How to Prevent Rust on a Boat

Rust requires moisture to form, so it’s no surprise that boats get rusty being in and surrounded by water, especially saltwater, which speeds up the oxidation process. 

Tips for preventing rust on a boat

Of course rust can do some serious damage to a boat, especially if left untreated. There are many ways to treat rust on a boat, as well as to prevent it altogether, so that your vessel doesn’t end up like the dilapidated boat in the picture above. Here are some quick tips on ways to prevent rust on a boat.

Clean Your Boat Regularly

Pretty obvious, but washing your boat regularly and keeping it clean is the most straightforward way to prevent rust. Clean your boat after every use and dry it thoroughly to keep it from rusting. Washing regularly is an important part of overall boat maintenance, so you should be doing this anyway. Use fresh water and a mild cleaner after each use, then dry any and all surfaces, especially the metal ones. 

Boat rust prevention tips

Get a Boat Cover

Covers protect your boat from exposure to elements like rain, which of course can lead to the formation of rust. Get a quality cover for your boat, made of breathable material to prevent moisture buildup and protect it from sun damage whenever it’s not in use. 

Buy a boat cover

Buy boat cleaning supplies

Use Rust Prevention Products

Check your boat regularly for signs of rust to prevent it from spreading. Regular inspections are recommended to identify potential problem areas vulnerable to corrosion, which can spread quickly. If you find any rust stains, use a good rust remover to attack it before it spreads. To prevent rust from happening at all, get a quality rust stopper spray, which provides a protective long-lasting coating for exposed metals.

Star Brite rust stain remover

Sta-Bil rust stopper

Use Corrosion Inhibitor 

Beyond just rust prevention, there are products available to protect your boat from all kinds of corrosion. A corrosion inhibitor protects metal surfaces, as well as electrical connections, engine components and more. This type of product seals out moisture, and provides protection from salt spray as well as rust.

Get a Dehumidifier

Humidity creates moisture, the leading cause of rust. A dehumidifier is exactly what it sounds like, and it’s an effective means of protecting your boat from rust, as well as mold and mildew. Dehumidifiers are useful for eliminating excess moisture inside a boat while it’s on the water, as well as in its storage area. 

Outboard Corrosion Prevention

Besides protecting your boat from corrosion, you’ll also want to protect your outboard motors if your boat has any. For starters, anodes on an outboard exist for the sole purpose of absorbing corrosive elements in the water, which is why they’re commonly referred to as “sacrificial anodes.” These metal components are typically made of zinc and act as the first line of defense to protecting your outboard motor from corrosion.

Other products exist to protect your outboard’s internal and external components from corrosion. These include engine cleaners, silicone spray, corrosion guard, and fogging oil, which is sprayed into an engine and acts as a rust inhibitor while the outboard is in storage. 

Finally, you’ll want to get an engine cover for the same reasons you’d buy a boat cover. Keeping your boat and its engine(s) protected from rust and corrosion are a necessary part of regular maintenance, and will go a long way toward maintaining the value of your vessel.




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