How to Clean A Paddleboard Properly – A Practical Guide

Summer’s pretty much done, and it’s time to put up my paddleboard for the winter, but I want to make sure it’s cleaned and stored properly. I looked into how to clean a paddleboard properly and created this practical guide that shows you how to maintain, repair and store your hard epoxy or inflatable stand up paddleboard. 

How to clean a paddleboard properly?  Cleaning a paddleboard requires minimal effort. Rinse it off with fresh, non-salinated water and give it a quick clean with a gentle household detergent like dishwashing liquid. Dry your board thoroughly and store it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.

Taking good care of your paddleboard will pay off for you in the end. It doesn’t take long to do, and it extends the life of your board. Stay with me, and I’ll give you step-by-step directions for keeping your paddleboard in great shape.

Practical Guide to Cleaning Your Paddleboard – A Step by Step Guide

Depending on the type of board you have, you might need to do a little more work to get your paddleboard thoroughly cleaned. Cleaning an epoxy board is pretty straightforward, but cleaning an inflatable paddleboard is slightly more complex. You will need to ensure that the air valve is free of debris and moisture before you store it. You might also want to apply a UV protectant coating to your board. Let’s go over the details.

Get Your Supplies

Cleaning your paddleboard doesn’t require a whole lot of expensive supplies. You will need a hose connected to a freshwater source – any outdoor tap will do. You will also need a mild detergent.

Dishwashing liquid works best. You’ll also need a soft cloth or sponge. Make sure you don’t use anything with an abrasive surface to clean your board – it can damage the finish.

There are also a  number of paddleboard cleaning solutions on the market if you’d prefer to use a cleanser that is specially formulated to handle mildew and scum build-up. Below is a shortlist of some of the more popular cleansers used by experienced paddleboarders.

Revivex Pro Cleaner

Although this cleaner is designed for use on camping gear like sleeping bags and tents, it works beautifully on marine gear as well. Gentle enough for use on paddle boards and surfboards, this cleaner has the advantage of being multipurpose, so you don’t have to feel bad about spending money on a paddleboard cleaner you’ll only use once a year.

SUP Board Wash – Paddleboard Cleaner

If you’d rather use a cleaning solution that is specially formulated for paddleboards, you can’t do better than the SUP Board Wash Paddleboard Cleaner. It cuts through saltwater residue, eradicates hard water spots from saltwater exposure, and cleans grime and scum with ease. It comes in a handy spray bottle, and it’s relatively inexpensive as well.

Simple Green Marine All-Purpose Boat Cleaner

Simple Green Marine cleaner is a tough, heavy-duty cleaning spray designed for use on all manner of marine craft. Strong enough to remove engine grease and even fish blood, this biodegradable cleaner is a great choice to clean scum, saltwater residue and even hard scuff marks from your board. It’s also non-toxic and non-abrasive.

Star Brite Ultimate Paddlesports Cleaner & Prote Simple Green Marine All-Purpose Boat Cleaner

Formulated for use on paddleboards, surfboards, and kayaks, the Star Brite Ultimate Cleaner & Protectant is designed to easily clean off scum and dirt. The difference between this product and the others on our list is that it contains PTEF polymers that leave behind a protective UV ray and dirt repellant coating as you clean your board.

Blue Goo ONTIPRO Surfboard, SUP, OC, Inflatable Cleaner

Like many of the other cleaners on our list, this cleaner is formulated to cut through scum, grime, dirt and even mildew build-up. It is also formulated to handle oxidization and rust, so it’s a great choice for cleaning extendable and inflatable paddleboards which have more metal components than standard hard, epoxy-coated boards.

Seventh Generation Dish Soap

Although this product is not formulated specifically to clean paddleboards, it does deserve mention on our list. Seventh Generation is a favoured choice among paddleboarders because it’s cheap, biodegradable and non-toxic. It’s also non-abrasive and works really well, as long as you make a point to rinse your board off after each use.

Cleaning Tips

Always remember to spot test a corner of your paddleboard when you’re using a new brand of cleaning solution.

You might also want to get a protectant spray to apply to your paddleboard after you clean it. A protectant can help preserve your board from UV damage and also adds shine and luster to your board. It also forms a protective seal over your finish, helping it to last longer, even with the damaging effect of saltwater and scum accumulation.

It’s also a good idea to get some soft-sided, non-abrasive Magic Erasers to remove hard scuff marks and stubborn dirt. They work great on paddleboards because they work wonders on grime and tough scum, but they don’t scratch the finish on your paddleboard or compromise the sealant.

Daily Cleaning

Even though your paddleboard doesn’t need to be thoroughly cleaned every time you use it, it still needs to be rinsed off after each use.

  • Simply spray down your board using a garden hose. Make sure you remove the fins before you spray your board down. Also, rinse out the valve if you have an inflatable paddleboard.
  • Rinse off any metal pieces on your paddle board after each use, especially if you have been using your board in a saltwater environment. Saltwater corrodes metal at a rapid rate, so make sure to rinse off your leash hold as well as any buckles or bolts. Saltwater also leaves behind a salty residue as it evaporates, so make sure to rinse your board well.
  • Leave your board in a sheltered place to dry, away from direct sunlight. UV rays can damage the finish on your board and can actually cause your board to crack due to overheating. A UV ray protectant applied once or twice a year can help to protect your board from this kind of damage, but it’s always best to be cautious and protect your board from the sun when it’s not in use.

Seasonal Cleaning

Rinsing your paddleboard off after every use is an important step to maintaining the integrity of your board, but you still need to give it a more thorough clean at least once a year. Keep in mind though that you shouldn’t overdo it – excessive cleaning can cause cracks in your board and damage the coating.

However, it is important to give your paddle board a good clean when you are done using it for the season. Even if you’re a diehard paddleboarder and use your board year-round, you still need to clean it at least once a year, possibly twice if you can manage it.

  • Freshwater rinse

Start by rinsing off your board thoroughly in fresh water, using a garden hose. Try to get as much dirt and scum off your board as you can. Make sure you remove the fin pieces and rinse out the slots as well. If you use an extendable board, rinse your board off in the extended position, focusing on the buckles, bolts and all-metal components.

  • Detergent Scrub

Apply a mild detergent to your board. Don’t use too much cleanser – you don’t need to get it sudsy. Use a soft cloth or a non-abrasive sponge to gently scrub down your board on both sides. This should get all of the dirt and scum off your board. You can also use a soft-sided Magic Eraser to spot clean scuff marks and stubborn dirt.

  • Valve Cleaning

If you have an inflatable paddle board, check the valve as well. Keep the valve in the locked position and check for any debris. You don’t need to use detergent to clean the valve. However, if you have trouble getting the debris out, you can use a cotton wool bub (ear swab) to clean out the valve. You can also try blowing out the debris using an air pump.

Damage Repair

As you’re cleaning your paddleboard, keep an eye out for any signs of damage. It’s pretty normal for your board to develop nicks along the tail, nose and guard rails as your board bumps against rocks and floating debris. If you leave those nicks alone, they can develop into full-blown cracks, which would allow moisture to seep into your board’s foam core, leading to mildew.

  • Repairing Nicks and Abrasions

This kind of damage is very easy to repair. All you need is a piece of sandpaper. Simply sand down the nicks along the edges of your paddleboard, until your guard rails are even and smooth. Again, you need to be careful not to over-sand your board because you don’t want to compromise the foam core.

You can protect your guard rails from damage by putting guard rail tape around the edges of your board. This will prevent your board from developing abrasion damage. Most guard rail tape is transparent, so it won’t affect the look of your board. You can also get reflective tape, which helps night borders increase their visibility in the water.

  • Crack Repair

As you’re working on cleaning your board, you might find larger cracks that can’t be sanded away. These types of cracks are easy to repair, too.  All you need to do is apply an adhesive expandable patch to the crack, commonly known as ding tape. Make sure your board is completely dry before you apply the tape and that you lay it down smoothly.

You will need to give the tape 24 hours to fully dry, allowing it to form a tight seal over the crack. Keep in mind that ding tape only works effectively on small cracks and holes. If you have larger cracks in your board that require more than one piece of tape to cover, you’ll need to get your board professionally repaired.

A very important point to remember is that your paddleboard has a foam core which cannot be exposed to moisture. If the damage to your board is extensive enough that the foam core is exposed, you won’t be able to effectively repair it with adhesive sealant tape. You will need professional help or maybe even a new board altogether.

Repair Kits

There are a number of repair kits on the market, specifically designed for use with paddleboards. They contain everything you need to affect a quick repair on small nicks, puncture damage and cracks.

These kits typically come with sandpaper, a resin-based putty, and adhesive tape. Here is a list of some highly rated repair kits which have proven popular among paddleboarders.

This kit comes with an epoxy-based putty and a piece of high grit sandpaper. Packaged in a watertight bag, this is the perfect choice for on the go nick and ding repair.

A comprehensive repair kit, this pack comes with a tube of laminating resin and one tube each of microlite and polyester ding repair. It also contains three sheets of sandpaper with different grits, a bottle of acetone and a mixing cup. This multi-use kit can also be used to repair surfboards as well as paddle boards. Watch this video as they show how it’s done.

Marketed as a repair kit for surfboards, the Ding All Polyester Repair kit works great on paddleboards as well. It comes with a tube of hardening resin, two sheets of high grit sandpaper, a tube of filler and an extra bottle of sun cure resin. Fast drying and tough, this kit gives you lasting repairs.

  • Driftsun Repair and Patch Kit for Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboards

A great option for quick patch repairs on inflatable paddleboards, the Driftsun Repair kit is compact and simple. It comes with a valve remover and a couple of patches, all contained in a watertight bottle. Ideal for on the go repairs, this kit allows you to make an effective fix on the water.

Compact and easy to use, the Phix Doctor patch tape kit comes in three sizes, 2” x 3” strips, 3” x 6” strips, and a travel pack which contains both those sizes as well as some 3” x 4” strips. This marine-grade ding tape is perfect for patching small dings and cracks and is UV resistant as well.

Protectant Spray

Even though your paddleboard is designed for use in the sun, prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause severe damage and shorten the lifespan of your board. Most paddleboards are made with synthetic materials. Even wooden  boards have an epoxy coating. Over time, UV rays can damage these synthetic components.

In time, with constant UV exposure, the color of your board will start to fade, and cracks can develop in the board as the synthetic materials that make up your board begin to degrade. A UV protectant spray can help to reduce this type of damage and prolong the life of your board. Simply apply a little bit of the spray to your board using a soft cloth. Apply the spray lightly.

UV protectant sprays are very strong, so a little goes a long way, even with exposure to water. Make sure your board is completely dry before you apply the spray. Don’t apply UV protectant spray to your board too often – once a year, or twice at the most, is all you need. Some cleaning solutions come with a built-in protectant, like the Star Brite Ultimate Paddlesports Cleaner.

Dry and Store Your Paddle Board

Now all you need to do is let your board dry in a sheltered place, away from direct sunlight. If you use an inflatable paddle board, you need to make sure that your board is completely dry before you deflate it for storage. If your board has any moisture trapped in the air vent or in the fin slots, it will develop mildew and become unusable. Leave the vents open for storage.

Make sure you remove the fins from your paddleboard and store them separately. One of the most prevalent causes of damage to paddleboards is storing them with the fins attached. They can break, crack, and split your board if your board gets shifted in storage or if something is placed on top of it inadvertently.

It’s important to store your board in a cool space that doesn’t have a heat source, like a garage or cellar. Heat expands foam, so exposure to heat over a prolonged period of time can cause your board to essentially implode. Also, check on your board periodically to make sure there’s no moisture build-up or condensation – this is particularly important in harsh winter climates.

This VAMO cover is available in several sizes on Amazon

Cleaning Your Paddle – The Final Step

If you’re like me, you probably use a paddle whenever you go paddle boarding, and it’s important to maintain your paddle in the same way you maintain your board. Just like your paddleboard, paddles and oars can degrade over time due to saltwater build-up and dirt and scum accumulation. Follow the simple steps below to keep your paddle in perfect shape from season to season.

  • Rinse Off Your Paddle

Just like your paddleboard, your paddle needs to be rinsed off in fresh water after every use. This holds true whether you paddleboard in saltwater or freshwater. You can use a soft cloth while you’re rinsing off your board to get off any spots of scum or grime. Let your paddle dry off completely before you store it away.

  • Seasonal Cleaning

You should probably give your paddle a deep clean at the end of each season, although, to be honest, many paddleboarders don’t. Your paddle should be just fine if you make sure to rinse it off after each use. However, if you paddleboard in the ocean, salt water residue can build up on the head of your paddle and over time, this can cause damage.

Simply spray down your paddle with the same cleaning solution you use on your paddleboard – dishwashing liquid works just fine. Then wipe it down with a soft, non-abrasive cloth, scrubbing any hard water spots and stuck on grime. Give it one more quick rinse with fresh water, and you’re done.

  • UV Protectant Spray

You should apply a UV protectant spray once a year to your paddle. Unlike your paddleboard, your paddle won’t suffer significant damage from UV ray exposure because it doesn’t have a foam core. However, a UV protectant spray will provide a sealant coating for your paddle and keep it looking good.

  • Storage and Handling

Store your cleaned, dry paddle in a cool, dry space that has little to no sun exposure. Store it lying flat so that it can’t fall down accidentally and get damaged. When you store your paddle, try to keep it separate from your board. Never store your paddle on top of your paddleboard or inside your other marine sports equipment like a kayak.

When moving your paddle, don’t allow it to drag along the ground. You should always lift it up completely and carry it. The main cause of paddle damage is improper usage and allowing it to hit hard surfaces with force. Always make sure that your paddle is tied down securely when you’re transporting it. It should not be able to move around and bump against other equipment.

Paddles are made of a variety of materials. You can get wooden paddles, reinforced plastic paddles and aluminum shafted paddles with plastic or wooden blades. More expensive options include fiberglass paddles and carbon fiber paddles.

While it’s not strictly necessary, it’s probably a good idea to get a paddle storage case, especially if you have one of the more expensive models. We have 6 more storage tips in this post.

Why You Should Clean Your Paddleboard

One of my first questions was why I should clean my paddleboard? After all, it’s constantly submerged in water, so why can’t I just leave it to dry and then store it? Well, there are actually quite a few reasons why you should regularly clean your paddleboard.

Ignoring this simple task can lead to mildew build-up and cause you to overlook damage to your board that can lead to degradation over time. Apart from keeping your board looking good, there are a number of important reasons to clean your board thoroughly, including.

  • Mildew

Over the course of a summer spent in the water, your paddleboard can build up a fair amount of dirt and debris, including slime and scum. This is especially true if you paddleboard in freshwater lakes. If you don’t clean that debris off periodically, it can accumulate and cause the formation of mold and mildew, which can ruin your paddleboard.

  • Saltwater Corrosion

Saltwater is extremely corrosive to metal, so it’s really important to wash your board off after you’ve been in the ocean. If you don’t, you could risk damage to the metal components of your paddleboard, like the leash joints. This type of damage affects the performance and more importantly, the safety of your paddleboard.

  • Moisture Accumulation

Inflatable paddleboards, which are becoming very popular thanks to their convenience, have air valves. Although the valve is always kept in the closed and locked position when your paddleboard is in the water, moisture can still seep in it.

Especially if you’ve been paddleboarding in rough, churning waters, it’s important to check and clean the valve to prevent mould build-up.

  • Monitor Damage

Cleaning your paddleboard periodically also gives you an opportunity to closely inspect your board. It’s not unusual for your paddleboard to get nicked in spots or to even develop tiny cracks, particularly along the board rails. These nicks and cracks are easy to repair, but if you ignore them, they can get larger and allow moisture into the foam core of your board.

How Often Should You Clean Your Paddleboard?

In general, you should rinse off your paddleboard in freshwater every time you use it. Practically speaking, though, it’s fine to give it a miss now and then as long you haven’t been paddleboarding in the ocean.

Saltwater is corrosive, so you need to rinse off your board any time you go into the ocean. However, you don’t need to do a thorough clean each time you use your paddleboard.

That being said, you do need to clean your board thoroughly at least once or twice a year, and certainly before you put it away for winter storage. Keep in mind though, that paddleboards have a foam core, with most sporting a soft deck.

So, you shouldn’t overclean your paddleboard either – doing so can abrade the surface of your board and can actually cause damage to your board.

Cleaning up

Like all outdoor equipment, proper care, regular cleaning and proper storage will help lengthen the useful life of your board. Since many of these are significant financial outlays, you should do your best to maximize your board’s lifetime.

In between washes and repairs, be sure to get out there, stay safe and have fun!


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Carlo Raffa

Carlo Raffa is a blogger, stand-up paddleboard enthusiast, water lover and local to Brighton city in the South of England. Paddle boarding is my escape and this is only the starting point. Being a larger guy at 260lbs I am finding it very good exercise as well, especially for building core muscles. This is something that believe it or not cycling 16 miles a day at 6 miles per hour doesn't seem to be doing. Paddle Boarding allows me to just grab my board and walk right through the busy bar filled beachfront between the two piers in Brighton and head straight out of shore. It's not long before the shouting and cheering of our buzzing beach fade into just the lapping waves and the people to just small dots of the Brighton shoreline.

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