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Preparing Kayak for End of Season Storage

a close up of an kayak

Preparing Kayak for End of Season Storage

End of season preparation of a kayak means getting it ready for long-term storage. This is a much simpler process than people think. It’s as simple as cleaning, oiling, and covering.

Cleaning begins with thoroughly rinsing the kayak. Harsh cleaners and power washers should be avoided. The best cleaner is safe, yet extremely effective, Castile soap and tea tree oil. Castile soap is a mixture of oils that cleanse and help preserve surfaces such a plastic (especially painted), the most frequently used kayak material. Castile soap has the added benefits of being good for skin and the environment. Tea tree oil is a natural mold/mildew remover. It is anti bacterial, anti fungal, and anti microbial. As Castile soap and tea tree oil are gentle and effective, so should the washing process.

Washing should be done with a garden hose or buckets of water and a clean cloth.  No power washing as it is too strong. It can strip paint and force water into micro cracks in plastic as well as seams in folding kayakers. Paint, or any protective coating, is there to prolong a kayak’s life by sealing the plastic and limiting the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays. A cloth is preferable to a sponge to get into hard to reach places and does a better job scrubbing. Using a cloth also has the advantage of feeling dents and scratches for preseason repairs. The water temperature isn’t that important. Use whatever feels good to your hand based on the air temperature.

Begin washing by rinsing the kayak outside, then inside. Add one cup of Castile soap to a bucket filled with water. For extra cleaning power and removing mold, add two tablespoons of tea tree oil to the bucket of soapy water. Soak the cloth in the soapy water and scrub the kayak inside and out. Then fill the the inside of the Kayak completely full of soapy water and let sit for ten minutes. If possible do this step with the kayak elevated off the ground to check for leaks. This is a good time to clean your life jacket. Drop it inside the kayak full of soapy water. While the kayak and jacket are soaking, scrub the paddle with soapy water and rinse. After ten minutes, pull out the jacket and scrub all dirt off. Rinse the life jacket and kayak inside and out and repeat this procedure. Open the kayak’s drain holes to drain the water and wipe down with a dry cloth. Let the jacket air in the sun and let the kayak sit in the sun for a half hour to dry as preparation for oiling the kayak.

A kayak should be oiled for protection from the sun’s UV rays and to force water out of cracks in the plastic. Since oil and water don’t mix, the oil will settle in the cracks to keep out water that can freeze and expand cracks during winter. To oil the kayak make a mixture of ¼ cup each: coconut oil, olive oil, and sesame oil. This oil mixture blocks 20-28% of UV rays that fade paint and weaken plastic. It’s also environment and skin friendly. Apply the oil with a soft cloth, pressing firmly to force oil into the cracks in the plastic. Oil all surfaces of the kayak that the sun can reach. Ideally the kayak will be covered before the oil dries.

Cover the kayak with a waterproof cover and store where it is most convenient. It doesn’t matter wether the kayak is standing, on it’s top, side, bottom, or outside or inside.  The main goal is to keep it dry and out of the sun.

Don’t worry about scratches, dents, and cracks at this time. We’ll cover this in a future blog.

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