How to remove barnacles from pontoon boats?

For those who don’t know what barnacles are, have you ever been bothered by the presence of white sticky substances on your pontoon boats that stick to the bottom of your boats and are so stubborn to leave? 

Well, those white substances are pretty much known as barnacles.

Barnacles are marine animals or arthropods which feed on small and microorganisms which drift along the surface of the sea or freshwater also known as plankton.

So the question is ” How to remove barnacles from pontoon boats ?”

Table Of Contents

Why should you remove barnacles from pontoon boats? Why not just let them be?

Barnacles project out from the pontoon boats due to which they increase the water resistance up to 60% as compared to a plain surface, resulting in the reduction of performance of the boat which further leads to an increase in fuel consumption up to 40%. 

Hence, to avoid such inconvenience, barnacles must be removed.

Douglas Locy – Youtube

A quick jaw-dropping fact

Science has it that barnacles produce glue in order to stick to hard surfaces like the rocks and the bottom of your boats, which is six times stronger than any human-made glue! This is probably why removing them from the boats is a strenuous task.

But don’t give up yet, we know a way out of the problem and this article shows exactly how to remove barnacles from pontoon boats.  

For starters, there are two different ways in which barnacles can be removed from pontoon boats-

  1. Removing barnacles by scraping method.
  2. Removing barnacles by using a pressure washer.
Also Read: How do you fit a pontoon boat in a garage?

Remove barnacles by scrapping method

Items required are-

  • Paint scraper
  • Aluminium or hull cleaner (ex- Toon Brite aluminium cleaner)
  • Eye protection (eyeglasses)
  • Heavy rubber gloves
  • Stainless steel scrubber
  • Limescale remover
  • Alumabrite (for finishing purposes)
  • Protective coating (Propspeed)


Wear your heavy rubber gloves to make sure of your safety. 

Apply/spray aluminum cleaner over the barnacles and leave it on for around 1 hour. This helps in softening and loosening up the barnacles a little bit, making it a lot easier to scrape them off. Don’t let the aluminum cleaner dry as it can cause streaking. 

Now, put on your eye protection. After 1 hour of applying the aluminum cleaner, use a paint scraper and try to scrape off the barnacles slowly and cautiously by trying to get underneath the corners. If you are using a steel scraper be very careful as scraping might damage the hull of your boat. 

After removing most of the barnacles, you can apply the lime remover and scrap a little more to remove the glue marks left over by the barnacles. This process is purely for aesthetic purposes as these marks create inconsistency in appearance. This step is not mandatory and skipped. 

After you are done with cleaning, polish the bottom surface with the help of Aluma Brite and apply any protective underwater coatings such as Propspeed.

These protective coatings significantly reduce the buildup of barnacles next time. Just make sure there is no grease or dust before applying the coating.

Just like that, your pontoon is brand new again!

Removing barnacles by using a pressure washer

Items required – 

  1. Pressure washer
  2. Scrapper
  3. Protective rubber gloves and eyewear
  4. Limescale remover
  5. Aluminium or hull cleaner (ex- Toon Brite aluminium cleaner)
  6. Alumabrite (for finishing purposes)
  7. Protective coater

If you wish to remove the barnacles by this method, then you must remove the boat from the water and let the barnacles dry and die off, making the process of removing them easier. 

This is going to take a minimum of one week. However, we suggest letting the boat sit out of the water for at least 6 to 7 weeks for the barnacles to dry and die off.

After letting the boat dry for a considerable time, apply aluminum cleaner all over the hull and leave it on for an hour. This helps in further loosening the dead barnacles. 

After an hour, power washes the barnacles with the help of a pressure washer. Spray the water at such an angle that the water drips the edges of the barnacles off the hull.  

In this way, most of the barnacles can be removed. Leftover barnacles can be removed with the help of a scrapper. 

In order to remove the ring marks from the adhesive of the barnacles, apply and leave the aluminum cleaner for 1 hour again and scrap off the rings. This part is solely for aesthetic purposes and hence not mandatory.

After this, apply a polisher to the hull to compensate for any damage or abrasion done by all the scraping.

After polishing, apply protective coating all over the hull to reduce the chances of regrowth of the barnacles in the future as the protective coating makes it difficult for the barnacles to stick to the surface.

Tips For Amateurs-

SAFETY FIRST- Make sure you protect yourself at all times by covering your hands and eyes with rubber gloves and protective eyewear because, as the barnacles fly in all directions while trying to remove them with the pressure washer.

BE PATIENT- “Slow and steady wins the race” is true in this task. Removing the barnacles is not easy and is going to take time. Trying to remove the barnacles quickly without any precautions can further damage the hull. So, be careful, precautionary, and patient.

DIY ALUMINIUM CLEANER- A mixture of water and vinegar at 50% each by volume, i.e at a 1:1 ratio can be used as an aluminum cleaner if ready-made products are not available at your place.

The importance of maintenance of any machine with love is of apex level. It is one way to make them work for many years efficiently. Similarly, for your boats to work efficiently and give you, your family, and friends great memories, they must be taken care of and maintained. 

Although barnacles are important marine animals, they disrupt the performance of your boat, reduce speed and increase fuel consumption. Hence, never back away from removing them and cleaning your boat from time to time. Remember, the more frequently you do it, the easier it gets.

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