ATC Blog

Boat Rust


Boats are a seafarers’ mode of transport, and as such should be treated just like a prized car or truck by properly maintaining it for optimal performance and long life. Unfortunately for boats, rust never sleeps, and only with diligence can a boat be rust free. Fortunately, you don’t need full marine training to attack rust where it lives.

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A mixture of fresh, clean water and mild, all-purpose detergent, along with clean rags, is enough to remove dirt and any other buildup that you may have acquired while out on the water. Pay close attention to any rust spots and make sure they are very clean before using any chemicals. Rust- Free or a similar oxalic or phosphoric acid-based rust remover can then be applied to rusted areas. Allow it to soak in for a minute, before using a scrub brush to the problem areas, and repeat as needed. After that, wash those areas with clean water before drying them thoroughly with clean rags.

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Rust is difficult to remove on a metal surface, but when it stains a fiberglass surface on a boat, fixing the problem requires a different solution. Fortunately, cleaners can fix the problem, and with a little bit of elbow grease, the rust can be scrubbed away. Using rubber gloves, apply a calcium, lime and rust remover such as Flitz CR 01610 to the affected area. Allow it to work in for awhile, then remove it with a sponge. If this didn’t work, reapply the remover and use the scuffing side of the sponge to scrub the rust away. After completion, wash the area with water.

Metal components secured to the fiberglass hull of a boat can cause rust stains, and the amount of staining increases if the boat is used primarily in salt water. To remove rust from the gel coat surface of a fiberglass boat, it requires more than soap and water. Specific cleaners such as MaryKate On & Off Hull & Bottom Cleaner is marketed to remove rust stains from gel coated hulls, and although they are effective, a more affordable liquid, oxalic acid, a common ingredient in rust removers, will remove rust stains from gel coat without damaging the components.

Begin by removing algae and other debris from the hull with a pressure washer, a scrub brush and soapy water. While wearing rubber gloves and safety goggles, then apply oxalic acid to the wet hull with the scrub brush. Scrub the rust stain thoroughly, and allow the acid to sit on the stain for 10-15 minutes. Pressure wash the acid from the hull, allow it to dry and then inspect the area. Wet the hull again if any rust remains. Reapply the oxalic acid to the stain, this time allowing it to sit for 45 minutes to an hour. Rewash the area, dry and re-inspect it.

Protecting your boat so that it remains structurally sound and its appearance is maintained will help it last and retain its value.

If you’re looking for more information on how you can increase the performance of your boat, you can download our free e-book, Top 5 Ways to Boost Outboard Engine Performance.

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One thought on “Boat Rust

  1. Luke Smith

    This is a really good article about how to remove rust from a sink. I thought it is really cool how you can use stuff from the kitchen like lemon juice,and vinegar. I think something like barkeep, and similar products would work too.

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