What Material are Inflatable Boats Made From and Which Cleaning Products Should be Used?

The choice you make when picking the material for your inflatable boat will have a huge impact on not only the durability but the flexibility and overall performance too.

In this article, we'll discuss your options and guide you through the appropriate cleaning products for each. Helping you to keep your boat clean, functional, and enjoyable for years to come.

Materials Used in Inflatable Boats

The main materials used in the manufacturing of inflatable boats are PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), Hypalon (CSM), and Polyurethane.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC is the most commonly used material in inflatable boats. It is a cost-effective option, offering good durability in most conditions. The lightweight material is convenient for transportation and storage; albeit less resistant to UV rays, chemicals, and abrasions when compared to Hypalon and Polyurethane. 

Hypalon (CSM)

Hypalon is a synthetic rubber material often used in high-quality inflatable boats. It has outstanding resistance to UV rays, chemicals, and abrasions. Hypalon boats have a longer lifespan than PVC boats and typically perform better in extreme weather conditions. They are also more resilient when used in harsh environments such as saltwater and direct sun exposure. However, Hypalon boats are heavier and more expensive than PVC boats. 


Polyurethane is another material used in inflatable boats, known for its strength and flexibility. It provides excellent resistance to punctures, abrasions, and chemicals. Polyurethane boats are lightweight and can last for years if properly maintained. However, they can be more expensive than PVC boats and require careful handling when inflating and deflating. 

How to Clean an Inflatable Boat: Cleaning Products to use

Maintaining your inflatable boat is essential for preserving its appearance and longevity. It's essential to use the appropriate cleaning products, which will vary depending on the material of your boat. In this section, we will discuss general-purpose cleaners and specialised cleaners to help you understand how to clean an inflatable boat and keep yours in top condition.

General Purpose Cleaners

For ordinary cleaning tasks, such as removing dirt, dust, and minor stains from your inflatable boat, it's recommended to use a mild soap and water solution. This usually works just fine for routine maintenance and is safe to use on most materials, including PVC and Hypalon.

  • Mix a few drops of mild soap in a bucket of water
  • Use a soft brush or sponge to scrub the surface of your boat gently
  • Rinse thoroughly with fresh water to remove any soap residue

It's important to avoid using harsh chemicals, solvents, or cleaners with high pH levels, as these can damage the material of your boat. Natural alternatives, such as white vinegar, can also be effective for cleaning and can be gentler on the environment.

Specialised Cleaners

Some cleaning products may cater specifically to RIBs from companies like August Race but always remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and conduct a spot test on a small, inconspicuous area of your boat before using any new cleaning product.

When using specialised cleaners, it's important to:

  • Apply the cleaner to a soft brush or sponge
  • Gently scrub the affected area, allowing the cleaner to penetrate and lift the stains
  • Rinse thoroughly with fresh water to remove any residue
  • Dry the surface with a clean cloth or allow it to air dry

By using the appropriate cleaning products and following the manufacturer's recommendations, you can keep your rigid inflatable boat looking fresh and in excellent condition without causing any damage to its material.

Check out our free eBook “The Ultimate Maintenance Guide for your Rigid Inflatable Boat” for more tips and advice on how to clean an inflatable boat and more.

The ultimate maintenance guide for your Rigid Inflatable Boat

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