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11 Great Clean-Up And Do-It-Yourself Tips

Here's some smart ideas that can save you both time and money.

Dish Dilemma

Non-skid dish bottom

Photo: Getty Images

You can give just about any dish a nonskid bottom using silicone caulk. Mark a circle the size of the dish base on a piece of paper. Place a piece of wax paper over the circle, and put a bead of caulk about 1/2-inch inside the circle. Place the dish on the bead and press lightly. Let cure overnight and remove the wax paper. The flattened silicone should keep the dish from sliding around.

Kitted Up

Nantucket tool bag

Photo: Getty Images

Keep a tool kit aboard that includes all the basics, along with a sharp knife that can cut through polypropylene, in case your prop gets fouled.

Protect By Covering Or Removing

Trailer tire spider cracks and dry rot

Photo: Getty Images/evkaz

Trailer tires deteriorate more rapidly when constantly exposed to sunlight. Extend their useful life by using tire covers (garbage bags will do in a pinch) or storing your boat and trailer inside. Applying a tire protectant (such as Armor All) will also help. Even the ground will eventually rot your tires if they sit long enough.

For trailers that will remain idle for an extended period of time, remove the tires (placing stands or blocks under the frame) and store them indoors to extend their life and prevent flat spots as well as discourage would-be thieves. It also helps to park the trailer with the tires on garbage bags or other suitable protection from the ground.

Round Up The Little Bits

Nuts and bolts

Photo: Getty Images

Save a trip to the parts store when taking apart a complex piece of gear. Snap a close-up digital picture of the part in its unaltered state (translation: before you mess it up). Next, take a long piece of masking tape, sticky side up, secure the ends on a nearby flat surface, and as you take the pieces apart, place them on the masking tape IN ORDER. This will help you organize yourself so you put all the pieces back together properly, and avoid losing any little parts.

Leaf Strainer

Leaf strainer

Photo: Stacey Nedrow-Wigmore

Do leaves block your cockpit drains while your boat is sitting on the trailer? Add strainers! From your nearby dollar store buy a cheap plastic sink liner ... the kind with an open weave. Roll into a tube that will fit into the drain openings. They should stick up a minimum of 3 or 4 inches. Maintain the tube shape with cable ties or string. With the strainers inserted, leaves will gather around them rather than being washed into the drain. The accumulated leaves shouldn't prevent water from draining as long as you remove and rinse them periodically. Just beware of UV deterioration of the plastic.

Epoxy Cleanup

Plastic food container

Photo: Getty Images/gebai

Cheap plastic food containers make great mixing pots for two-part epoxy. After the job is done, the cured epoxy will pop out of the container without sticking. If your glue-job involves adjacent surfaces to which you don't want anything sticking, protect them with wax paper or a good coating of Butcher's Wax.

Keep Shower Drains Clear

Shower drain strainer

Hair tends to clog up the filter and harms the pump if it gets that far. Avoid letting hair get into the drain and causing expensive problems. Use a commercial hair strainer, or cut a piece of light mesh, like window screen, to place over the drain. Clean regularly.

Not Just For Lawns

Lawn sprinkler

To make your trailer and boat last longer, place a lawn sprinkler under the trailer as soon as you get home to rinse off salt and dirt.

Skin Deep

Baking soda

Photo: Getty Images/New Look Casting

Surface rust can often be taken off fiberglass with a paste made from water and baking soda (50/50). Thoroughly rinse the fiberglass and reapply wax.

Road Rage

Oven cleaner

Photo: Mark Corke

Road tar and asphalt marks on your pristine white hull can be extremely difficult to remove without the aid of expensive cleaners. Did you know that oven cleaner will eat them right up? Rinse the hull thoroughly after using this stuff, and don't get it on vinyl pinstriping. Test a small area of your surface first.

Pearly Whites

Chattering teeth toy

Stains on melamine tableware? Add denture cleaner to water, boil it, and pour it into the cups or dishes. Let sit.


BoatUS Editors

Contributor, BoatUS Magazine

Award-winning BoatUS Magazine is the official publication of Boat Owners Association of The United States. The magazine provides boating skills, DIY maintenance, safety, news and more from top experts.