Preventative maintenance including washing your kayak after every trip is a good idea. Keeping your kayak in good condition will help it last for many years, giving you lots of time for exploring the outdoors. Along with keeping your kayak clean it is good to maintain it in a safe operating condition so you can feel confident when paddling.
Kayaks are made of various materials and you should always consult the manufacturers recommended maintenance advice first before using any chemicals on them that may cause damage.
With Polyethylene (Plastic) kayaks you can first hose them down with fresh water to remove any loose materials such as dirt or sand. If there is a steering mechanism fitted such as a rudder or skeg you will need to wash them thoroughly and spray with a silicone lubricate to keep them in good working order as well as any foot braces . While spraying the parts it is always a good idea to check that all these moving parts including steering cables operate freely.
Once the loose materials are removed you can continue washing the kayak with a mild soap and water mixture using a sponge to remove the harder to remove grime such as mud. Salt water can badly affect fabric materials so always clean your fabric seat and decklines if fitted. If decklines are damaged or frayed you may need to repair or replace them. Also wash and remove any hatch covers and treat them and any seals with a suitable protectant to keep them in a watertight condition. When the hull is dry you can use a plastic protectant spray to keep it in top condition and protect it from UV rays which can damage and fade the hull. By removing all the grime and contaminants from the hull also reduces the drag of the hull giving it smoother and more efficient travel through the water.
While the hull is clean it is easier to inspect for any cracks or hull damage and if it is something more serious than merely a cosmetic scratch you may need to seek professional repair advice from a kayak shop such as Rosco Canoes and Kayaks http://www.roscocanoes.com.au/
With fibreglass and other composite kayaks they can be washed with mild soapy water before any manufacturer recommended protectants or polishes may be applied.
It is always best to store your kayak in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. If you need to store your kayak outdoors ensure it is covered in a loose fitting tarp on appropriate storage racks or slings that won’t damage or deform the hull.