How to Clean Your Kayak

Keeping your kayak clean and in tip-top condition is important to protect its longevity, but it’s also an important...


Keeping your kayak clean and in tip-top condition is not only important to protect its longevity, but it’s also an important practice to prevent the spreading of aquatic invasive species. Aquatic invasive species (AIS) include non-native plants, fish, invertebrates, and diseases that negatively impact the environment, economy, and recreation along with human health and safety. Boats and other watercraft, including kayaks, easily carry invasive species from one body of water to another. Kayaks in particular are easy to transport over long distances, potentially visiting contaminated, or contaminating, waters along the way. So it’s super important that you know how to properly clean your kayak.


Cleaning your kayak is a two-part process. This first part is critical to protect the environment from invasive species. To do your part in preventing the spread of harmful aquatic invasive species, follow the CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY protocol once you’re done paddling for the day.

  1. Clean off all plants, animals and mud from your kayak and gear.
  2. Drain all water from your kayak and gear onto land. This includes all internal compartments, ballast tanks, live wells, etc. Pull all drain plugs — it is illegal to transport a plugged watercraft in some Canadian provinces and US states.
  3. Dry all parts of your kayak and gear completely, making sure no water is left standing.
Blue Pelican Boracay NXT 10.4 Inflatable Recreational Paddle Board


Once you’ve completed the CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY protocol and brought your kayak home, you can opt to do a deeper clean. Here’s a brief list of supplies that come in handy when maintaining your kayak.

  1. Two towels, one to give your kayak a good scrub and another to dry off your kayak after the final rinse.
  2. A bucket of lukewarm water.
  3. An all-purpose mild soap.
  4. A garden hose and fresh water supply.

* Avoid using harsh abrasives to prevent damaging the hull.

Blue Kliin Cleaning Cloth for Watercraft
Blue Pelican Boracay Inflatable Recreational Paddle Board

Once you’ve got your supplies, it’s time to clean your kayak! Start by giving your watercraft a good rinse with fresh water. Next, grab a bucket and fill it with lukewarm water and add your mild all-purpose soap. Now, it’s time for a bit of elbow grease — roll up your sleeves and submerge a towel into the soapy bucket and start giving your kayak a good scrub. Once you’re done scrubbing, you’ll want to thoroughly rinse your kayak one last time making sure there’s no soapy residue left on the hull. The final step is to wipe down the hull with your second dry towel.