Yacht Care Tips: Removing Salt and Scratches from Windows

As a yacht owner, you hate to see scratches and salt deposits on your windows. Aside from being unattractive, they disrupt views, decrease resale value, and can even lead to further damage if they’re not addressed.

So if you notice a scratch or salt water stain, what can you do? When it comes to removing salt from boat windows and repairing scratches, different materials require different care.

Here are some techniques for removing salt and scratches, so you can keep your boat in prime condition for years to come.


Removing Salt Water Stains from Vinyl Windows

Sure, salt water stains are unsightly and obstruct your view of the open ocean. But did you know that salt water can also lead to long-term damage? 

The last thing you want is brittle or weakened vinyl, especially when your boat has to contend with strong winds. Thankfully, all it takes to prevent degradation is a little prevention and maintenance.

First things first: prevention. Salt accumulates over time, and deposits will only get harder to remove with age, so rinse off your yacht frequently to dislodge dirt and salt before it builds up to unmanageable levels. 

Ideally, you should rinse your boat windows after every trip, and cover your boat during the off-season. After rinsing, gently dry with a soft cloth — terry cloth and microfiber are generally safe options.

Even if you’re diligent about prevention, stains still happen. When it’s time for more than just a rinse, use a mild soap and water solution, a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar, or a clear vinyl window soap like IMAR Protective Cleaner, which is available at West Marine. . Never use abrasive soaps or cleaners on vinyl products. They will cause damage.

For particularly difficult salt buildup stains, you can use undiluted white vinegar as a spot treatment. Spray it on the tough spots and let it sit for a few minutes, then rub with a soft sponge or cloth.


Removing Scratches from Vinyl Windows

If you notice a scratch while you’re cleaning, a restoration formula might help repair it. Don’t forget to do your research — find the best restorer for your particular windows rather than using a generic vinyl restorer.

After the vinyl is cleaned thoroughly and rinsed off with fresh water, you can apply the restoration formula to your windows with an applicator pad. Finally, treat your windows with a window wax (again, do your research!) to protect them from the elements.

If your windows are beyond repair, consider replacing with a scratch-resistant option like Strataglass to ensure long-lasting clarity.


Removing Salt Water Stains from Glass Windows

First, make sure that what you’re working with is really glass, not plexiglass/acrylic or vinyl — glass cleaner will degrade these surfaces. 

If you’re positive that you have real glass, you can use glass cleaners (like Windex) on a regular basis, and commercial lime removal products for difficult spots when necessary.

If you have plexiglass or acrylic windows, on the other hand, you should never use cleaning solutions that contain ammonia, and should therefore be wary of most glass cleaning products. Instead, use products that are specifically formulated for plexiglass, like NOVUS Plastic Clean & Shine No. 1.


Removing Scratches from Glass Windows

If you have glass windows with superficial scratches, this process is similar to repairing scratches in your car’s windshield. You can use metal polish, clear nail polish, or a DIY scratch removing polish.

Again, the products you can use for plexiglass are a little different. Steer clear of anything that contains ammonia, and stick to specially formulated plexiglass polishes whenever possible. For superficial scratches, you can use Novus No. 2, and for deeper ones you can use a combination of Novus No. 2 and No. 3.

No matter what kind of glass you have or what product you use, you’ll need to clean and dry the area first so there is no debris in or around the scratch. Most products work best when applied using a clean, damp, lint-free cloth, but always refer to the instructions for specific recommendations when using commercial products.

For more yacht care and maintenance tips, read our guide: 5 Boat-Saving Lessons to Extend the Life of Your Yacht.

Read our new guide 5 boat saving lessons