Dozens of brands of marine cleaner wax line your marine store shelf. A couple can be found in the boating section of any discount store. And, to compound the puzzle, there are dozens more cleaner waxes for automobiles that are supposedly not good for your boat.
We will tell you right now, some are not. But there are some we would recommend.
How We Tested
In our BoatingLAB wax test from April 2012, we compared several waxes, polishes and cleaner waxes to compare shine. We tested Turtle Wax against the marine brands and thought Turtle Wax went on easier, polished off quicker and created a brighter shine, but the green hue of the wax tinted the white gelcoat of our test boat.
So this year our test field includes only waxes designated as cleaner waxes, and the two car waxes.
First, we washed our test boat, a faded navy-blue boat that gets too much exposure to the sun. After drying it, we taped off the hull in sections, one section per wax. Then we aimed a tape measure at the surface and noted the highest distance from the surface we could read the tape in the reflection. We picked the worst and the best spots in each test patch.
Using a clean buff pad, we spread enough wax to cover the area. Then, with an electric orbital buffer and terry cloth bonnets, we waxed on and waxed off.
Again, we held the ruler up to the surface and noted how far up the ruler we could clearly distinguish gradients on both the worst and best areas in the test patch. We averaged the results.
A good wax job should bead and shed water. We sprayed the sections from a distance of 6 feet with a hose nozzle and let it stand five minutes in full sun. We gave three points to the products that spotted least and fewer points for more spotting.