bucket. This is where you might need to use some of your upper body strength to get scrubbing. 

Wash the entire kayak, making sure you get all sides of it, including underneath.

The nooks and crannies can sometimes be particularly stubborn so be sure to give these areas a thorough clean.  

Don’t forget about the storage hatches or any small storage areas that are built into the sides. Fishing rod holders and scupper holes can gather grime and dirt, so remember to clean those. 

If you have sliding foot braces, clean around these to make sure there’s no grit or dirt that might affect the functioning of the sliding system.

Remember to also clean your kayak seat. If you’ve removed it from the kayak beforehand then it can be cleaned separately. 

Step 4: Rinse It Off

Now that your kayak is fully clean and you’ve managed to clean off all the residue, it’s time to rinse the kayak with clean water. Grab your garden hose again and rinse the entire kayak so that all traces of soap suds are gone. 

You can use the spray setting on your garden hose again to rinse the soap off, like you did in the first step for the initial rinse.

Step 5: Let It Dry

Now that you’ve got rid of all the soap on your kayak, it’s time to have a little patience and wait for it to dry.

Leaving your kayak elevated off the ground will let air circulate around the entire hull, which can help to speed up the process. Remember, it’s best to leave the kayak outside to dry completely. But try not to leave it in direct sunlight. 

Try to find a shady spot under a tree or even in an open garage. This way you’ll help to prevent unnecessary UV damage to the hull. 

You might find it’s best to leave your kayak upside down to dry it. This way any water can drain out with gravity to help. 

If you want to speed up the drying process you can wipe down the kayak with clean, dry towels to get most of the moisture out before you leave it to air dry. 

How long you leave the kayak to air dry will depend on your weather conditions and humidity levels. In most cases, it’ll probably be a few hours for your kayak to become fully dry.

Step 6: Wax The Kayak

With your kayak fully clean and completely dry, it’s now time to apply the wax.

However, if you have a polyethylene kayak, you can skip to Step 9, as wax isn’t required for polyethylene kayaks. 

Grab one of your microfiber cloths and your wax. It can help if you lightly dampen the cloth first, so that the cloth doesn’t absorb too much of the wax when you go to apply it.

Apply the wax to the kayak. Use a small amount at first. Grab your cloth and use it to rub the wax onto the kayak. Apply it in circular motions to help spread it over the kayak’s hull. 

If you have a spray-on wax, then according to the instructions on the bottle, spray it over the kayak’s hull and use the microfiber cloth to rub it in. 

Make sure you apply the wax evenly over the kayak hull.

Step 7: Leave It To Dry Again

This part is important before starting on the next step.

It shouldn’t take too long for the wax to air dry. In most cases, the parts you started with will probably already be dry by the time you finish waxing the entire kayak. 

You should be able to feel the wax with your hands to tell if it’s fully dry.

Video: Kayak Protection With Wax

Step 8: Polish Your Kayak

With your kayak freshly waxed and dry, it’s time to start polishing.

Grab your clean, dry microfiber cloth and use it to polish off the wax.

Just like the way you put the wax on the hull, use circular motions to polish it off. 

This buffs the wax coating so that your kayak has a smooth, glossy finish.

Step 9: Apply UV Protectant Spray

A UV protectant spray can be great for all types of kayaks, whether it’s a plastic or composite kayak. This adds an extra layer of protection for your kayak for your kayak to minimize the risk of UV damage from the sun.

Make sure your kayak is completely dry before you do this. Then you can spray an even layer of the UV protectant spray over your whole kayak.

Once you’ve sprayed the product on, use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to buff it over your vessel. 

If you have used too much product you can use a wet cloth to mop it up. You will need to then buff with your dry cloth to make sure your kayak dries, as it won’t dry on its own.

Once your kayak is fully dry, you’re ready to hit the water.

Kayak Waxing – Common Questions

How Often Should I Wax My Kayak?

It’s generally recommended that you wax your kayak once or twice a year.

If you use the kayak frequently, you may want to stay closer to the twice-a-year mark. If you use the kayak less often, once a year can be fine.

Can I Use Car Wax On My Kayak?

Yes, most car waxes can be fine for use on kayaks.

Always check the label to make sure the car wax is suitable for your kayak material.

Do I Need To Remove The Old Wax Before Applying A New Coat?

The general consensus is no, you don’t need to remove old wax before applying a new coat.

Washing the kayak with soapy water and allowing it to dry first will usually suffice.

Can Waxing My Kayak Improve Its Performance?

Wax can create a smoother, shinier hull.

This can improve glide on a composite kayak, making the kayak more efficient on the water, which could also improve its speed.

Polishing Off (Conclusion)

Whether you want to use kayak wax to enhance the look of your vessel or to give it that extra layer of protection for added durability, it can be easy to do with the right products. 

Keeping your kayak clean and regularly protected can help to extend the life of your vessel, so it can be worth it in the end. Remember, when you’re choosing products to use, make sure they are safe for the material on your particular kayak, whether it be plastic or composite.

Do you wax your kayak? Or do you have any tips you’d like to share with us? Let us know. And if you think others might find this tutorial helpful, go ahead and share it. 

3 thoughts on “Kayak Wax – How To Clean And Protect Your Hull”

Leave a Comment