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Kayak Wax – How To Clean And Protect Your Hull

Mark Armstrong
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No matter how durable your kayak might be, it may eventually suffer from a little bit of wear and tear. But all is not lost. There are things you can do to help prolong the life of your craft and help keep it looking its best.

Kayak wax can be a useful tool in helping to preserve a fiberglass or composite hull. But you may be wondering how to actually do this safely.

That’s why we’ve put together this short guide, to help you learn how to safely clean your plastic or composite kayak and wax it if you need to.

Wax On, Wax Off – Why Waxing Your 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.

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 yak 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.

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


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.

How To Clean And Wax Your Plastic/Composite Kayak

Step 1: Rinse Your Kayak

Grab your garden hose and give your kayak a good rinse to loosen any dirt and generally rinse it off.

Step 2: Fill Your Bucket

Next, grab your bucket and your mild soap or boat wash. Fill the bucket with clean water from your hose and add in some of your soap. If you’re using a boat wash product, follow the instructions on the bottle regarding how much to add to your water bucket.

Step 3: Wash Your Kayak

Soak your sponge in the soapy water in your bucket and start washing your kayak. Remember to wash both sides. If you have any stubborn marks you might need to go over them a couple of times till they’re gone.

Step 4: Rinse It Off

After you’ve washed the hull with your soapy water, rinse it in clean water using your hose. Make sure it’s properly rinsed and there’s no soap or suds left on your boat.

Step 5: Let It Dry

With your kayak fully rinsed and clean, let it dry. You can either let it air dry or grab a towel to help speed up the process.

For plastic kayaks, or if you want to skip the waxing process, you can jump ahead to step 9.

Step 6: Wax It

Using one of your microfiber cloths, apply the wax. If it’s a spray, spray it onto your hull then gently rub it on with your microfiber cloth. It can be a good idea to make sure your cloth is slightly damp before you rub it on.

Step 7: Leave It To Dry

Once you’ve applied the wax to your kayak, leave it to dry. You might find the parts you started first have dried by the time you finish.

Video: Kayak Protection

Step 8: Polish It Off

Now that the wax is dry you can grab your clean, dry microfiber cloth and start polishing your hull. This should give it a nice sheen and make it look a little brighter.

Step 9: Apply UV Protector Spray

To give your kayak that extra layer of protection, spray it with the UV Protectant. Your yak must be dry before you spray this.

Once you’ve sprayed the product on, use a clean, dry 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 yak is dry, you should be ready to hit the water.

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. 

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