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FAQ: Lifeline Cleaning 

Any consensus on how to clean lifelines and powercords?


Original Message:
Subj: [cat] Lifeline cleaning
Two sailing related questions for the list. I have noted in past emails and technical notes that some people strongly recommended using whitewall tire cleaner to clean lifelines and powercords but in recent years I have seen more people recommending Softscrub. Is one better than the other? Should both be avoided? I have seen other people suggest acetone, yet most say this causes sticky, gummy surfaces that make things worse. Any consensus on how to clean lifelines and powercords? Would appreciate the insights of owners. Thanks.
Mark Hazlett, C34, Dot.Calm, #763, Honolulu, hazletts@gte.net

Subj: Re: [cat] Lifeline cleaning
Plain softscrub doesn't work near as well as softscrub with bleach. Whitewall tire cleaners I haven't tried yet but I have had some success using products such as Tilex or other mildew removers. It seems to me that the active ingredient that works best is bleach. The only drawback to the softscrub with bleach is that it must be rinsed really well as it has a tendency to leave a slight powdery residue when it dries if it's not all rinsed off. Acetone I would only use on lifelines if you can't clean them with anything else and then I would coat them with Penetrol to protect and seal them. They will be slightly sticky when the acetone is on them until they dry for a while.
Steven Schultz, 1974 C-27, Relaxer, scsrelaxer@aol.com

Subj: Re: [cat] Lifeline cleaning
Mark, you ask interesting questions, and just when I was thinking of posting a message about cleaners for inflatables.
For weeks now I have been exercising my wallet and the cash register at my local West Marine by purchasing every container that contains something good for cleaning inflatable boats. I must have spent around $50 and nothing worked. Today, I just took a container of SoftScrub and a scrubbing brush to my inflatable and it worked a treat. Took a little bit of elbow grease (in this high humidity, 85 plus degrees we have today) but it was great. So, SoftScrub works for me. I'm going to try some of the vinyl and other cleaners on my lifelines. Perhaps it will work on those - since the lifelines are not textured, unlike the inflatable.
Michael Yorke, C42 MkII, #573, Certa Cito, mikey4@idt.net

Subj: Re: [cat] Lifeline cleaning
I have used brush cleaner (Jabso brand) to clean lots of things on and around boats for years. It is less aggressive and volatile than acetone. Works on tar streaked fenders and removes the gum left from labels/pricetags, too.
Charlie Pearsall, C34 MkII '00 #1515 TRWK, D E L I R I O U S, CPearsall@SMCplus.com

Subj: Re: [cat] Lifeline cleaning
Michael-Try acetone. A piece of old towel, smallish, wet with acetone, and run it over a section of the lifeline. Go on, section after section. I wear rubber gloves to keep my hands away from the acetone. Watch out for plastic ports, etc. I also use the acetone to clean fenders. If the rag starts to drag, move on to another section of rag, as dirt is building up. Regards.
Fred Sprigman, Pearson 1991 31' Islander, Greenport, N.Y., FredSprig1@aol.com


Hints / Ideas from Sailors


Cleaning Lifelines

  • Soft Scrub w/ Bleach - cleaning lifelines, cleaning inflatables
  • Lifelines and Antenna look great covered with plastic shroud covers.
  • Wesley's whitewall cleaner is great for bird poo removal.

Cleaning Rub Rail:

  • Acetone and a Scotch Brite pad to clean the vinyl insert of the rub rail. Plus 2 coats of Penetrol to preserve it, also puts a nice shine on the rubber.
  • I use the same rubbing compound, gel-coat restorer, etc. that I use on the boat. Cleans the rub rail great and is very easy to use. Then coat it with the same wax that you put on the boat. Looks great.


Important: The opinions expressed here are those of the individual contributors to this page, and not those of the Catalina 34 National Association or Catalina Yachts, Inc. Additionally, this material has not been reviewed by Catalina Yachts, Inc. for technical accuracy. This page's maintainer cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information or the desirability of suggested modifications or upgrades. Please obtain assistance from a competent marine mechanic or boatyard prior to making any significant modifications to your vessel.   

Last modified by Phil Imhof, Wednesday, August 11, 2004 . Copyright 2001 by Catalina 34 International Association.  All rights reserved.