Boat mold is the concern of every boat owner and with good and with good reason. These fungi can cause serious damage to your boat if not detected early enough.
What’s more, mold doesn’t just create problems for your boat but can cause serious health issues such as headaches, joint pain, respiratory problems and fatigue.
Most boat owners are left with costly repairs and the stress of addressing them once an infestation has taken place.
In the following article, will address the issues resulting from mold inside your boat and how you can prevent these fungi from causing problems in the future.
Ultimately, mold requires you to be vigilant in order to prevent it from taking residence in your boat, however, dealing with the mold growth is very straightforward if you know exactly how to treat the root of the problem.
Table of Contents
Is Mold on Boats Toxic?
The toxicity and color of mold are two different things, but each play a crucial role in the prevention of mold. Just because the color of mold is black does not mean it is toxic.
And not all black molds are deadly. Mold can occur in various colors depending on what materials provided the mold with its food source.
Some mold may have a black pigment by nature. This is usually associated with being toxic, however, it’s not always the case. And even when black mold is not toxic, it can be allergenic.
Ultimately, there is no evidence that suggests that mold is toxic to humans or other organisms. However, just because mold is not toxic, or doesn’t have any toxic side effects does not mean that it can’t cause serious health conditions.
Exposure or heavy exposure to mold can trigger an increase in allergy and respiratory symptoms. Any type of mold that has the ability to produce and release mycotoxins is toxic.
So the mold on your boat could be a mycotoxins releasing kind or it may not. Mold can occur in your boat due to many reasons.
It could be the cause of moisture in a room, a poor ventilated bathroom, a poor system setup or even a leak inside the boat. In most cases, where water has remained stagnant for a long time, mold will likel start to appear.
Sometimes the mold on your boat can be toxic and cause serious health issues. Ultimately, the damage done will depend on the exposure and amount of mold that was inhaled.
So ultimately, the key is finding the cause of the moisture and eliminating it in order to get mold off your boat.
Health Issues & Types of Mold Found Growing on Boats
People who have mold allergies tend to have weak immune systems. So the weakened immune system overreacts when you breathe in the mold spores.
This can often cause symptoms of coughing, itchy eyes, and respiratory problems. Mold allergies are often linked to asthma and can restrict your breathing and trigger asthma symptoms as well.
Some of the health issues or symptoms caused by mold include sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, itchy eyes, itchy nose and throat, watery eyes, cough and postnasal drip as well as dry and scaly skin.
Ultimately the symptoms differ from one person to the other and that they can tend to be mild or very severe. For some people, they may have year-round symptoms and for others, it may only be during certain seasons.
Some people may notice symptoms when the whether is damp, and they are in indoors or outdoors spaces which have higher concentrations of mold.
In most cases, if you suffer from asthma, the symptoms could become worse as you are exposed to the mold spores.
Exposure to certain types of mold can also lead to asthma attack and signs, and symptoms of asthma will include wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath as well as coughing.
Types Of Boat Mold
There are different types of mold, and some are more dangerous than others. However, by knowing which types are toxic, you can start reducing exposure to them.
Lots of people are confused about mold and its effects on people. This is because mold affects individuals differently. Some people are just naturally allergic to mold, and others don’t experience any symptoms upon exposure.
The first type of mold that is common is allergenic molds. They tend to affect people that suffer from asthma or certain allergies. In most cases, people who are exposed to and allergic to mold have hypersensitive reactions.
This could lead to an extreme inflammatory response in their weakened immune or respiratory system. Around 20 to 30% of the population is vulnerable to mold and other allergens which can ultimately lead to reactions like allergic rhinitis.
Pathogenic molds are capable of causing certain diseases and infections. In fact, healthy individuals with strong immune systems are able to fight off these pathogens in most cases.
However, pathogenic molds are dangerous to people who have weakened immune systems, and they are therefore considered opportunistic pathogens. These molds affect infants, elderly people and usually those that have weak immune systems.
Toxic mold releases mycotoxins, and poisonous chemicals that are often dangerous to humans. However, unlike the pathogenic and allergenic molds, toxic molds intentionally harm other living things.
Mycotoxins, in fact, are some of the most deadly chemicals on the planet. They are found both on mold and on mold spores.
Individuals are exposed to mycotoxins by ingestion, inhalation as well as dermal exposure. Ultimately this leads to temporary irritation and in some individuals can lead to long-term side effects and illness.
Irrespective of what type of mold you are dealing with on your boat, the key is to remove the source of the problem as soon as possible.
Prevention & Care
There are many ways in which you can prevent mold from taking up residence inside your boat, and there are ways that you can care for your boat to ensure that you never have a problem with mold again. Below you are some tips that you can apply to your boat to keep it mold-free.
You can start by identifying the problem inside your home or boat and then correcting them. It is possible to mold-proof your boat and make it mold resistant.
So all you need to do is start an assessment of your boat and find the problem areas. If you notice condensation in certain areas of your home or that the basement is prone to flooding, then try and mold-proof those areas. Initially, it may cost some money; however, it will surely save you money down the road if you make your boat mold-proof.
Water that is inside the boat should be dried immediately. Mold can’t grow without moisture, so tackle those areas immediately.
Any leak or spill should be dried within 24 to 48 hours. In the event that your boat experiences flooding, remove any water damaged carpets, bedding and furniture that has been dried completely as soon as possible.
It’s vital that your boat has proper ventilation. So any activity or one as simple as cooking dinner or taking a shower, could fill your boat up with unnecessary moisture that can be very inviting for mold.
So ensure that your boat has a proper ventilation system that is valid, especially during these types of activities.
AC units and humidifiers are especially handy in humid climates, and all you need to do is periodically clean and maintain them in order for them to give you years of good use.
Using mold-resistant products is also key to keeping your boat free from mold. There are certain dry walls or mold resistant sheetrock and mold inhibiting paints that are absolutely priceless when it comes to keeping mold off your boat.
Monitor the humidity levels indoors at all times. According to the EPA, humidity should be anywhere between 30 to 60%.
A moisture meter can be purchased and used to measure humidity indoors and also help you detect high humidity and find problem areas inside your home.
Excess humidity will usually appear in the form of condensation on windows, walls and pipes. If you notice condensation dry the surface immediately and eliminate the source of moisture.
Keep water out of your boat. While this may sound like it’s easier said than done, try to keep water under your boat and not inside it.
Improving the airflow inside your boat is crucial, as mentioned earlier. As temperatures drop, the air will be able to hold less moisture. Without good airflow inside your boat, excess moisture will quickly build up and eventually create the ideal environment for mold growth.
Winter Storage Best Tips
Perhaps one of the most unpleasant things that can happen when you first jump into your boat in the spring is to find that mold has found its way inside before you have.
While there are many products that can help eliminate mold from your boat, lots of them don’t do a very good job. And traces of the mold can still linger inside the canvas and upholstery of your boat.
So ultimately, the best way to deal with mold is to practice the old saying of prevention is better than cure. So you should start by inspecting your boat post-season for the first signs of mold because it is best treated when it is caught early.
Ultimately though, one of the best ways to prevent mold growth is to properly store your boat in the wintertime.
Here are some tips to help you properly store your boat away in the winter season and ensure that it is ready to be used at the start of spring.
Cleaning up your boat is probably one of the best pieces of advice you will ever receive when it comes to mold. The boat should be clean and utterly dried before storing it away.
Make sure that it’s dry again before shrink-wrapping and covering it. Your boat should also be kept out of the rain at all times and make sure you remove any potential stains that could cause harm over the winter.
Use a product that absorbs dampness when you’re finished cleaning up your boat. Leave this product inside the boat over the winter and remove it in the spring. Lots of these dampness absorbing products are relatively inexpensive and can still save you money in the long run.
The are certain covers that aremade specifically for storing your boat during the winter season. So purchase these specifically made types of boat covers, then shrink-wrapp and place aside for when you need it.
Summer covers are not recommended as moisture seeps through them, and it eventually gets stretched by the ice and snow loads. The summer cover should be removed and stored away for the summer season, and specific covers which are made for winter should be used.
Perhaps the best piece of advice when storing your boat away for the winter season is to let it breathe. Don’t wrap it too tightly, allow airflow to circulate and leave vents uncovered.
The Sun is Your Friend
Perhaps the biggest enemy of mold and mildew is sunlight. So when you’re trying to eliminate boat mold, you’ll want to use this fact to your advantage.
Lots of people discover mold after they’ve left their boats in storage over the winter season. The formation of mold usually results from incorrectly storing your boat during the winter season.
However, as soon as spring arrives, you can take your boat out into the direct sunlight and remove the cover while allowing the sunlight to hit directly onto the boat from various angles.
Exposure to sunlight will eventually kill the mold and will prevent new mold from growing.
Boat Covers (vinyl-upholstery) Removal
When trying to remove mold from vinyl seat covers, there are a few steps you should follow to make the process easier.
Start by filling a bucket or spray bottle with 4 parts water and 1 part ammonia or a teaspoon of ammonia and a quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide and 3/4 cup of water.
Thereafter spray the seat covers with a garden hose to dampen them.
You should then dip a soft scrub brush in the solution and spray the seat covers with a spray bottle. Then scrub gently, but as thoroughly as you can. Use small circular motions to remove the mold.
Rinse the seat covers property on both sides with the garden hose.
You can then hang them up or lay them out in a well-ventilated area which should be outdoors or in direct sunlight in order to have them dried. Please note that the drying process can take a few hours, so allow it enough time to dry. In the last step, apply a protectant to prevent damage to the vinyl seats.
Boat Carpet Mold Removal
Getting mold out of boat carpets will all depend on what the carpet is made from.
However, most boat carpets are made from synthetic fibers, like polypropylene or acrylic and therefore can stand aggressive cleaning products, however, if you’re not sure then test a small area to see whether or not it can handle the chemicals.
One of the best solutions to use is called Fabri-Klean, which is tough on stains and gentler on fabrics. It’s also a natural as well as synthetic product.
Since it is a green product, there is no problem rinsing it into the lake or onto the ground as it won’t hurt your skin or the environment. However, in order to prevent it from drying out your skin, you should wear rubber gloves while using it.
You should start by wetting the carpet and spraying some of this product onto it. Thereafter, work the product in with the scrub brush. Using a brush with a long handle will work best.
Allow it to soak in this product for approximately 10 minutes while scrubbing gently and rinse well and allow it to dry.
Boat Cushions Mold Removal
If your boat cushions have mold, you should start by removing the cushions from the boat. Thereafter, use a stiff brush to remove the surface mold growth. Take the cushions outdoors and brush them to avoid releasing the spores indoors.
In order to check for color-fastness, test a hidden area of the cushion with the chemicals you’re using to clean.
Wait for a few minutes and see if the color changes, and if it does change color, try a different chemical. In most cases, boat cushions are made from colorfast covers; however, it’s always recommended that you check.
Make a paste using 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and salt and then apply the paste to the mold and leave the cushion in the sun. Rinse out the cushion with cold water once the paste has dried.
Next, mix 2 tablespoons of powdered bleach and one part of hot water. Use a sponge to blot the solution onto the mold stain and let it sit for 30 minutes before rinsing with water.
Lastly, use liquid chlorine bleach for tough mold stains. Mix 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach with one part water. Blot the solution on the mold stain and allowed to sit for 15 minutes.
Thereafter, wash the cushion cover with water and use a clean sponge to apply white vinegar to the mold stain. In the final step, you need to rinse off the vinegar with water, and that dry out the cushions.
Boat Seats Mold Removal (vinyl-upholstery)
Although both seats are made to resist mold small, there are no super products. So over time, as sunscreen, residual soap and water as well as dirt accumulate, your boat seats will become more susceptible to the growth of mold.
Moisture from the air as well as sweat from bodies will also create the ultimate environment for them to thrive.
Even if you cover your boat seats water will still be able to penetrate them causing unsightly mold growth. However, the good news is that there are a number of ways that you can eliminate mold from your boat seats.
There are a number of products on the market that are recommended for cleaning vinyl seats. However, you should always do a patch test on a hidden part of the seat to ensure that the chemical is not going to damage the vinyl.
Ultimately, the products on the market are all designed to eliminate mold from boat seats quickly and effectively.
Pontoon Boat Bimini Top Mold Removal
In order to remove mold and mildew from Bimini top surfaces, you have to do some really aggressive or proper cleaning. There are times when tough grease, stains, mold and mildew can develop due to improper storage or foreign substances on the fabric.
So for heavy-duty cleaning, you should make a solution of 1 cup of bleach, a gallon of water and a quarter cup of mild soap.
Work the solution into the fabric while concentrating on the stained areas or where the mold is present and let it sit for around 15 minutes. Blot out the stain with a clean sponge and paper towel and rinse with a hose until all the residue is gone.
Recommended Tools Needed to Remove Mold & Mildew on the Above
The tools that you need in order to remove mold and mildew from all surfaces inside your boat include sponges, spray bottles, scrubbing brushes, paper towels, water hoses, and rubber gloves.
Homemade Cleaning Agent for Boat Seat Mold Removal
If you are not too fond of using harsh store-bought chemicals on your boat seats, then you may want to consider using a natural or homemade solution.
One such solution that can tend to be very effective in eliminating mold and mildew is a vinegar and water solution.
Start by mixing a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water and then spraying or pouring it onto the surface of the mold and using a gentle scrubbing brush to remove the mold from any surface or fabric.
There are other homemade solutions that you can also try to effectively and safely remove mold from your boat.