6 Quick Tips For Finding and Eliminating Boat Smells

My goal today with this quick simple post is to help you pinpoint the 6 go to places onboard a boat where boat odors are sure to be coming from. By the end you will be armed with quick actionable tips to get your boat odors under control.

 Boat smells can easily ruin a perfect day on the water, theres nothing worse than walking into the cabin and being hit in the face with a damp musty smell or even the smell of your holding tank! Today, I’m going to give you a few of the routine places to search where odors may be coming from and how-to quickly and efficiently get rid of these boat smells.

1. Check for mold

 Mold is probably by far the number 1 place where boat odors live. Mold is the quintessential boat smell you think of, that damp musty odor associated with most boats especially older ones.Boats by nature are breeding grounds for mold. Why, you may ask… because cabins are dimly lit, can have little ventilation and become moist, forming the perfect storm for mold to brew and spread rapidly! For an in depth guide to completely eliminating mold on your check out our guide Best Practices For A Mold Free Boat Actionable items for eliminating mold on a boat:
  • Let the boat breathe. Open up the door to the cabin, any hatches and port holes, allowing some fresh air to permeate the inside of your boat
  • Take a bleach solution and clean the areas affected by mold
  • Put measures in place to prevent mold from coming back such as leaving air conditioning on or leave it on dehumidify or install solar fans in the hatches for the cabin.
  • Again for the complete guide to eliminating mold read here ….

2. Bilges

 Bilges are probably the second biggest culprit when it comes to odors on boats. This is because most of the time they house standing water, either fresh or salt. The key is to inspect every bilge on your boat since chances are you don’t only have one. Everything from grease, oil and anything else you can imagine can wind up in the bilges you should make it in your routine to inspect and clean every bilge as needed.Actionable items to keep your bilges clean and free from boat smells: 
  • Shopvac all free standing water in your bilges
  • Spray your preferred degreaser/cleaner in the bilge and let it sit for several minutes to loosen up all dirt and odor particles
  • Gentley mist the bilge and wipe it completely clean
  • Shopvac all remaining water and wipe dry

3. Heads

 Boat heads are another source or notable odors on a boat. The key here is to keep the system lubricated and treated. Boats with saltwater heads are more prone to producing odors because of calcium deposits in the lines of the toilet system. Actionable items to quickly eliminate smells in your boats head:
  • Place your favorite head treatment product in each of the heads and let it work its magic
  • This will help to break up odor particles in both the lines to the head and the black water tank itself
  • For a more in depth solution on cleaning your head system check out this article >> Simple Steps For Eliminating Boat Head Odors

4. Leaks

 I bet you’re probably thinking holysh*t a leak on a boat!! That isn’t good in any capacity but I’m not talking about, we sprung a leak. Im talking about a window, or hatch leaking. Moisture inside the boat leads to mold (mentioned above), which causes you guessed it, boat smell. Actionable Item to eliminate leaks:
  • Find exactly where the leak is coming from. If its a bad hatch, replace it. If its the caulking around the window, dig it out and recaulk/seal it.
  • Once you’ve stopped the leak, then be sure to clean the carpets, headliner or surrounding area to stop mold in its tracks.
  • If the wood trim surrounding a window was damaged or may be waterlogged, replace it.
  • The key is to clean the affected area after stopping the leak.

5. Upholstery/Headliners & Carpets

 Old cloth upholstery and even leather can start to attract odors over time. Its important to keep carpets and headliners clean to avoid building up any odors. If its upholstery be sure to inspect the foam inside the casing and make sure there is no mold in there. Action Items:
  • Cleaning upholstery is as easy as taking a simple foam cleaner like one made by resolve and scrubbing all the upholstery in your cabin. If you wanted to get more creative you can shampoo or steam clean the interior. If leather use a leather cleaner and conditioner to thoroughly treat the boats leather.
  •  Headliners are fairly easy to clean if its a basic one you’ll see in most cabin cruisers. All you have to do is take your favorite all purpose cleaner like simple green and spray it on a clean microfiber cloth and wipe the headliner down. If its something more intricate I would suggest finding out what the material is and clean it with something simple recommended by the manufacturer.
  •  Carpets can be cleaned by simply shampooing them. You can buy a simple $100 Bissell or even rent one at your local store. Even better call in a professional carpet cleaner to come in and do it for you in no time.

6. Hoses

The hoses throughout your boat for both fresh water and black water can be the culprits of some pretty bad odors onboard. Over time the hoses onboard can deteriorate and begin to hold odors. A way to see if the hoses are bad is to perform a rag check. Wipe a damp rag over the hose and see if it smells afterwards. If it does its time to replace them. Another way is to physically examine any clear hoses and check to see if they are discolored. If so, replace the hoses.This is one of the more labor intensive issues to tackle on boat when it comes to resolving boat odors. Actionable items for hoses:
  • Replace all hoses throughout the boat or the ones you discovered to be bad. On smaller boats it wont be that much hose to have to go through and replace.

**Bonus Tip for keeping boat smells & odors at bay**


7. Place a few containers of Ocean Air throughout the cabin

 We designed our Tea Tree Oil Air Purifier – Ocean Air to help with all of the scenarios mentioned above. After experiencing years of struggling with odors on boats this simple, discrete jar will help to neutralize odors left behind from each of the six odor causing issues plaguing boats.Its crafted to work in tandem with fixing the cause of the odors to keep them from coming back after you eliminated the root cause of the smell onobard. A clean smelling boat is just what the captain ordered. Click below to claim yours with a special deal attached.The number one trend you should notice is a lot of these sources of boat smells are linked to mold. So please, please keep mold out of your boat. Theres nothing groundbreaking here and the solutions are relatively easy to implement by yourself and you’ll be on your way to better air quality onboard your boat.

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