5 Ways to Clean a Jet Ski Cover the Right Way

Jet ski covers are a lifesaver against the elements, but many people are unsure of how to clean them the right way. In fact, there are a few ways you may clean a jet ski cover! If one isn’t available to you, at least you’ll have more options.

What 5 ways are there to clean a jet ski cover?

  1. Use a professional washing machine without a center agitator, like those that can be found at some laundromats.
  2.  Manually clean it with a scrub brush, soap, and hose.
  3. Apply a mold and mildew remover.
  4. Pressure wash the gunk off of it.
  5. Wash with water and bleach, but be careful, as this will bleach your cover and ruin whatever color it is.

Obviously, some of these are more ideal than others. Using plain bleach water should be your last option, as it’ll ruin whatever color or designs are on your cover. With pressure washing, you’ll only get off the worst of it off, versus the deeper cleaning of the other options.

Can You Wash a Jet Ski Cover?

Many people notice the mold and mildew build up and find themselves wondering if throwing it in the washing machine will damage it or if there’s another way to wash it.

Can you wash a jet ski cover? Yes, you can, either in the washing machine or by hand, as we just went over in the previous section. However, you can only wash one that isn’t crumbling or falling apart. Attempting to wash a cover that simply needs to be replaced will only cause it to disintegrate.

Some people prefer to wash their covers on a semi-regular basis to prevent any mold build up. This is typically once a year, after the summer when you’ll be going out on the jet ski frequently.

If you follow all the methods below, and nothing works, it’s time to buy a new cover. These 3 links take you specific Watercraft Superstore covers for custom fit for your ski on Amazon. You can save money and still get quality compared to buying from the manufacturer, unless you absolutely have to have that extra $100 logo on the cover. Just choose your specific ski from their lists.

The 5 Different Ways to Wash a Jet Ski Cover 

We already told you the five different ways you can wash a jet ski cover. Now, we’ll give the instructions on each method. Some things to keep in mind when deciding the best option for cleaning your cover are:

  • How dirty is it? A bit of mold and mildew can be easily taken care of with a little mold remover. However, you’ll need to take a brush, hose, and some soap to a cover that falls in the mud.
  • Don’t forget to follow through. 
Mold on Jet ski cover before washing

1. How to Wash a Jet Ski Cover in a Washing Machine

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t just throw your cover into just any washing machine. Those with a center agitator tend to twist up the cover, and if you have any preexisting holes or tears in it, the agitator may make them worse. Instead, look for a washer without an agitator.

It’s very simple to know if the washer will handle your cover. Front load washers don’t have agitators, while most top loaders do, so go for the front loader. If it takes up more than two thirds of the machine, you need one bigger washing machine for a good, deep clean.

Most standard washers are a bit too small for jet ski covers. Of course, try your washing machine first, just in case it does! If it doesn’t, you’ll need to find a laundromat nearby. These typically offer standard washing machines as well as larger ones, which will hold your cover easily.

Once you’ve found an appropriately-sized washing machine, following these steps to wash your cover, as found here by PWR Sports.

  1. Load the cover into the machine.
  2. Use ¼ cup of Simple Green (available from Amazon) all-purpose cleaner as the detergent.
  3. Wash it on the gentle cycle.
  4. Rinse twice, to make sure all of the cleaner is washed out.

Of course, you can use other cleaners aside from Simple Green’s. However, as it’s a natural product and eco-friendly, you won’t have to worry about any possible residue getting on your jet ski and poisoning the water when you take it out.

2. How to Wash a Jet Ski Cover with a Brush, Hose, and Soap

If you only need to clean a small part of your cover, or you don’t want to put it into a washing machine for fear of damaging it, you can clean it yourself with a brush, hose, and Simple Green, or another eco-friendly cleaner.

When you’re cleaning your cover yourself, without using any machines, you’ll have to spend some time scrubbing. This is the most reliable way to get out deep, ground in dirt, mold, mildew, and anything else your cover has collected.

The one trouble with this method is the space you need to accomplish it successfully. Ideally, you’ll be able to spread it out on a flat surface to spray it down, if you’re cleaning the whole thing. If you’re only spot treating, it’ll be a bit easier as you’ll only need access to one or two spots. Here’s how to clean your cover yourself.

  1. Mix one ounce of Simply Green or a similar cleaner, with a quart of warm water.
  2. Soak your cover with the cleaning mixture. Many people like to put it in a spray bottle and spray the cover down with it.
  3. Grab your brush and scrub into it, working the cleaner deep into the ground in dirt.
  4. Rinse it thoroughly, until you aren’t seeing suds anymore.

Another option is to spot treat it before you wash it. This way, you’ll get the stains out, but you won’t have to wash the entire cover by hand.

3. How to Use a Mold and Mildew Remover on a Jet Ski Cover

Mold and mildew remover is a lifesaver for many mariners. It’s a simple product you just spray on your cover whenever you notice it’s getting funky smelling again, or you see mold appearing. Regular use of it will also prevent mold and mildew from happening.

The most commonly used for this is Star Brite’s Outdoor All Surface Mold and Mildew Stain Remover. However, if you want to look into other options, you’ll need to make sure you’re purchasing one safe for using on your cover.

Many mold and mildew removers you’ll find when simply searching for one online are intended to be used on tile and grout in bathrooms. These will remove the mold and mildew for sure, but they aren’t intended for this kind of material. You should look for one intended for marine usage, safe for fabrics, or an all surface cleaner like Star Brite’s.

These removers have different instructions based on which you select, of course, but in general, you’ll simply need to apply the remover and either allow to sit or scrub the product into the cover. Make sure and follow the instructions carefully when cleaning it, or you could damage your cover.

4. How to Pressure Wash Your Jet Ski Cover Clean

Pressure washing can really help blast some of the build-up on your cover. While this won’t get it as clean as washing it in a machine or by hand, it’s a good option when you just need to get the gunk out off of the cover. This is especially helpful if your cover had an encounter with mud.

If your cover has a problem with mold, this isn’t your best option. You’ll have little to no results by simply blasting it with pressurized water. Instead, save your pressure washer for the really dirty covers.

Like spot treating, you’ll need an area you can spread the cover out so you can see what spots on it needs more cleaning than others. Once you have it spread out, you’re ready to spray it down.

  1. Pick one area to start one. Typically, you’ll want to start and one end and work towards the other.
  2. Slowly move the water stream across the cover, working from left to right and then up, as if you’re cleaning it in rows.
  3. If any stains remain after being pressure washed, you’ll need to spot clean it by hand.

As you can see, pressure washing your cover is typically only done when it’s really muddy or dirty. Many people choose to wash it, either in the machine or by hand, after spraying it down to make sure it’s clean all the way through.

5. How to Wash Your Jet Ski Cover with Bleach

If you’ve tried everything else to get your cover clean without any luck, you may consider bleach. However, it’s very important to note that you must be sure you have rinsed all the bleach from your cover before you can use it. Otherwise, some bleach residue may make it onto the jet ski and into the water.

You can also use Oxiclean instead of bleach for this, which is safer for your cover, but you’ll still need to thoroughly rinse any of it off of the cover before you can use it. You’ll use a washing machine here too, to make sure the bleach isn’t too concentrated. Here’s how:

  1. Prep your machine the same way we described earlier under “How to Wash Your Jet Ski Cover with Bleach.”
  2. Once your machine is prepped, you’re ready to add your bleach or OxiClean. Follow the washer’s instructions on how much to use, or check your bottle.
  3. Allow it to wash on gentle cycle, with two rinses.
  4. If you’re worried about any residue, you can always run it through again without any detergent or bleach.

With this method, you’ll get every last stain out. I learned that a heavily molded cover needs to soak in Oxiclean for a few hours before putting it through a wash cycle. However, this should still be your last option. The struggle to rinse all of the bleach or OxiClean out isn’t worth it if you don’t have to. One way to prevent fading your logos and printed cover graphics is to soak only the molded portion of the cover, leaving the logos out of the solution. Or tape them off with waterproof tape.

What to Do After You’ve Washed Your Jet Ski Cover

Once you’ve washed your jet ski cover, you still have a couple things to do. If you noticed, we haven’t dried it! After it’s dry, you’ll need to reapply a waterproofing product, even if you only spot cleaned it. Some people like to apply the waterproofing product even after pressure washing.

If you only used a mold remover on your cover, you don’t need to worry about waterproofing it again. However, many people suggest reapplying a waterproofing product once a year to maintain good protection, just like you may want to regularly apply a mold remover.

Another suggestion to get the most life out of your cover is to make sure your jet ski is dry before you put the cover on it. The less water your cover comes in contact with, the less of a problem you’ll have with mold.

How to Dry Your Jet Ski Cover After You Wash It

You should never try to put your jet ski cover in the dryer.

Dryers are infamous for shrinking things, and jet ski covers are no different. Your cover should already fit tightly on your jet ski, and putting it in the dryer may ruin it for good by shrinking it. Not all covers will shrink, but you never know which will and which won’t.

Instead, you should allow it to air dry. This is easiest in the summer when you can simply put it out on the line. If you don’t have this option, though, you can either find somewhere inside to allow it to dry off or just put it on your jet ski and allow it to dry on there.

How to Waterproof Your Jet Ski Cover After You Wash It

Your ski cover will quickly get moldy and stinky if it isn’t waterproof. Before the factory sends it to stores, they’ll coat it in a waterproof material. However, that won’t last forever, and you’ll need to reapply it.

Reapplying it fairly easily, typically coming in an aerosol can you quickly spray the cover with and leave to dry.

Star Brite is another favorite for many people here, as their waterproof spray also prevents stains and protects against UV lights, which can bleach out the color of your cover. However, there are many other products that will work as well.

When looking into other waterproofing products, you should use the same requirements you would with a mold and mildew remover. Remember, you want something fabric safe, marine friendly, or a simple all-purpose.

Why Should You Clean Your Jet Ski Cover?

There’s a lot of reasons people prefer not to clean their jet ski covers. However, at least using a mold and mildew spray on it regularly will extend the life of it significantly, typically doubling or tripling it.

Jet ski covers typically only last a year or two before accumulating mold and mildew, which is simply gross and cause enough to throw it away. There are a few different sprays you can find that are specifically intended for being used on fabrics that come in contact with water frequently, like boat or jet ski covers.

While using a mold and mildew remover spray will add a year or two to the lifespan of your cover, it won’t get everything out of the cover. You’ll still have any stains from spilled drinks, mud, and everything else you get on it over time. For these stains, you’ll have to wash it.

Washing your jet ski cover occasionally will keep help prevent the accumulation of mold and mildew even better than a spray remover. If you notice your cover quickly collects moldy spots, you should consider washing it, possibly with bleach, to get a deeper clean than simple spray or spot treatment.

Why Shouldn’t You Clean Your Jet Ski Cover?

Now that we’ve gone over all the good aspects of cleaning your jet ski cover, we need to look into the bad ones. There are several jet ski owners who have sworn off washing their covers. Why?

  • Older, more brittle covers will disintegrate in the washer. If your cover is old and stiff, you won’t be able to wash it to save it or make it last longer. In these cases, you’re best leaving it alone until you can get a replacement.
  • Washing machines will “wash off” the waterproof application the factory applied to the cover. You can respray it with more, of course, but you’ll have to choose a good brand for it to last. 
  • It can damage the appearance of them. Bleach is the most common culprit of this. You’ll have to make sure you have the correct ratio of bleach to water to prevent any unsightly bleach spots. However, some detergents can leave streaks.
  • You’ll have to wait for them to air dry. This can take quite a while and is much more difficult to do in the winter, when it’s cold out, and you can’t hang it up outside. They also take a while to dry if you don’t have a way to spread them out to expose them as much as possible. They can develop a musty smell if they don’t dry fast enough.

Some jet skiers worry their cover will be ruined if they attempt to wash it. This isn’t the case at all, but some still prefer to simply buy a new cover whenever their current one wears down. This is certainly an option, but if your budget isn’t able to stretch for a new cover every year, consider cleaning it up to extend its life.

Final Thoughts

You’ll get the most life out of your jet ski cover if you keep it clean, but we just went through how much work that can be. For someone who has the time and patience, you’ll be able to make your cover last much longer than it would otherwise! I’ve also learned the hard way that washing the cover a few times per year is much better than waiting until it’s covered with 4 years of mold and mildew.

If you don’t want to put the effort into cleaning it though, you can always purchase a new cover. Sometimes, this is the best case. It’s important to know you can’t always rescue your cover by cleaning it.

Even if you ignore the rest of the ways to clean your cover, consider using a mold and mildew remover spray and periodically reapply the waterproof product. This alone can add years to the life of your cover.

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Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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