Cleaning Windows


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How to Clean and Protect Plastic Windows on Your Boat

Boat: Pacific Dragon II
Make/Model: 2002 Performance Cruising Gemini 105mc

It sounds like a no brainer but it is surprising how many people have no idea how to properly clean, polish and detail their plastic windows.  The result is glazing, cracks and scratches that make the window age and need to be replaced long before their time.  I must give credit to the boat dealer, Don, for making sure I understood how to do it right and protect the substantial investment in windows on my boat.  Thanks to his advice my window still look new after over 8 years.   Others with similar age Geminiís are in the process of replacing their windows because they did not have the same fortune of have such a considerate dealer to explain how to take care of them.

There are three basic steps: 1.Clean, 2.Polish, 3.Detail, but before we start lets get the necessary supplies:

  1. Bag of soft white t-shirt type rags or similar. 

  2. Water spray bottle with nothing but clean drinking water in it.

  3. Meguiar's #17 Plastic Cleaner

  4. Meguiar's #10 Plastic Polish

  5.  Meguiar's #18 Plastic Detailer

Next you need to pick a time when the windows are cool and not in direct sunlight to clean them.  Never ever clean them when they are hot and in the sun; you will scratch them!!!!  Typically first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening are the best times.  Typically the process takes a bit of time so I clean one side in the morning (the side away from the sun) and the other in the evening. 

Note: Another important thing to keep in mind which is easy, donít clean them any more than you have to.  Anything touching them (even the soft cloths used for cleaning them) will cause small scratches so the less cleaning the better.  Typically I only clean them a couple times a year and just rinse them off with the hose in between after each boat use.


  Here are the cleaning steps which are fairly straight forward:

  First Step: Clean window

1.       Rinse down the windows with a hose.

2.       Apply Plastic cleaner #17 liberally directly to the window in a area that you can clean in one shot before it dries.  Typically half the larger windows can be done at one time and the whole smaller side windows.

3.       Wet window with spray bottle if it is dry at all (must be wet to avoid scratches)

4.       Use clean soft rag and circular motion to clean the window changing areas of the rag as it becomes dirty.  Change the rag once it is soiled or you risk scratching the window.  This step removes the heavy gum and dirt that sticks to the windows.  No need to fully dry the window before the next step, just get the dirt off.

Step Two: Polish window

5.        Wet the window again with the spray bottle.

6.       Apply the plastic polish #10 to the same area that you just cleaned. 

7.       Use new clean soft rags in a circular motion to polish the window; changing to clean areas of the rag; and using new rags as necessary.  

8.       Again the window does not need to be fully dry before the next step.

Step Three: Detail Window

9.       Apply more water from the spray bottle to the area.

10.   Apply the detailer #18 to the same area you just polished.

11.   Use new clean soft rags in a circular motion to completely clean and dry the area.   Always try to use a clean potion of the rag if it is soiled at all and switch to a new rag often.  Donít spare the rags; you can always launder them and reuse them; save the windows from scratches and use a fresh rag whenever in doubt. (I like to use new rags for each step after each large window.)

Now you should have clean clear windows that will last up to another year before you need to repeat the cleaning, polish and detail treatment (depending on how heavily used the boat is and the air pollution in the area.) 

Note: When your windows are clean and scratch free you may skip the cleaner and/or polish steps and just use the detailer for a quick clean-ups between the full treatments. The detailer alone is great for removing the film that develops on the interior which promotes fogging.


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This site was last updated 09/01/03