Is Boat, Car, and Motorcycle Detailing The Same?

“I own a boat, can I use car detailing products on my boat?” 

“I drive a motorcycle, is it safe if I use car soap on it?”

Is there a difference between detailing a boat, car, and motorcycle? The short answer; yes, of course there’s a difference. Now, how much of a difference is what really matters. Because a lot of times, people who take care of their cars also want to take care of their other rides (aka boat, motorcycle, ATV). 

In this article, I want to cover a few key differences and similarities between what you can and can’t do with certain types of products and tools on different types of paint. 

Leather In A Boat, A Car, And A Motorcycle 

To put it simple, the difference between the leather in a car and a leather on a boat is not much of a difference. They both have a protective coating (kind of like the clear coat on your car) that will protect the leather from any type of dirt, debris, sweet, etc.. 

So truthfully, yes you can use the same leather cleaner you use for you car on your bike and boat. Although there are a bunch of products on the market that are specified as a boat interior cleaner and a car interior cleaner, there’s not much of a difference. 

However, where it really matters is the type of leather that it is. For instance, I personally use an all-purpose-cleaner diluted 10:1 for most of my leather cleaning needs. If the leather in the boat or motorcycle or car is vintage, meaning it has no protective coating on it like traditional leather, then that’s when I’ll want to use a different type of leather cleaner. 

What About The Paint

This is where things change up a bit. Between the car and the motorcycle, they’re for the most part are going to be okay to use the same products and tools on each one. The only difference is you’ll need smaller machines for the motorcycle since there’s a lot of tight spots as opposed to a car with a lot of flat and curbed surface panels. 

As far as a boat, things change up a bit. There are some boats that have a gel-coating on it that can be a royal paint to deal with if you do not have the proper tools or know-how to tackle a job like that. 

For instance, with a car’s paint, you can use what’s called a dual action polisher to get 99% of the job done. When you’re working on a boat and you’re trying to restore the paint, you would take a substantial amount of time and effort using a dual action polisher against a gel0coated boat. For that type of work, you’ll need a rotary buffer. 

The Similarities 

To make things easier for you, here are a list of surfaces on a motorcycle, car, and boat that you can use the same products across them all: 

  • Glass and windows 
  • Leather and plastic
  • Cloth seats 
  • Chrome 
  • Metal 

Just keep in mind that if you’re not 100% confident that a product will work with another application, you should do a test spot in an area that’s not very visible. That way you can see in a small area if it will work or not. 

If it does work, great, start the cleaning. If it doesn’t, then you’ll find out in a small area that no one can see instead of putting it on an obvious surface. 

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