For deckhands, washing down a boat is one of the first skills they will learn. It’s common for green/new deckies to wash a yacht on their first dayworking job, so being familiar with common washdown tools and products will make the first day easier. The materials/finish of a yacht requires special care, and without proper training from a senior deck crew member, you might run the risk of damaging the boat! If this happens, you certainly won’t be hired again. Read on to get to know common tools and products for washdowns:

Boat Soap

boat soap.jpgEach yacht will have their own preferred brand of soap they use. Add a small amount of soap to a wash bucket, and fill the rest with water until evenly mixed. As a rule of thumb, a little goes a long way so add only what is required for each section of the yacht.

TIP: Always read the directions on the label to get the correct soap to water ratio.

Deck Brushes and Handles

Every yacht will have a set of deck brushes and an attachable handle. Please check with the bosun or mate to see what they have on board.

deckhand tools_brush headsDeck brushes on board yachts will come in slightly different sizes and level of softness. The worst thing a new deckhand could do is to use a stiff brush on a delicate surface like glass or paint. Note: the colors of the brushes indicate the softeness level. The chart indicates the softest brushes to the most stiff. Extra-soft brushes are good for super delicate surfaces like Eisenglass, glass or stainless. Soft brushes are fine for most other non-delicate boat surfaces like painted areas. Medium brushes are for more stubborn spots, textured surfaces, or non-skid. Stiff brushes are very abrasive, so only use for heavy-duty jobs like acid washing teak.

TIP: A good rule of thumb is to stay away from any stiff/white brushes unless you are instructed by a senior deck member to use it for a specific job. Stick with the blue and soft yellow brushes for most washdown jobs.

The attachable handle connects to the deck brushes, and many have the option to adjust the height to reach higher parts of the yacht.

deckhand tools_handles.jpg You’ll notice that one end of the pole will have a soft covering for the handle, and the other has an exposed metal section that connects to the brush. To minimize damage to the yacht, never swing or carry the pole around without using your hand to cover over the exposed metal section of the extension pole which could scratch the paint if not careful. Better yet, make sure the exposed rough edge of the pole is connected to the brush head.

TIP: Carry the pole/brush combination upright when walking around on the boat, never horizontal as it could cause damage. Always be aware where the pole could make contact with the boat.

Wash Mitt

deckhand tools_chamoismitt.jpgWashing mitts are great to use on more intricate parts of the boat like stainless, around the name board, and any nooks and crannies. It’s the go-to wash tool for anything you feel is delicate like glass, stainless, or smaller parts of the boat.

TIP: When in doubt, wash with the mitt if you’re not sure if one of the brushes might be too harsh.

Chamois/”Shammy” Mop

deckhand tools_mopThis is one of the drying tools to dry the boat after washing and rinsing. The mop head attaches to the pole/handle and can be used to dry ceilings, non-skid floors, or other areas of the boat that are harder to reach by hand.

Hand Chamois/ “Shammy”

deckhand tools_shammy.jpgThis is an ultra-absorbant cloth used for drying and detailing. It’s gentle on all surfaces and safe to use everywhere. Once the chamois gets full of water that it’s no longer absorbing, twist to wring out all the water either on the side of the boat or over a bucket.


deckhand tools_squeegee.jpgUse the squeegee to dry windows and flat surfaces of the yacht. It’s great to remove water quickly from large flat surfaces like a table or sides of the boat. There are different variations of a squeegee that are used for different sections of the yacht.

TIP: Use the plastic squeegee blade for most flat surfaces (wood or paint). ONLY use the stainless steel squeegee for drying windows, as the metal sections of the squeegee could scratch paint or glass if used incorrectly. Use extreme caution, and double check with senior deck crew if you’re unsure how to use the stainless squeegee.

Are there any other helpful tools you use during a washdown? Tell us below!

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