How Long Should a Custom Boat Cover Last and How To Extend the Life of It

We know that you want to protect your investment

But we also know that it’s not easy to find a custom boat cover that will last the harsh elements of Mother Nature.

Boat covers are exposed to a variety of weather conditions, which can take a toll on the cover's lifespan.

Maybe you’ve just invested in a boat cover, or you’re thinking about it, but you want to know how long a high quality custom boat cover should last…

In today’s article, we’ll help you know what to expect out of your boat cover and we are also going to share with you how to extend the life of it as well, so you get the most years you can out of it.

How Long a Boat Cover Should Last Depends on Many Things like:



Quality of Work and Materials of Your Boat Cover Will Determine How Many Years You Will Get Out of It

A custom cover from a reputable company like Caribou Upholstery, will be made with high-quality materials and feature craftsmanship that is designed to last.

However, a cover that is made with low-quality materials will not only fade and wear quickly, but it may also not be water resistant, meaning your boat will suffer from heavy water damage.

If you want a long lasting boat cover, you want to make sure you are getting a custom boat cover made from:

Marine Grade Fabrics

- Color Fade Resistant
- Water & Stain Resistant
- Mold & Mildew Resistant
- Protection From Ultraviolet Rays

You also want to make sure your Marine Grade Fabrics are sewn together using:

Gore Tenara Thread

- Features PTFE which is one of the most chemically resistant substances known to man

- Will not rot or mildew and prevents deterioration due to cleaning solutions, motor oils and other destructive substances

- Unaffected by ultraviolet rays and will not degrade from continuous sun exposure

 - Unaffected by saltwater, temperature extremes or acid rain

- Colors will not fade

- Ideal for marine canvas, seat cushions, and bimini tops, etc

So before you buy a cheap cover online, consider investing in one that will actually protect your investment.

How You Store Your Boat and Cover Will Determine How Many Years Your Boat Cover Will Last

It’s hard to give an estimate of how long a boat cover should last, because there are so many factors that come into play.

One of those being, when your boat is not in use and stored away, is it stored inside, outside, covered or not?

So just keep this in mind the next time you hear of someone’s boat cover lasting the life of their boat.

If Your Boat Is Stored outside Open to the Elements, Your Boat Cover Will Be Affected by:

- Hail
- Rain
- UV Rays
- Snow & Ice
- Autumn Leaves

How To Extend the Life of a High Quality Custom Boat Cover

Common questions boat owners have wanting to extend the life of a boat cover:

- Do you need to clean boat covers?

- What do you clean a boat cover with?

- Can you use bleach on a boat cover?

- Can you pressure wash a boat cover?

- Can you wash boat covers in the washing machine?

Immediately Repairing Damages To Your Boat Cover Will Greatly Extend The Life of Your Boat Cover

It’s not a surprise that boat covers will get damaged at some point throughout its life.

This can be from falling branches if stored in the back yard, animals, flying debris from oncoming traffic, etc…

Boat covers will also start to wear down at their weakest points.

More often than not, this happens to be at the threading and seams.

So if your boat cover has experienced damages or is starting to wear out at the seams, you want to make sure you fix these damages right away.

Doing so will mean that you take care of a much smaller problem in beginning and will help to extend the life of your boat cover.

Do You Need to Clean Boat Covers?


Cleaning your boat cover is a must if you want your boat cover to last a long time and it’s one of the best ways to extend the life of it.

Your boat cover will be exposed to all kinds of harmful things that will deteriorate its lifespan such as:

- Bird droppings
- Autumn leaves
- Mold & Mildew
- Dirt & Road Grime

You want to clean your boat cover anytime you see any of the above building up, the sooner those are washed away, the easier they are to clean.

We also recommend choosing a light color boat cover, because these will show dirt, stains, and mildew much easier, thus encouraging you to clean it more regularly.

However, cleaning your boat cover is a very general term, which is why we are going to break it down for you…

What Do You Clean a Boat Cover With?

The best thing to do is to know what type of material or brand your custom boat cover is made of.

Most manufactures will recommend the best way to clean their fabrics.

Using Sail and Canvas Cleaner

Sail and Canvas Cleaner products to wash your boat cover
One of the easiest options to clean your boat cover with, in order to extend the life, is to use a cleaner specifically for boat and sail canvas materials.

Keep in mind that this is probably one of the more expensive options, but you know that your cover is cleaned safely.

Can You Use Regular Soap and Bleach on a Boat Cover?

For some fabrics, they do recommend using bleach and soap.

For example, if you had TOP GUN 1S material, this is what they say:

“TOP GUN 1S® fabric may be cleaned with a cleaning solution of 4 ounces of bleach and 2 ounces of mild soap mixed in one gallon of warm (1000 F) water. Do NOT use detergents. Use a soft, bristled brush to lift soil embedded in the fabric surface. Rinse thoroughly with clear water to remove soil and soap residue.”

The only issue some people may have is the term “mild soap”.

Because what you may think is mild vs what the company thinks is mild, could be totally different.

That’s why some people opt for just using a sail and canvas cleaner.

Can You Pressure Wash a Boat Cover To Clean and Remove Stains?

You should NEVER pressure wash your boat covers.

Most marine grade materials are coated fabrics, which is what helps them withstand the elements and allows them to last for years.

Pressure washing a boat cover can remove this coating, and result in your boat cover deteriorating much faster than it should.

Can You Wash Boat Covers in a Washing Machine?

Even though some washing machines could fit part of a boat cover like the cockpit cover, you should not put any of your boat cover canvas into the washing machine.

A big reason for this is because the cover would be all bunched up inside and that constant rubbing on itself will wear out the protective coating, thus shortening the life of your boat cover.

How To Treat a Boat Cover After Cleaning

If you want to extend the life and water repellency of your boat cover, you’ll want to treat it after you wash it.

Over time, your boat cover will be less water repellant and will start to deteriorate much faster.

An easy way to get the water repellency back into your boat cover is to use a boat cover water repellent product after each clean.

Many of these products will also help in preventing mold & mildew.

There are many treatment products on the market, and some manufactures of fabrics will either have their own or will recommend products to use on their material.

That’s why it’s best to know what marine-grade fabric your custom boat cover is made of, so you know how to best take care of it.

In Conclusion:

Your boat cover is a durable and protective layer between your boat and the harsh elements.

However, how long it’s going to last depends not only on the quality of materials and craftsmanship it’s made from but also on how you care for it.

Keeping your high quality boat cover clean will prevent mildew from accumulating on its surface, which can lead to premature wear in the fabric that could compromise its durability and water resistance.

Your boat cover should last a good few years and upwards of ten years, if well taken care of, making it a valuable investment for all boaters.

If you are looking to extend the life of your boat cover, we highly recommend using the tips we shared with you today in order to choose the best materials for your boat cover and how to properly maintain its quality and durability over time.


Nothing Beats the Quality of a Custom Boat Cover Done by Caribou Upholstery!