For years and years, I’ve struggled with cleaning the dinghy. I cleaned it with joy & water before we left last spring. But it was covered all summer and it’s amazing how dirty and moldy it can get underneath a cover all summer! So I just cleaned it again.
IMPORTANT POST UPDATE!!! AFTER I used Magic Erasers to clean the dinghy, a CC reader asked about using bleach — I’ll post an update with that information soon, but in the meantime, I had a response from Stephan Lance, President of Defender Industries. Stephan cautions:
“Be a bit cautious on the Magic Eraser though. It does work, well, like magic. That is true and use them in some places (my wife loves them in the house). BUT, the physical structure of melamine foam (which is what a Magic Eraser is), is a lot like very, very high grit sandpaper. If you do some Googling of melamine foam, you will find that it can abrade at a microscopic level. So, use it sparingly and only when absolutely necessary. It will wear the coating / finish off synthetic rubber or fiberglass.”
To tell the truth, I don’t want it TOO clean because then it looks new and if someone wants to steal a dinghy, why not a really nice looking one? We deliberately didn’t clean ours when we were in certain countries to make it as inconspicuous as possible. But now that we’re back in the US, David, being the clean freak that he is, wanted the dinghy REALLY cleaned. OK, it’s my job.
I started, as usual with a bit of bleach water just on the rubrail to get the mold out. Be careful when wiping down the rubrail with bleach water if it’s still on deck … and don’t use too much bleach, if the bleach solution drips onto the deck and you happen to have teak decks, you’ll have spotted teak decks! But we still need to clean the teak decks, so it’s OK for now. I’m not sure how good bleach is on rubber, but I also don’t know how to get the mold out with anything less chemical. I’ve tried vinegar and it just doesn’t cut it.
Then based on a tip from a friend, I tried using a Mr Clean Magic Eraser on the dirty hypalon. Absolutely amazing! It comes clean so easily versus scrubbing and scrubbing as I’ve done in the past. A couple of caveats … the hypalon chewed through magic erasers fairly quickly, but if it hadn’t been so dirty, it might not have gone through three!
Second caveat — if you’re cleaning in the hot sun, make sure to have a hose nearby — the magic sponge cleans, but if the residue dries before you rinse it off, it’s just as difficult to remove as the original grime! I was cleaning our dinghy while it was still on the deck, not ideal, but easier than hoisting it off the boat & boat aboard later since David was firmly entrenched in the cockpit lazarette dungeon, changing an impeller – something I know to tiptoe around!
When rinsing the dirty dinghy after cleaning a spot with the magic eraser, be SURE to rinse it off the boat too — otherwise you’ll be scrubbing the dirty residue off the boat later!
But all in all, I am very happy with the results. The dinghy could look better, and when we actually put it in the water, I’ll probably magic eraser it again, but overall: WOW! And with so little effort on my part. Gotta love it!
How do you clean your dinghy? Any other easy suggestions for cruisers unable to buy Mr Clean magic eraser sponges in other cruising areas? Please leave a comment and share! Cheers! Jan