Where I live the season will end around this time of the year for the average kayaker. My head immediately jumped to kayak maintenance. Obviously maintaining and cleaning your kayak is very important! Therefore, I wanted to write a quick guide on how to clean and maintain your kayak in the best possible way.
I divided the article into two to help you read through it faster. First, I will give 4 tips for cleaning and then I will show you 4 tips for maintaining your kayak.
4 Tips for Cleaning
Rinse with Fresh Water
No matter how logical this may sound, it’s not standard for everybody. I once took a friend kayak and he cleaned the bottom of his kayak with the water from the river we just kayaked in.
It is very important to use fresh water when cleaning your kayak. The rivers contain a lot of pollution, bacteria’s and trash these days. To make sure your kayak lasts for a while I suggest cleaning your kayak with fresh water after every trip you take.
To really urge you to clean your kayak after every trip I want to make sure you understand why it’s so important. Obviously one of the main reasons behind it is the level of dirtiness in the water.
All sorts of trash and bacteria’s will wear your kayak’s hull down pretty fast. To stop the dirty water from eating your kayak it’s important to clean it after every trip.
Usually, I take a 5-liter bidon of fresh water from my home and clean my kayak right before I load it up. This way I also make sure there are no stones or other scratching materials left on my hull to damage my kayak when I load it on my trailer.
When you clean your kayak regularly you will also be able to spot any irregularities on your kayak’s hull. Last year cleaning my kayak regularly helped me to spot 2 dents on my hull. If these dents would have been left there I would probably have been in some serious trouble later in the season. Cleaning is a great way of preventing many accidents from happening.
Clean your accessories
Besides your kayak, you should not forget to clean your accessories occasionally. For accessories like paddles that touch the water often I suggest cleaning them along with your kayak to prolong their lives.
For accessories that barely touch the water, I suggest cleaning them before, once during and straight after you kayaking season.
Of course, when you drop them into the water I would suggest cleaning them along with your kayak.
When cleaning your accessories, it’s also a good time to spot any wear and tear on them. Recently I cleaned my paddles, they are quite a few years old, and I spotted a small tear on my left side paddle. This prompted me to buy a new, which was good because on the next trip my left paddle tore in half!
I suggest cleaning your kayak before every season. This will make sure all the dust and other dirt from storage will be gone and won’t work into your kayaks small and tiny places when your kayak touches with water.
Please do not forget to clean the inside of your kayak. It’s important to also think of your kayak’s interior when cleaning, during the storage period all kinds of bugs and dirt will find its way inside your kayak. There’s nothing worse than sitting out on the water and feeling a spider crawl up your leg.
To clean your kayak in the preseason I suggest using fresh water with some regular soap to wash away all the dirt on the kayak. If you have a polyethylene or composite/fiberglass kayak I suggest rubbing your kayak with some car wax to protect your kayak against the UV rays from the sun.
However, I feel confident to say car wax is better to use. Besides protecting your body from UV rays, it also offers the bonus of protecting your kayak’s body against most forms of dirt with a non-stick layer.
When the season finishes I would suggest giving your kayak a decent scrub. Well not too hard, because that might break it, but it’s a figure of speech. Rinsing your kayak’s exteriors and interior with fresh water and regular soap would be the best way to get your kayak ready for storage.
To stop your kayak from catching too much dirt I would suggest covering your kayak with a tarp. (Check kayak tarp on Amazon) If you have a sit-in kayak, a cheap solution is to put car sunscreens on your openings to that the air can still flow through but the dust won’t enter that easy.
The best tip of all is, of course, to store your kayak in a dry and clean place!
Usually post-season I check my kayak a bit more thorough than pre-season. The reason is that if my kayak has broken down I would like to have all winter to repair it.
By checking, I mean looking every little bolt and rubber on my kayak to make sure that it will remain waterproof.
Also, I check the entire body for scratches and dents so that I can repair my kayak before I store it.
4 Tips for Maintenance
One of the best ways to prevent your kayak from leakages is checking your kayak for dents and scratches often. Then if a dent or scratch occurs you can repair it before it will be too big to repair.
Obviously preventing your kayak from leakages should probably start by preventing scratching and dents from forming in the first place. To do so, for example, you could stop dragging your kayak on the floor etc.
A while back I received this great tip to inspect your kayaks body. To make sure you wouldn’t miss a small dent or crack a kayaking instructor advised me: ‘Place a flashlight inside your kayak and then cover the cockpit, then look at all the sides carefully in a darkroom. When you see light, that means you need to take care of that area. If there is no light, you are safe to store your kayak for the winter or use it for your new kayaking season.
To repair your kayak’s dents and scratches I prefer heat. A dent is easily fixed by leaving your kayak in the sun for a day. That obviously only works with fiberglass of polyethylene types of kayaks.
To repair scratches, I first take off any excess material that can be scraped of easily with a knife or something sharp. Then I carefully straighten the kayak’s scratch using a heat gun. Obviously, there is some caution necessary in the procedure. If you misuse the heat gun you will be left with a hole in your kayak.
When you do not feel confident to handle a heat gun or when the dent or scratch has gotten too big for you to handle be sure to head to your local dealership and get it repaired to prolong your kayak’s life.
Usually getting your kayak’s body repaired isn’t the most expensive thing to do.
As I said before, preventing is better than repairing. So always keep your eye out to prevent or repair your kayak in its most early stages of damage.
Besides maintaining your kayak you should also do regular check-ups and maintenance on your gear. Since every piece of gear is different it’s difficult to really bring you a detailed description of how to maintain your kayak.
I just want to say, WD-40 can do wonders for most of your gear. When you clean your gear, I suggest spraying them with WD-40 afterward. This will not only prolong your gear’s life by oiling its parts. WD-40 will also waterproof most of your gear.
Maintaining Kayak Parts
When you have a real basic kayak this might not be for you. However, when you have a little bit of a more serious kayak, there will be a lot of little plastic and metal parts to your kayak. Often your kayak will be covered with some sort of bungee cord or netting to make storage easier.
Because for bungee cords are important, I check every season twice. Just to make sure a harsh winter didn’t take away their strength or the last season stretched them out too much.
Besides that, every pre and postseason check-up, I check all the plastic parts for wears and tears. I do this to stop the parts from falling apart during the season.
Most of the time a bungee cord or plastic part will be simple to replace. You can order them online or at your local dealership and usually, all the necessary screws and rubbers will be delivered along with your kayak part.
There is only one thing that’s really important to keep in mind when replacing your kayak’s parts. Most parts will be attached through the kayak’s body. When the screws will pass through the body you will need to be sure to place a rubber in between the plastic part and the kayak’s body to prevent water from leaking inside your kayak.
Store your Kayak the Right Way
One of the most commonly made mistakes is to store your kayak in the wrong way. It’s very important to store your kayak in the right way, if not your kayak will deform and wear faster than it should.
Then, what is the right way to store your kayak?
Obviously, your kayak should always be stored in a dry and cool place. One of my friends has a garage build against the side of his house. His garage is attached to the same wall as his chimney. Last year he stored his kayak against his chimney. Obviously, when he took it out in spring the side of the kayak touching the chimney was deformed quite a bit.
This just really showed me the damage heat can do to a kayak.
It’s best to store your kayak on its side horizontally. I even suggest using something soft to store your kayak on. My suggestion would be to use a rubber mat wide and long enough to support every bit of your kayak touching the floor.
For storage reasons, you could also use a storage rack to keep your floor space available for non-hangable items in your storage. See more: Ultimate Guide for Kayaks Storage
Hope you find this post interesting and helpful. If you find anything wrong or outdated, please kindly leave your comment below. I will update it as soon as possible.
Thanks for reading. Happy Kayaking.