Category: Learn

How To Clean An Inflatable Kayak (6 Simple Steps)


by Thomas Moore

Share this article:

One of the most important parts of taking good care of an inflatable kayak is cleaning it, and it’s important to know how to clean an inflatable kayak. So, your kayak’s lifespan depends on how you take care of it.

Salty water, dust, mildew, and improper storage are the main culprits that damage your paddle boat. Your kayak can be dirty enough even after a single trip.

Thus, you need to follow a proper cleaning routine for your kayak, which is a critical point. Furthermore, if you want to use an inflatable kayak for a long time, i.e., for permanent usage, you must clean and dry it properly.

In this article, we will highlight simple and easy cleaning steps. By following these steps, you can keep your inflatable kayak in top condition and extend its lifespan.

But first, let’s find out the reasons why a kayak gets dirty. Knowing the reasons, you can avoid them.

How to clean an inflatable kayak
Source: How to clean the ITIWIT 3 by Wild Badger Trek, YouTube

How Did Kayaks Become So Dirty?

Several reasons could make your inflatable kayak dirty and unable to be used for a long time.

The top reasons include dirty launching points, salty and muddy water, ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and different chemicals. Furthermore, dirt can be accumulated by chemicals released from other resources.

Another reason that can promote germs, dirt, and foul odor is not drying the kayak entirely before storing it. Make sure you dry out the kayak before you pack it into its storage case, as the moisture will remain.

No ventilation to allow air passage around your entire paddleboard increases the likelihood of mold and mildew growth. Besides all the above, foul or hard water makes kayaks greasy, spotted, and unclean.

After knowing our simplest method, the kayakers can go on any water adventure with their spotless inflatable kayaks. Let’s get the ball rolling!

How To Clean An Inflatable Kayak In 6 Simple Steps

If you are back home, it is time to thoroughly clean your kayak. Whether you’re rolling up your kayak for a long time or temporarily putting it away, cleaning it is crucial. Moreover, you should know how to store an inflatable kayak, and storing it in a dry place should be the next important step.

Also, if your kayak is returning after spending time in saltwater, the outer layer of it must be damaged. The harsh minerals in the water end up destroying the outer layer.

Most inflatable kayaks, on the other hand, have a UV protective coating to help them last longer. If you don’t do a proper rinse, the residue you might have collected while kayaking can ruin the coating.

Therefore, you all must know how to clean an inflatable kayak. Let’s go over these six simple steps:

  • Wipe your kayak with a towel before going home.
  • Take off everything you can.
  • Wash the kayak with soap and water.
  • Rinse the kayak with fresh water.
  • Dry your kayak.
  • Apply 303 protectant.

1. Wipe Your Kayak With A Towel Before Going Home

Wipe your kayak with a towel.

In many cases, cleaning the entire kayak on the beach is impossible. You may have taken your kayak out in a dirty, sandy, muddy, and grimy area where you couldn’t have fresh, clean water to rinse it.

In this case, you can use a towel to wipe the kayak down. This way, you can remove sand and other dirt and prepare your inflatable kayak for transport.

Once you are done wiping, you can quickly load the kayak into a car.

2. Take Off Everything You Can

Whether it’s inflated or deflated, cleaning your kayak is possible. Although it is much easier to clean a deeply inflated one.

Firstly, disassemble and remove additional gears from your boat. This includes all side-mounted, side-attached gear like a removable seat or footrest and detachable gear from your kayak’s base. The same goes for equipment like a fishing rack or kayak cooler.

When you take off all the gear, it will be much easier to thoroughly clean the kayak.

Also, ensure you remove skegs, rudders, paddles, thwarts, and directional stabilizers because all attachments and equipment should be well cleaned, rinsed, and dried before being set aside.

Even if you plan to go out on your kayak in a week, you will need to remove the attachment to do a thorough cleaning. Moreover, if your kayak is inflated, I suggest you detach the floor to wash it separately.

3. Wash The Kayak With Soap And Water

The third step in our guide on how to clean an inflatable kayak is to wash it with water and soap.

You can use a mixture of mild soap and lukewarm freshwater or a special inflatable boat cleaner. This mixture helps your kayak get rid of accumulated grime and dirt. If you kayak in saltwater, then this step is mandatory.

Also, you can now use a soft bristle brush or a towel to scrub your kayak with soapy water. You must also ensure that you clean the cockpit since water from the lakes will sneak into the kayak’s cockpit via drips from the paddle.

Cleaning the cockpit can take time and is a tedious task. However, you can accomplish it quickly and easily with effort and a little patience.

Firstly, clean the debris from the surfaces of the cockpit. Use a soft brush and that soapy mixture to remove dust and gunk. Pay more attention to the areas where your hands and feet go, as this is where most dirt accumulates.

On the other hand, when cleaning the seats, use a damp cloth. Keep the seats free from dirt, water, and sand. You can also use a vacuum cleaner to throw away all the debris. However, the mixture of soap and water can work as well.

As the rudder helps you steer and the skegs keep your boat straight, cleaning them is also important. When the kayaks are taken on saltwater adventures, the skeg and rudder get filthy with salt and sand, and even the fish scales build up over time. Use hot water after scrubbing them with a mixture of soap and water. Use a toothbrush to do deep cleaning.

Cleaning your gear is also suitable for hygiene and will assist the kayaking environment in getting rid of unwanted smells. Furthermore, it is crucial to clean the base of the kayak. Flip your kayak and use that mixture of soap and water to scrub down the base. After that, clean the side chambers as well.

Moreover, never use cleaners containing ammonia or bleach, as these are toxic and could damage the interior of your watercraft.

4. Rinse The Kayak With Fresh Water

Clean your inflatable kayak with fresh water.
Source: How to clean the ITIWIT 3 by Wild Badger Trek, YouTube

Once you have washed your inflatable kayak, rinse the soap out of the sponge with fresh running water. It would be better to run clean water from the hose over your paddleboat. You can also use the sponge to help wash away the soapy mixture.

5. Dry Your Kayak

The fifth step in our guide on how to clean an inflatable kayak is to dry the kayak; this is a very important step in the process of cleaning the kayak.

As said earlier, not drying your kayak and storing it directly in the garage after a water trip boosts mold and mildew development.

We have collected some methods for drying an inflatable kayak. The method that will work effectively really depends on your location and whether you have ample space or the ability to use that drying method.

The most straightforward method is to use a towel and remove all the moisture. Once you are done with a complete wipedown of your kayak, go over it again with a clean, dry towel to make sure that your towel has collected all the excess moisture.

Whereas if you have a big garage and backyard, letting your kayak air dry is the best method to eliminate excessive moisture. A gentle breeze and the open air can dry your kayak out if it’s kept on the deck or backyard.

Also, you can hang your kayak in a garage where the breeze can quickly come through without worrying about sun exposure.

Furthermore, avoid ultraviolet damage to your boat by keeping it out of the sun for a long time. Extreme sun exposure to harmful UV rays damages the outer layer of the kayak. This is especially true if you routinely dry your kayak under the sun.

6. Apply 303 Protectant

The last step is to apply a 303 protectant to a kayak. Most of all, 303 Protectant protects against fading and discoloration. It also protects your kayak from UV rays. So after spending a few hours in the water in the sun, your kayak will look as good as new.

Video On How To Clean An Inflatable Kayak

Below, I will leave the video where you can see clearly how to clean an inflatable kayak.


In conclusion, cleaning your inflatable kayak is an important part of its maintenance and will ensure that it lasts for years to come. It is a simple process that can be done with just a few basic tools and some mild soap. So, if you want to extend the life of your inflatable kayak, clean it thoroughly before storing it. Follow our simple steps on how to clean an inflatable kayak, and your kayak will look spick and span.

Share this article:

Written by:

Hi, my name is Thomas, and I am a kayaker with over a decade of experience. I enjoy this outdoor water activity and also enjoy writing posts for this blog that help people learn more about kayaking.