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3 Easy Steps to Solve the Mold Problem on Your Boat!

Solving the Mold Problem on your Boat

Problem with mold and mildew on your boat? Us too!

We have had a problem with mold and mildew on our boat every summer since we purchased the boat in 2005. I have been making changes to our boat to solve this problem. Here are the three modifications that I have made to our boat which have eliminated our mold and mildew problems.

Boat Modifications:

1. Install the Arid Bilge Vacuum System

One modification I made was to install the Arid bilge vacuum system. I installed this product on our boat last fall (2015) after the boat was pulled out of the water for the winter. I was impressed with how this bilge vacuum totally removed all of the water from our bilge. I wasn't sure how well the bilge vacuum would work once the boat was back in the water in 2016. Well, I am EXTREMELY IMPRESSED with how well the Arid bilge vacuum system works. Our bilge has been completely dry all summer. It is so nice to look into the bilge and see that it is completely dry.  Our boat smells so much better and there is no longer that musty smell when you open up the boat after it has been closed up for several days.

In a normal boat with wet bilges, the warmer daytime air accelerates evaporation. As the sun sets the air temperature inside the boat would fall below the dew point resulting in condensation throughout the nighttime hours. In a boat, without bilge water, there is little to no evaporation which results in air temperature inside the boat climbing slightly higher, but it's a dry heat, and this drives the humidity out.

Arid Bilge System Series 1 Installed             Dry Bilge with grey Pick-up Pad

Arid Bilge System Series 1 Installed / Dry Bilge with Arid Bilge System Series 1 - grey pick-up pad

2. Reduce the Amount of Water in the Bilge - Ice Box/Cooler Drain

Another modification was to change the drain on our ice box. It used to drain directly into the bilge. I changed this by installing a manual hand pump on our galley sink that is connected to the icebox drain. The manual hand pump now pumps the water out of the icebox and into our galley kitchen sink which drains out of the boat via a thru-hull. This prevents nutrient-rich water from entering the bilge and also reduces the amount of water present in our bilge. We no longer have all the water from melting ice ending up in our bilge.  This was a breeding ground for mold and mildew.

Galley sink with hand pump      Ice Box Manual Pump

The hand pump is on the right side of the sink.  The ice box is on the right-hand side in the above pictures.

3. Add More Cabin Ventilation

The last modification I made was to add more ventilation to our cabin. I did this by cutting horizontal slots in our Companion Way Glass. I added a screen and a louvered vent to the outside of the companionway glass. This change allows much greater airflow through our cabin when we are away from the boat and all the windows and hatches are closed. The existing solar vent fan now pulls more fresh air through the cabin preventing the air from getting moist and humid which used to promote the growth of mold and mildew. 

Companionway Glass Vent Slots         Companionway Glass Stainless Steel Louvered Vent

Slots in the companionway glass  /   Louvered Stainless Steel Vent on the outside

Cleaning Item:

This spring while our boat was in the yard, I had a carpet cleaner come to our boat and professionally clean the carpets on the walls of our v-berth.  At one point in the past, we had a leaking lifeline fitting which I had fixed. When it was leaking it caused the carpet to get wet and caused mildew to grow on the carpet. The cleaning removed all of the stains on the carpets and it looks and smells so much better.


Our boat cabin smells so much better now that I have made these three modifications to our boat and we have NOT had any mold or mildew in the cabin this summer (2016).  I have finally beaten our mold and mildew problem.  The key to solving the problem was to remove sources of water in the boat bilge and to increase the air flow through the cabin to prevent the air from becoming humid as the boat heats up and cools down throughout the day.

Another advantage of no longer having a wet bilge or having mold and mildew present is that there will be less maintenance required on the boat. Excess moisture tends to create more maintenance on various systems. Preventing mold and mildew on your boat will reduce the maintenance work that is required.  No more having to clean the mold which as we all know is a nasty job.  Having made these modifications to our boat can enhance the vessel's resale value and makes the boat more appealing just based upon the fact that the boat looks and smells better.

If you have any questions regarding your boat and how you might improve the airflow or remove standing water in your bilge, please feel free to contact me at Steve@seadogboatingsolutions.com or call me at (802) 734-3389.

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