How to clean and protect inflatable boats and RIBs?
To extend the life of your inflatable boat or RIB, it is important to do this regularly and at least once a year. It is very easy to do the maintenance of your inflatable boat or RIB made of Hypalon or PVC yourself.
This includes cleaning the tubes, the inside of the boat and the bottom, up to the seats and the gelcoat of the hull and mold stains. Later on, more about the various cleaning products for different applications on your boat.
It is a good habit to rinse you boat after every trip with a hosepipe at low pressure to remove sand and dirt from the tubes, seams, transom joints, etc.
Do not use household or car cleaners as they may contain ingredients that can leave residues on the fabric of your tubes that can prevent UV protectants or adhesives from adhering properly in the future. Especially with PVC boats, the boat can become sticky and the fabric becomes stiffer and harder because the plasticizer is affected. We recommend August Race products because they have been specially developed for inflatable boats.
Oxidation is a natural process and will leave your inflatable tube or float dull and with a ‘milky’ complexion. This is especially evident on boats with Hypalon tubes of highly pigmented colors, when they are regularly exposed to high levels of UV and a UV protector / wax has not been routinely applied.
If the fabric of your inflatable boat shows signs of oxidation, August Race Liquid RIB is the solution! This is the professional RIB and inflatable boat cleaner. If you decide to use Liquid RIB make sure you will use it all over the inflatable tubes to ensure an even finish.
Rinse off the rib tubes or sponsons with clean water (not sea water) to remove any loose dust or dirt and allow to dry. Then apply a very small test patch of August Race Liquid Rib cleaner to ensure suitability. Making sure to be out of direct/very strong sunlight and working on a small section of around 1 metre, apply the Liquid Rib cleaner to a clean microfibre cloth and work in a circular motion on the tube. It is normal on sun damaged tubes for the colour to leech onto the cloth, this is removing the dry/damaged material and it will stop once the damaged material is removed. Once clean, rinse with clean water and move on to the next section of tube and repeat the process until the tubes are clean and restored.
Now that your boat is clean and looking as new don’t forget the really crucial step by applying an inflatable boat protector and conditioner. This will extend the life of your boat! At HIBS we have the high quality protector and conditioner LR Sealer Coat available, see link
Once the tubes are clean and dry, apply the LR Sealer Coat sparingly to a cotton cloth and buff in a circular motion onto the tubes until fully absorbed. LR Sealer Coat will give a glossy finish to smooth RIB tubes and sheet water away preventing water beading.
General car protectors or conditioners should be avoided, as most contain silicones, oils, or waxes that are not resistant to the harsh marine environment or long-term UV exposure and often cause problems when repairs are needed in the future.
Always use a non-scratch cleaning cloth, such as a microfiber cloth, to work the tube cleaner into the pores of the cloth. Use a soft brush with nylon bristles to clean D-rings, trim, etc. Always let your inflatable boat dry completely.
As mentioned, we recommend August Race cleaning products, these maintenance products are among the number 1 in England and now also exclusively available in our webshop. Look for more info on the page of: August Race
Hereby a selection of the different products; August Race Boat Wash Pro is the ultimate boat cleaner, it offers protection and leaves a deep glossy finish. Liquid RIB is specially designed to give contaminated hypalon and PVC tubes a new finish. To permanently protect your boat, we also have the right products such as August Race Liquid RIB UV to protect the tubes. If a higher spec finish is required you can apply a coating of August Race LR Sealer Coat If you have stains on the gelcoat, August Race Bright Coat is the solution. And for a deep after-treatment of the gelcoat, we have August Race Smooth Opacity UV. Then there is also August Race Spot off , a low-foaming mould spot remover for use on a variety of surfaces including rib tubes, vinyl upholstery and paint. And August Race Vinyl Bright restores tired looking vinyl boat coverings in one quick step.